education, law, mental health, music, narcissists, psychology

Repost: The clarinetist who dodged a bullet…

This is a repost from June 2018. I am working on finishing reading a book that I want to review. Maybe I’ll be able to do it today. Maybe not. Anyway, I thought this was an interesting story. It appears here mostly as/is, with a couple of new videos added.

I just read an infuriating story on the New York Times.  Eric Ambramovitz, a gifted clarinet player from Canada, was just awarded $375,000 Canadian dollars from a lawsuit he filed against his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Lee.  Why?  Because she crushed his dream and cost him two years of a promising music career.

In 2013, Ambramovitz and Lee were dating.  Both were music students and Abramovitz had dreams of studying under Yehuda Gilad at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, California.  But the manipulative and sneaky Ms. Lee did not want her beau of a few months to leave Canada.  So when Abramovitz received the rare, all expenses paid, highly prestigious acceptance to study under Gilad, who only takes on one or two new students per year, Lee intercepted the email, impersonated her ex boyfriend, and turned down the offer.  Then, she sent a fake email to Ambrovitz, indicating that he had not been accepted to study under Gilad at the conservatory.  Instead, he could attend the University of Southern California with a $5000 scholarship, which Lee knew would not be enough.  Abramovitz could not come up with the rest of the $50,000+ tuition charged at USC. 

Lee and Ambramovitz eventually broke up and Ambramovitz finished his bachelor’s degree in music at McGill University in Montreal.  Then in 2016, he traveled to Los Angeles to re-audition for Professor Gilad.  But Gilad was confused, because he remembered that Ambramovitz had already auditioned and turned down the chance to study with him.

It was at that point when Eric Ambramovitz came to the sickening realization that his ex girlfriend had committed some major league relationship fuckery.  He asked Mr. Gilad about the email he had received from “giladyehuda09”.  Gilad said that was not his email address.  At that point, Ambramovitz filed a police report.  Just an aside here, I’m not sure it would have occurred to me to file a police report if I had been victimized in this way, but now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense.  What Ms. Lee did was akin to identity theft.

This man has some serious musical chops! He is definitely no Squidward.

Fortunately, Ambramovitz won acceptance to the University of Southern California, where Mr. Gilad also teaches.  He completed a two year certificate, not on scholarship, and studied under the professor part time.  Professor Gilad testified in court that Ambramovitz made excellent progress studying under him.  However, Ms. Lee’s dishonest hijinks cost the gifted clarinetist two years of his career, as well as missed professional opportunities.  According to the article, 80 percent of clarinetists in North American orchestras consist of Gilad’s former students.

But he survived… and it didn’t crush his spirit.

Ms. Lee did not respond to the lawsuit and had no lawyer listed in the suit.  It’s doubtful that Ambramovitz will ever see any of the money he was awarded.  He has, however, found success as a professional clarinetist.  He just got a job working for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra after having previously worked with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. 

A few things come to mind after having read about this case.  First off, I’m amazed that Ms. Lee had access to her ex boyfriend’s email account.  I wonder why Ambramovitz wasn’t able to log into some kind of school account to see what his admittance status was.  Seems like when I applied to graduate school at USC, I had an account that showed what documents I still needed to submit.  That was in 1999.  I guess that’s not how they do things at all schools.  I see from another article (a much more complete one) that Ms. Lee also did the same thing with Mr. Abramovitz’s successful application to Julliard.

Not only is he insanely talented, but he’s also quite generous with sharing his gifts. I’m so glad he got out of that toxic relationship. He also seems like a really nice person.

I guess it just goes to show you that you can’t trust anyone.  According to another article about this case, Ms. Lee moved fast.  Within a month of their first date, Ambramovitz was staying at her apartment almost full time.  He let her use his laptop and she obviously had access to his passwords.  Actually, if she’s got cluster B tendencies, this makes perfect sense.  They tend to overwhelm their victims with whirlwind romances.  Then, once the poor victim is hooked, cluster B, high conflict types turn into horrible people.   

I’m glad Ambramovitz broke up with that miserable woman.  What an awful thing she did to him!  I hope karma kicks her ass.  But… at least he didn’t marry her.  This kind of sabotaging behavior is what Bill experienced firsthand when he was married to his ex wife.  I liken being in a relationship with someone like that to being chained to a dead tree.  A dead tree might eventually rot enough so a victim can escape, but it could take years of soul crushing before that happens.

