Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on May 15th 2008 5:00PM by David Chiu
"I thought she was better than I am -- much, much better," the singer-songwriter tells Spinner. "And I don't want to ever sing the song again because she was so good. She's a total winner."
It might be the highest compliment ever paid to a young singer from a legendary artist who wrote one of pop music's most enigmatic songs. Simon's 'You're So Vain' became a No. 1 hit 35 years ago and continues to remain a mystery to this day: Is the song about Warren Beatty, Cat Stevens, Mick Jagger or Kris Kristofferson? It has been a best-kept secret for so long that only a few people, including NBC executive Dick Ebersol, know the answer. "You know, I've even forgotten who I wrote it about," says Simon coyly.
Of course, Simon has racked up hit songs long after 'You're So Vain' ('Nobody Does It Better,' 'You Belong to Me,' 'Coming Around Again,' to name just a smattering) and recorded countless albums. She is releasing her latest one, 'This Kind of Love,' her first collection of original songs since 'The Bedroom Tapes' in 2000, on Starbucks' Hear Music label. Co-produced by Simon with legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb and Frank Filipetti, 'This Kind of Love' is a rich, romantic-sounding album that draws on pop, soul and particularly Brazilian rhythms.
"When I listen to the music of [Brazilian singer] Caetano Veloso," she says, "I realized that you don't have to stick to Brazilian music to use it on an album. He's also drawing on the music of Italian and French movies, American rock 'n' roll and Frank Sinatra. There is a diversity that he's doing, which was what I was aiming for."
'This Kind of Love' also features songwriting contributions from Simon's grown-up children and musicians in their own right, Ben and Sally, whom she had with her first husband, James Taylor. "They're both so talented in so many areas," says Simon. "They're gifted people." She admits that she has to be more careful when recording her children's songs. "Ben and Sally have always been people who I've respected so much," she says. "That it's really hard for me to do anything but listen to them and impart some wisdom."
While Ben and Sally follow their famous parents' footsteps, Simon acknowledges that making it in music for a young artist is a lot different now than it was for her back in the early '70s. "You have to be able to hit a high note that's gonna thrill people," she explains. "And the more people that take singing lessons move away from a voice that you can tell apart from another voice. If you're trying to sound like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston or Celine Dion, you're gonna get away from what your true sound is ... that you were born with."
Besides working on her latest children's book (she's written several), Simon plans to perform her songs live to an audience -- maybe while you're sitting and drinking that next cup of cafe latte. "I'm just going to be showing up in various Starbucks around the country," she says, "and [do] impromptu performances. I'm really hoping to do it. I think it's going to be a lot of fun."