Boys in The Trees, A Memoir

by Carly Simon, 2015

Carly started out life as a rich girl in NYC. Her dad was Dick Simon, founder of publishing giant Simon & Schuster. She was their third daughter and they were hoping for a boy to name “Carl” so they added a “y” and that’s how she became Carly. Music was a part of the family’s day-to-day life. They sang a lot and her father played the piano for hours every evening. Carly started to stutter when she was a young girl. When she couldn’t get the words out, her mom told her to sing them. That helped her a lot. Her stutter has been a lifelong problem and she never knows when it will happen; that is why she doesn’t do many shows or interviews. She loves men, was quite the flirt, but her heart belonged especially to James Taylor, although from this book it sounds like he was a junkie and really kind of weird.

She wrote her own music, sometimes with the help of others but mostly on her own. The song “Anticipation” she wrote in 15 minutes while waiting for Cat Stevens to show up – he was late. “You’re So Vain,” she wrote over several years and the verses refer to several men, not just one. She had many famous loves: Cat Stevens, Kris Kristofferson, Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger. But her true love was James Taylor. They have two children, Sally and Ben. They stayed married for maybe 12 years (she doesn’t give many dates in the book); from maybe 1971 to 1983? It was tumultuous.

Here are some quotes:

“This is what I do,” he said. “Watch. I can’t have you and the habit at the same time. I just can’t. I’ve got to get rid of this. Maybe if you see me do it, it will take away the cat-and-mouse game. You have to watch me. I have to let it all go.”

It took about three or four minutes to get it all assembled. But then he tied off above his elbow and, while his blood was collecting in his veins below, reached in his suitcase with the other hand and brought out a syringe and some powdery substance in a plastic bag. There was another bag that had something else in it. Whatever it was, he poured it into a spoon, went into the kitchen in our suite, and melted it on the burner. I couldn’t watch well enough to describe it even a day later. My mouth began to dry up and my heart went into panicked rhythms. Chemistry was in the making, and somehow all the components made their way into the syringe, and as he pulled the rubber tight on his arm the veins became purple and frightening. He walked into the bedroom and sat on the bed. He took the syringe and injected himself. It took five seconds and then he fell back on the bed. When he pulled the needle out of his arm, he exhaled and made some sounds like those of an animal being freed…

From pages 251-252 in which she is describing James Taylor shooting up.

I was just one more typical idiot of her time who was trying to replace religion with New Wave good intentions.

From page 314 where she is discussing the types of therapy she tried.

…He was busy burning a piece of bent-out-of-shape metal clothes hanger, and melting both ends of a length of heavy nylon rope. James was always having inventive encounters with tinfoil, carbon-stained spoons, and other makeshift ingredients.

From page 327 where she is describing James Taylor at their kitchen table one morning.

Whether it was the sangria, or the Valium, or the night, I could feel my eyes well up as Juan spoke in a gentle voice. It was love that leads all, he told me. It was love that knows what babies need. Love, he emphasized knows all. God tells all men to know love, tells men to open their hearts, to be on the lookout for the secrets of the night. As for that Japanese woman, he went on—“She try to take your oosban away. Stay to love. Don’t let it get away from your side. Go home now and love eem. Love eem over everybody else but God. Love is good,” he concluded, “and God is love.”

From page 333 when she is about to go to James’ apartment and confront his mistress, Evey, but she stops at a Cuban cafe and talks with a kind waiter named Juan.

In the light of the mirror, I didn’t look pretty, for sure—nor was that the point—but I did look fierce. In truth, I was staring the Beast in the eye. I held its gaze and I thought, Cool, God is in me.

From page 338 when she is in the bathroom of Evey’s place looking at herself in the mirror, confronting the Beast, the tormentor that wreaked havoc in her mind and her life, filling her full of fears and doubt about her self-worth.

Fame is manic and terrifying, especially when your identity and status become gradually and exclusively dependent on others’ opinions, jealousies, and rivalries. Show business is no place for any normal person, as you develop an overwhelming need to retain the highest possible position on the world’s popularity rosters, your fear of slipping a notch gradually overshadowing talent, art, creativity, empathy, and hardest to lose, love.

From page 345 where she is describing an anxiety attack on-stage in Pittsburgh that was so bad she ended up in the hospital for a month.