Bill suffered damage to his career, his relations with his family, and his finances before he was finally able to break away from his psycho cluster B ex.  While Ambramovitz’s situation is heartbreaking on many levels, at least his story has a happy ending…  as does Bill’s.  Not everyone is so lucky.

ETA: September 2021… I may have to write some about Gabby Petito later. Unfortunately, her story didn’t have a happy ending. Also… fun fact– many years ago, I played clarinet myself. But I did not have a gift for it.

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book reviews, celebrities, music

Repost: Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart write their life stories in Kicking & Dreaming…

I am reposting this May 2014 review I wrote of Ann and Nancy Wilson’s, book Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll. For some reason, I never shared it on my blogs, so technically it’s not a repost from them. It was originally published on PopRockNation, and appears here as/is.

I have admired Ann and Nancy Wilson, talented sisters from Seattle, for as long as I can remember. These two women are among the most respected women in rock & roll. They have enjoyed a career that has spanned over four decades and are longstanding members of a band that has had chart topping songs since the 1970s. Heart is one of a very few bands that has enjoyed that kind of success and Ann and Nancy Wilson were integral to making that success a reality.

Since I am myself a singer and I do love my rock & roll, it seemed natural that I’d want to read Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll. The book was published in 2012, but I just got around to reading it. This book was a lot of fun to read and made me like the Wilson sisters even more than I did before. Ghostwriter Charles R. Cross did a masterful job in making this book sound as if it came straight from the Wilson sisters. When I finished reading, I felt like I’d love to know them as friends.

Back in 2008, Ann Wilson released an album called Hope & Glory. It consisted of duets she did with a number of different famous singers like Elton John, Alison Krauss, Gretchen Wilson, and Wynonna. I remember thinking at the time that the album was very left wing and political, since the songs were mostly covers of anti-war songs. I am married to a man who is about to retire from the Army, so the subject of war is a personal one for me. I bought this album when it first came out and listened to it fairly regularly for a time. At the time, I had no knowledge of the Wilson sisters’ own history with the military. I didn’t know they were Marine brats.

Ann Wilson covers Neil Young’s “War of Man” with help from Alison Krauss.

Ann, Nancy, and Lynn Wilson were the three daughters of John (Dotes) and Lois Wilson, a Marine and his wife. As kids, they had the typical military brat upbringing, with constant moves stateside and abroad. They spent time in Asia, with a couple of years in Taiwan, then came back to California, where Ann had been born in 1950. Eventually, their father left the Marines and became a teacher. The family made a permanent home in Bellevue, Washington, where Ann and Nancy Wilson blossomed into talented musicians who would one day be world famous rock stars.

Kicking & Dreaming is a very engaging book. Each chapter starts with an amusing rundown of what the chapter is about… kind of like a synopsis one might read in a TV Guide. Each sister’s voice is identified before she spins an old story of growing up in the Pacific Northwest, then growing into a music career. The Wilson sisters were fortunate enough to attend schools that promoted the arts, and that helped lead them to learning their craft.

At the age of 12, Nancy Wilson was a good enough guitar player that she was teaching others how to play. Ann was becoming a notable singer, with a big voice that seemed custom made for singing rock & roll. She and Nancy cut their teeth on songs by Led Zeppelin and Elton John. In Heart’s early days, the band’s bread and butter was capably covering songs made famous by other people. They would sneak their original material into their set lists at high school proms and in clubs. Many of the earliest shows were in Canada, because one of Heart’s original members had been a Vietnam draft dodger and couldn’t be in the United States. Consequently, Heart was originally more of a Canadian act… and they even got to play Michael J. Fox’s prom!

Heart sings Magic Man, a song they explain in their book.

The Wilsons are both big fans of rock music, too. There are some charming stories in Kicking & Dreaming about Ann and Nancy growing up, going to concerts, and going on quests to see certain rock worthies in concert. In one chapter, Nancy relates the story of how she borrowed money to buy a ticket from a scalper to see Elton John in concert. The ticket turned out to be fake and she almost got arrested when she tried to use it. Undaunted, she scaled a fence and snuck into the venue to see Elton anyway… and many years later, he became a friend and was the very first person to hear their 2012 album, Fanatic, as they were producing it in a hotel room! Another anecdote is about how Nancy and a friend went on a fruitless quest to find Joni Mitchell’s farm in Canada. Ann and Nancy eventually did meet Joni years later. What struck me about the Wilsons is how grounded and normal they seem; here they are big stars themselves, yet they write of being starstruck when in the presence of people like Paul McCartney.

