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Carly Simon & Me

January 26th, 2007

Reviewed today:

I fell in love with Carly Simon — my first real girl crush — when I was in sixth grade. I fell so hard, so quickly, that my best friend Natalie did not know what to do. Because this competition? She was beautiful. And grown-up. And didn’t even go to our school.

“You don’t know her,” she said, looking at me like an accuser, “I mean, for real you don’t know her.” Then she took an eraser when I wasn’t looking and erased Carly’s eyes, on the album cover of the first album I ever owned by Carly (because to me, she was always just Carly) — Hotcakes. (My boyfriend at the time preferred Playing Possum because, you know. The boots. And the booty.)

With the erased eyes, she looked a little scary. I believe Natalie and I had words over it and later parted ways. (Over something else entirely, but it started with her defacing Carly.) I’m an alto, so I loved Carly because I could sing along in (sort of) the right key with her. I memorized everything she’d ever recorded and have been a fan ever since.

Carly’s latest album, “Into White” is all lullabies, and is just beautiful. I tested it out on my friend’s 11-month-old yesterday. She quieted from a crying spell, nestled in next to me and fell sound asleep. Lulled. Wacky Boy just wandered in while I was writing this (I’m listening to the CD right now) and crawled into my lap, mesmerized.

Natalie would be even more jealous today, had our friendship stood the test of time. The title of the album came from the Cat Stevens song of the same name. It’s been a favorite of mine, too, so I’m pleased she recorded it. She also did new versions of “Love of My Life” and “Devoted to You/All I Have To Do Is Dream.” Fourteen songs total, all good.

My favorite track on the album is a remake of the James Taylor song “You Can Close Your Eyes.” She sings this version with Ben and Sally, her kids with James. (Anecdote — I believe she was pregnant with Sally when the cover photo for “Hotcakes” was taken.) The harmonies and pacing are lovely. Sally’s voice is haunting and pure; Ben sounds like his dad. When they get to the line “I don’t know no love songs/and I can’t sing the blues anymore,” that’s it, I’m crying.

If I had time, I would write equally long reviews of the two other titles I’m reviewing today. “Mommy?” is Wacky Boy’s newest fave. It’s by Maurice Sendak, and you might want to purchase copies only for Big Kids, because it’s the best pop-up book I’ve ever seen. If you have little-littles, buy them a copy and tuck it away for later. Here’s one of Sendak’s little guys, in the style of Max from “Where the Wild Things Are,” only this time he’s turned loose in a monster mansion, looking for his mommy. (And pantsing the Wolfman, scaring Dracula and then comforting him with a pacifier, and generally causing a hubbub in his search.) It’s pretty adorable. And Wacky Boy can “read” it, since the dialogue consists of only two words total.

Wacky Girl is partial to “The Big Book of Girl Stuff,” by Bart King & His Five Sisters. It contains all the secrets she wanted to know about, plus two fake covers (one says Chemistry; the other, Composition) so you can read it at school and not get in trouble. She has invited girlfriends over specifically so they can pore over this book together.

“It was written by a boy,” Wacky Girl told me, “Did you know that? I like it anyway.” (“The Big Book of Boy Stuff” is also available.)

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