Carly Simon Stephen Davis - Essay

Stephen Davis

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

If there are traces of an emerging, strong female consciousness on [Anticipation], they appear as much in [Carly Simon's] attitude to her role as a musician and singer as in the music itself. The music of Anticipation consists of starkly frank and carefully manicured songs about the vagaries of the male/female saga. They are a strange set of love songs, more like a cycle of the wide range of the emotional pulls and tugs that love connotes. She sings sometimes as an acute observer of the life conditions of a fellow human, sometimes as an equal partner in a shattered affair, sometimes as a bemused annotater of losing battles and the highly-charged moment flying away.

The title song is the first cut. "Anticipation" is a spirited examination of the tensions involved in a burgeoning romantic situation in which nobody has any idea of what's going on or what's going to happen….

"Legend in Your Own Time" is about anyone who has achieved a measure of fame and has been working at it since their youth. That the most famous folks are often the loneliest is one of the tiredest truisms in show-biz, but Carly convinces the listener that her story is a personal one rather than a generalization. "Our First Day Together" is a re-creation of just that. It's a quiet song, lovely and quite enigmatic….

"The Garden" and "Three Days" are a pair of disparate love songs, the first an image-filled idealization, the second a lovely, wistful realization of a pair of musicians in love, people who have to travel away from each other after three shared days of intensity….

I don't think Carly Simon wants anything to do with her image as the Woman of the Future. All she is really is a maturing musician who is a woman and who is making excellent music, and that should be enough for anyone. Forget the labels, listen to the music.

Stephen Davis, "Carly Simon's Second," in Rolling Stone (by Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. © 1971; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Issue 98, December 23, 1971, p. 66.