Kicking & Dreaming doesn’t shy away from the more painful topics, either. Ann and Nancy Wilson had to deal with sexism from music business executives and fellow rock stars alike. In one anecdote, the Wilson sisters write about touring with Lynyrd Skynyrd and, because they were women, being tasked to watch the young son of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s drummer, Artimus Pyle. Pyle basically dropped his kid off with Ann and Nancy and expected them to babysit while he went out on an “errand”. The boy ended up spending the night with the Wilson sisters. Artimus Pyle was later in the 1977 plane crash that killed several members of Lynyrd Skynyrd; he was seriously injured, but ultimately survived.

I also read about Ann Wilson’s struggles with obesity and alcoholism and the health problems that came from those issues. I read about both sisters’ quests for motherhood, which they both achieved, though not through giving birth themselves. They share details about their love affairs and friendships, some of which were with fellow famous people. It made for fascinating reading. I have a lot of empathy for both of them, even as I realize how lucky they are to be so talented and successful. Of course, being talented and successful is no barrier to personal demons and psychic pain; they have both dealt with their fair share. Fortunately, they are close to each other and their older sister, Lynn. They also have many lifelong friends, including Sue Ennis, a songwriter they met when they were just girls. Sue Ennis is a member of the Lovemongers, a band the Wilson sisters formed in the 1990s. She also teaches songwriting and music business classes at Shoreline Community College in Seattle, Washington.

An energetic Heart performance of “Straight On”.

I got a big kick out of the chapter in which Nancy Wilson writes about Sarah Palin’s political campaign ripping off Heart’s big hit, “Barracuda”. When Sarah Palin was a teenager, she played high school basketball and was so aggressive on the court that she was called “Sarah Barracuda”. Naturally, Heart’s big song seemed perfect for her campaign, except Heart never gave permission for her to use the song. No one in the band agreed with Palin’s Republican ideals. Moreover, the song, which was written in the 70s, is about the sleaziness of the music business. Nancy notes that it was kind of ironic that Sarah Palin’s camp would want to use it to promote Palin as a potential Vice President of the United States. In the long run, it turned out Palin’s use of “Barracuda” was lucky, since it got new people listening to it and wanting to know what the song meant.

“Barracuda” in 1977.

Kicking & Dreaming is a fantastic read for Heart fans or for anyone who just likes a rock & roll memoir. Ann and Nancy Wilson have dealt with all kinds of adversity throughout their long careers, yet they still seem like really cool women from Seattle who just want to rock and roll and are lucky enough to get paid to do it for millions of people. I highly recommend their book.

According to Nancy Wilson, Ann and Nancy got paid a lot of money to make this ad!

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book reviews, celebrities, music

Repost: Review of Don Felder’s Heaven and Hell: My Life In the Eagles…

This review was originally written for Epinions.com in May 2008. It appears here as/is.

I was pretty excited when I saw that Don Felder, former guitarist in the Eagles, had written his bookHeaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001). The book, which was published in 2008 and written with help from author Wendy Holden, was in my hot little hands just weeks after it came on the market. Although it’s a pretty sizable volume, I was able to finish it after just a few days of frenzied reading. Don Felder has a lot to say… probably much to the chagrin of his former bandmates.

Heaven and Hell begins with a quick chapter describing what it was like for Felder and his fellow Eagles before a typical show. They would emerge into a stadium, fresh from a beer drinking and cocaine session, take their places, and gaze out at the crowd. The concert would begin and Felder would enjoy the rush of adrenaline, fan adoration, and cocaine as he and the rest of the Eagles launched into “Hotel California”. After this very brief look at life as a rock star, Felder begins his life story, starting at the beginning.

Don Felder was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida. He grew up poor and survived a bout with polio, the second son of hardworking parents who lived in a house Felder’s father had built with his own two hands. While he was sick with polio as a small child, Don Felder discovered the joy of music. One day, he traded some firecrackers for a neighbor’s old guitar and started learning how to play. It wasn’t long before Felder was so good that he was playing gigs and teaching other people how to play. One of his earliest students was none other than Tom Petty. Felder seemed destined for a career as a rock star.

With friends like founding Eagle, Bernie Leadon, Duane and Gregg Allman, and Graham Nash, it certainly seemed like Don Felder had plenty of contacts who could help him get his foot in the door of the music business. As Heaven and Hell continues, Felder explains how he came to meet and marry his wife and eventually end up in southern California where his destiny as a star awaited. Using a very laid back style, Felder continues the story of how he gave up a gig with Stephen Stills to become a part of the Eagles, a band that is notoriously private, yet extremely popular.

