Prior to singing with the Simon Sisters, beginning at the beginning of my life, things were fairly quiet. Lucy, Joey and I sang throughout our childhood's, first in Greenwich Village (where I was kicked out of family choir for being obstreperous and willful), and then at our lovely homes in Riverdale, NY and Stamford, Connecticut. We sang as a trio, and then Lucy and I began singing in earnest, and on our own.
Lucy and I taught ourselves guitar (three chords each) and hitchhiked up to Provincetown, MA in the summer of '64. We sang at a local bar called The Moors. Our repertoire consisted of folk music, peppered with a few of our own brand new compositions - the most famous and delightful of which was my sister's musical interpretation of Eugene Field's Wynken, Blinken and Nod.
We were signed to our first recording deal (Kapp Records) that year and Harold Leventhal and Charlie Close became our managers. We played the Bitter End and the Gaslight clubs in Greenwich Village, opening for Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Dick Cavett and other soon-to-be-famous people. We wore matching dresses and caught the train, very late at night, back to our schools in the private sector.
Fancy schools. Quiet campuses, where dorm mothers frowned upon our late night arrivals and professors thought even less of overdue papers. I left school after a few years and went to live with my boyfriend in the south of France. While there, I had the first of many nervous breakdowns, brought on by an allergy to the local wine. My sister had had enough of my nerves and got married to a psychiatrist and had a child, Julie. About her I wrote Julie Through The Glass, which I later performed on my album Anticipation - but I won't go there quite yet.
Once Lucy was married, I got involved with manager Albert Grossman. Without my dear sister's protection, I was a sitting duck. He offered me his body in exchange for worldly success. Sadly, his body was not the kind you would easily sell yourself for. My record, produced by Bob Johnson was shelved - which was a shame because it was actually quite good.
When this didn't work, Albert got Bob Dylan to re-write an Eric VonSchmidt song for me, called Baby Let Me Follow You Down. It was good - funky. I was backed by Robbie Robertson, Paul Griffin, Mike Bloomfield and Levon Helm. But that ended up on the shelf too. Then followed another attempt at commerciality, in which Grossman teamed me up with Richie Havens - as Carly and The Deacon - but the team never made it into the studio. After this I fell into silence for another few years.
During that time, I worked as an overweight secretary in the offices of a production company. I pretended to type and take shorthand while extending my luncheon breaks to drown my sense of failure in more and more puff pastry and puddings. There was a very nice man working for the production company named Len Friedlander. His wife had been a great childhood friend of mine. He thought I would be a fine girl to take care of the talent on one of the shows they were launching called From the Bitter End. I took care of Marvin Gaye and Redd Foxx and the Staple Singers and the Chad Mitchell Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary. I brought them tea and honey and didn't try to sell them my songs. However, I did go for a term to Julliard School of Music around that time to learn how to notate music. (I have since lost this skill---sadly).
I was writing songs. I wanted to be able to send them to singers in hopes that I could make some money from the publishing. I won't say that I was poor, because it is well known that my family had money, but my mother (my father died in 1960) had a strict attitude about allowances (none), and the relatively small sum of money I inherited when I was 21 was spent in three years on the psychiatrist I saw about that wine-allergy-induced nervous breakdown. I sent my four or five songs to Dionne Warwick (I had met her on the plane coming back from France the year I lived with my boyfriend, just as Walk On By was about to be released), Cass Elliot, Burt Bacharach, and Judy Collins. I never heard from any one of them until years later, but never on the issue of my songs.
In 1968 (ish) I left the TV production company and got a job as the lead girl singer for the band Elephant's Memory. In that I have a poor memory for dates, I don't remember like the good elephant that I purported to be. In fact I don't remember much about it at all, except that no-one liked each other very much, and the trombone and sax player were very good, and someone's name was Stan and someone else's name was Myron and there was a Rick and a Richie. I hated the gigs. We played clubs where everyone smoked dope and cigarettes at the same time. The sound systems were so dreadful I lost my voice easily and regularly, and after a summer I quit. They then became John and Yoko's band for a while.
After this experience, I moved to Murray Hill in NYC, which was the first apartment I had on my own. My mother came down and installed serious locks on the doors but I still had a hard time sleeping alone and so I never did. It was 1969 and there was no reason to. Somewhere in 1968 I dated Milos Forman. He put me in his movie Taking Off starring Buck Henry. I was appalled when I saw it. I looked so gooney and gawky singing Long Term Physical Effects. I suspect I had a certain energy that he liked. It wasn't a big part at all. The movie was about a series of people doing auditions. I was one of them.
The same year I went to be a counselor at a summer camp and met Jacob Brackman, who became my best friend. When I moved to my apartment on 35th St. (Murray Hill), Jake lived around the corner and we were inseparable, sharing our social lives. He introduced me to so many of the friends I still have. One night there was a man at his house, the husband of actress Janet Margolin. This man, Jerry Brandt, offered to be my manager. I accepted. As soon as I'd made a demo (a fairly unmemorable experience, with a fairly unremarkable result), Jerry took it around to record companies. The first stop was Clive Davis at Columbia who apparently rejected it out of hand. Jac Holzman, at Elektra, was more positive, however, and even though his whole staff had vetoed signing me, he was willing to override them. I was signed in 1970.
Thinking I wasn't much of a writer, Jac was hoping to join me with some of the great writers of the day. I remember Tim Buckley and Paul Siebert. He introduced me to Eddie Kramer. We began production on my first solo album in the summer of 1970. By the fall, I was mixing it alone. Eddie and I had had a falling out over the drum sound on That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be and he walked out. Jerry Brandt also went on to do things other than manage me.