It was Felder’s friendship with Bernie Leadon that led him to meet the other members of the Eagles circa 1971, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Randy Meisner. Felder describes how each band member had a unique style and talent that, when blended together, created what became known as the “California Rock” sound. Back in the early 70s, the Eagles’ style was decidedly more country than rock. Felder describes the early Eagles as a bunch of young guys who enjoyed drinking, drugging, and getting laid. All of them, except for Randy Meisner, were single and apparently very horny. Don Felder joined them for jam session. A few years after that, he moved to California and officially became an Eagle in 1974.

Felder and his co-author then describe what a mixed blessing being an Eagle actually was. Here he was, a member of an extraordinarily talented band that would one day be the biggest selling act in America. He was doing what he loved, adored by fans, and making a lot of money. He was also constantly on the road, dealing with the lonely grind of touring. Drugs and girls were constant temptations for Felder, who was happily married and a father. Worst of all, none of the Eagles seemed to get along. Though they made beautiful music together and each Eagle brought something special to the group, the band members bickered amongst each other constantly. Apparently, even in Felder’s early days as an Eagle, there was extreme contention among the band members. Don Henley and Glenn Frey were, according to Felder, the most egotistical members of the group.

Being an Eagles fan, I was pretty interested in reading about the band’s politics. However, I also enjoyed reading Felder’s many anecdotes about other rock stars he got to know. Some of the stories in Heaven and Hell are quite revealing and some are just plain hilarious.

Any Eagles fan knows that the band didn’t always play country rock. In 1976, the band developed more of a rock sound when Bernie Leadon left and was replaced by funky guitar player Joe Walsh. Felder includes some great stories about Joe Walsh; apparently, he’s quite a practical joker. Felder also includes the story about how the great song “Hotel California” came to be created and how, after the album that spawned “Hotel California”, Randy Meisner quit the band and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit. Felder writes about the people behind the scenes as well, including the Eagles’ manager and producer.

What goes up must eventually come down and that seems to be true for the Eagles as well. By 1980, the band was at the height of its success. And the band members were also fighting amongst themselves. Fueled by their egos, greed, and perhaps too much cocaine, the Eagles ended up breaking up. For the first time in years, Felder was able to go home to his family, enjoy some of the fruits of his career, and be a father to his children. Fourteen years later, the band got back together for the Hell Freezes Over tour. Felder includes some juicy bits about that reunion, too.

Yeah… this was pretty legendary.

Heaven and Hell also discusses how Don Felder was eventually fired from the Eagles and how he sued the band when it tried to force him to sell his interest. I got the feeling, as I was reading this book, that Don Felder wrote it, in part, as a way of thumbing his nose at Glenn Frey and Don Henley, who seemed to be the biggest offenders of egotistical and greedy behavior. I was certainly left with the impression that while Don Felder respected their talent as musicians, particularly Henley’s talents as a singer and song writer, he didn’t appreciate being screwed by them. Of course, Don Henley and Glenn Frey have their own sides of the story. We may never get to read what they think of what happened, but it sure is fun reading Felder’s account.

I don’t know how much of this book was written by Don Felder and how much was written by Wendy Holden. I will say that the book did seem to come from Felder– never once did I feel like it was a story told by another person. The book is long and involved, but it’s fun to read and very interesting. And again, I did laugh aloud several times, usually due to Felder’s wry descriptions of @sshole behavior coming from Glenn Frey. I don’t think the two are on good terms at all. Besides lots of juicy anecdotes, Heaven and Hell also includes lots of pictures, especially of Felder and his family.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed reading Heaven and Hell and I would, without question, recommend it to any Eagles fan or anyone who just likes to read about rock stars. While I feel like this book had a slight element of sour grapes to it, I also feel like Don Felder has every right to tell his story. By this account, it sounds like he was not treated very well and I can’t blame him for speaking out. He seems like a nice person and that makes me hope his book is successful… but I also genuinely enjoyed reading his story. It seems ironic that he was a member of a band bearing the name of a bird that symbolizes freedom, yet he’s probably never been freer in his lifetime than he is right now. I, for one, say good for Don Felder.

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book reviews, celebrities, music

Repost: Julie Andrews’ Home: A Memoir of My Early Years…

Here’s another reposted book review that I wrote for Epinions.com. It was written in November 2008, and appears here as/is.

I have always admired the great actress and singer Julie Andrews, star of My Fair LadyMary Poppins, andThe Sound of Music. I also love to read true stories, especially biographies and autobiographies. When I spotted Julie Andrews’ autobiography, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, I decided I had to read it. I wanted to know how this woman who has had such an enduring career in show business got her start.

Julie Andrews began life on October 1, 1935 on Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England, UK. Her mother was an aspiring vaudevillian actress and musician and her father was a teacher. She was born Julia Elizabeth Wells, but her name was later changed to Julie Andrews when her mother got remarried to Ted Andrews, a singer and actor. Apparently, it was thought that the name Julie flowed better with her new last name than did Julia. Julie Andrews muses that she never knew how her father felt about the name change but concedes that he must have been hurt.

Using a very intimate writing style, Andrews reveals how she grew up the product of a broken home, with a mother who drank too much and enjoyed too many extramarital affairs. Along with this turbulent home life, Julie Andrews also lived through the worst years of World War II. She includes some memories of those times, when German invasions were common and feared. She writes of hearing air raid sirens and sharp warnings from the warden who passed by. She vividly describes hiding in subway stations for safety during bombing raids and comments that her stepfather, Ted Andrews, once forgot his guitar. The guitar was very precious, since it provided him his livelihood. He managed to retrieve it and entertained the masses in the subway station. I found Andrews’ tales about living through World War II especially interesting, since I wasn’t around during that time and am now living in a place where it still leaves an enduring impression.

I like Julie. She’s a woman after my own heart.

I was also interested in reading Julie Andrews’ life story because I am a singer. Julie Andrews is, of course, a wonderful singer. She was discovered by her stepfather, who revealed her powerful four octave voice and started giving her singing lessons. Andrews’ mother was a brilliant accompanist. It wasn’t long before Julie was a part of their act. Not long after she became part of the act, she became its star, complete with top billing.

Naturally, Julie Andrews’ vocal training and performances led to later training with a string of eccentric but excellent teachers. I think I would have enjoyed reading about these experiences even if I weren’t myself a singer. Andrews’ writing makes them come alive. Since I do sing, I found I could relate a bit to her experiences. Andrews also reveals that she has perfect pitch, which I also have; it was interesting to read about that as well.

Julie Andrews made her Broadway debut in 1954, when she was 19 years old. She was very successful in her role in The Boy Friend, which led to one of her best known Broadway roles as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. I found Andrews’ comments about My Fair Lady fascinating, especially as she revealed tidbits about the great actor, Rex Harrison, who played Professor Higgins. Andrews also dishes about working with Richard Burton, who was apparently very crass and egotistical.

I appreciated Andrews’ reflections on her family members. She writes about her mother, stepfather, and father, of course. She also includes information about her many siblings, stepmother, and her daughter. Naturally, she also writes about her first marriage to Tony Walton.  Andrews even includes a “shocker” about her family that I wasn’t expecting.  I won’t reveal it here because I don’t want to spoil it, but I will remark that again, I found myself relating to her a bit.  Suffice it to say, it can be very tough living in a step situation.  It’s also tough living with an alcoholic.  Julie Andrews managed to do both and flourish.

Home includes two generous black and white photo sections, with pictures of her parents and grandparents as well as Andrews herself as a little girl. There are also photographs of Andrews in her roles. Unfortunately, Andrews rather abruptly ends this part of her life story at 1962, just as she was on verge of making Mary Poppins for Walt Disney. I was disappointed at the end of this book, because I wanted to know more about her later years. I hope she comes out with a sequel.

In any case, I think Home: A Memoir of My Early Years is worthwhile reading for anyone who enjoys a good memoir. Julie Andrews writes as if she’s sitting down and talking with her readers. I could practically hear her chirpy voice in my ears as I read her very personal and revealing narrative. I wish this book hadn’t ended quite as abruptly as it did, but as it is, she had a lot to write about during the first 27 years of her life. It leaves me hoping that her next book will be just as satisfying.

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book reviews, celebrities, love, marriage, memories

Repost: My review of Carly Simon’s book, Boys in the Trees: A Memoir…

I originally published this book review on my old blog on December 14, 2016. It appears here as/is.

I have long admired singer-songwriter Carly Simon.  Having been born in the early 1970s, her music, and that of her ex husband’s, James Taylor, has been a part of my personal soundtrack for many years.  I also enjoy reading life stories, especially by people I admire.  I downloaded Carly Simon’s 2015 memoir on the day it was released, but I’ve only just read it.  I tend to download a lot of stuff that interests me and it sits in the queue until the mood strikes for me to read it.  There was a time when I would have greedily devoured this book days after its release, but I guess I’m slowing down in my old age.

Anyway, Carly’s book is entitled Boys in the Trees: A Memoir.  I like the book’s title, since it references the title song from her 1978 album, which I remember almost wearing out during Christmas break 1991.  I had a month at home with my parents and had always loved the song “You Belong To Me”.  I bought the CD and played it non-stop.  It was a comfort during those bleak winter days when I was 19 years old and hating the semester break at home from college.

Simon’s book starts with her story of growing up in New York, the daughter of Richard Simon, one of the founders of the Simon & Schuster publishing company.  She had a privileged upbringing, surrounded by family and friends.  Her two older sisters were beautiful and talented.  Her brother, Peter, was younger and the son her father had wanted.  Carly writes that she was supposed to have been a boy named Carl, but when she came out female, her father simply added a “y” to the name.  Carly Simon’s father evidently didn’t mesh that well with his third child.  He was the first of many men to disappoint her.

As Simon grew older, her father grew frail.  Sidelined by strokes, he was eventually convinced to sell his interest in Simon & Schuster.  Carly’s mother, Andrea, fell out of love with her husband and had an affair with a much younger man named Ronny.  Starting at age 7, Carly also suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a visiting teenager who had seen porn and wanted to replicate it.

As a teenager, Carly Simon lived in Martha’s Vineyard. James Taylor’s family also had a home there and that was where the two of them met, when they were adolescents. In November 1972, they would marry at City Hall, wearing wedding bands they purchased for $17.95 each, at a Middle Eastern kiosk. The rings weren’t even the ones that had been on sale. Simon had been involved with other men, notably Mick Jagger and Warren Beatty. Taylor had been seeing Joni Mitchell before he hooked up with Carly. But they were destined to be together and make two children, Sally and Ben.

When James and Carly were still married.

Boys in the Trees is divided into three books.  I think Simon was wise to divide the book that way, since her story is not one that necessarily lends itself to seamlessness.  The last book is about her marriage to James Taylor, a man she clearly deeply admires and probably still even loves.  Sadly, James Taylor was apparently not a very good husband in the 1970s.  He had a pretty serious drug and alcohol problem, which Simon references, as well as a penchant for affairs with other women.  They were together when their careers were both smoking hot and, though they were able to make beautiful music together, it wasn’t enough to forge a commitment.  

Simon writes that things really went to hell in her marriage to James Taylor after she’d become a mother.  Suddenly, the children were more important and she could no longer turn a blind eye to Taylor’s dalliances.  I got the sense that perhaps James Taylor resented that.  In any case, she basically makes James Taylor of the 1970s out to be a selfish ass.  Whether or not he still is, I don’t know.

Wow… 40 years ago.

Naturally, whenever I read about another person’s relationship, I wonder a bit about the other sides of the story. And there always are other sides to include the truth. I don’t think Carly Simon is lying about what happened, and she admits to being difficult herself. But naturally, this book skews toward her perspective… not that I think cheating and drug abuse is necessarily acceptable behavior. Simon writes that she still lives in the house they lived in and much of it still bears Taylor’s design marks, some of which were not as inspired as his songwriting.

I think Carly Simon would have made a fine author had she not been a musician.  Her writing is elegant and interesting and I enjoyed reading about the many inspirations behind songs I’ve loved for years.  When she was married to Taylor, the two collaborated a lot on their albums.  It was cool to read about how Carly Simon came up with the ending coda for “Terra Nova”, a gorgeous collaboration on Taylor’s 1977 JT.  I well remember the hit song “Jesse” from the early 80s, which she reveals was actually inspired by her son, Ben.

As someone who has experienced anxiety and depression, I appreciated Carly’s revelations about her own issues with panic attacks.  She writes about one serious attack she suffered in Pittsburgh back in 1981, when she had to call upon the audience to help her.  She writes that she still gets letters from people who were at that concert, many of whom express a great deal of empathy for the situation she was in at the time.  Panic and anxiety kept Carly Simon off the public stage for several years.

Curiously, Simon’s book ends basically with her split from Taylor.  She doesn’t write about her second marriage to and divorce from poet Jim Hart, although she does mention him in her acknowledgments.  She doesn’t write much about her breast cancer battle, nor does she write about how it felt to become a grandmother.  But perhaps those stories will come later.

In any case, I really enjoyed Carly Simon’s memoir, Boys in the Trees.  I recommend it.

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