COVE, MARTHAíS VINEYARD, Mass. ó His fishing rod lay
on the beam above the bookshelf for decades, long after
he was gone. In his wake, she filled the room with
velvet pillows, crystals, gauzy curtains, orchids. But
Carly Simon remembers how it looked when she first moved
here in 1971, into what James Taylor called his
it was just a small cabin, hidden beneath ladyís
slippers and scrub oak on his 175-acre plot of land.
Tools hung from the wall. The bathroom had no door. A
pyramid of fan mail piled up in the corner; she
responded to the letters, he signed them.
think of that time a lot," she said, sitting on a
couch that was in the spot where her bed with Taylor
used to be. "Itís part of my blood, my bones, all
the liquid in my body. Iíve just taken him in so heís
in my core."
they divorced in 1983, Simon stayed here, on what she
now calls Hidden Star Hill. Itís where she spent the
last four years writing her memoir, "Boys in the
Trees" (Flatiron: 384 pp., $28.99). The book has
all of the juicy details longtime fans will salivate
over: tales about her flirtations with Jack Nicholson
and Mick Jagger, her passionate and rocky 10-year
marriage to Taylor and, yes, the story behind the lyrics
of "Youíre So Vain." The memoir even has a
musical companion, "Songs in the Trees," a
two-disc compilation of Simonís music with songs that
correlate to different chapters in the book.
than that, "Boys in the Trees" is about a
womanís lifelong quest for self-acceptance. Growing
up, Simon writes, she constantly felt inadequate. Her
father, the co-founder of publishing house Simon &
Schuster, paid little attention to her. Her mother was
distracted, in the midst of an affair with a man less
than half her age. Her older sisters knew about the
affair but hid it from her.
grew up with lots of mystery in my house,"
explained Simon, now 70 and still as statuesque as she
was on the cover of her "Anticipation" album.
"I was always feeling on shaky ground when I was
growing up. I didnít know what was what, and that led
me to feel very insecure."
part of what drove her to write her memoir. She never
wanted her own children, Sally, 41, and Ben, 38 ó both
of whom she had with Taylor ó to live with
wanted them to know the truth, as awful as it might look
sometimes," she said. "Iím sure that James
Taylor, if he reads this book, is going to say, ĎThis
isnít how I remember it.í This is the truth as I see
it. Ö Itís important to me that the kids know we
were very close and sincerely in love. I donít want
them to see me through Jamesí eyes, the way Jamesí
eyes are looking at me now."
if on cue, Sally suddenly appeared, tip-toeing through
the living room on her way to the kitchen. She was
staying at her motherís house for the weekend because
she had an art exhibit on display down the road.
donít think there were any big surprises, were there,
Sal?" Simon asked.
wasnít surprising, it was just shocking," her
daughter replied. "Your mind does all the equations
around your parentsí life before you actually find out
the exactitude of it. I already had the outline. I
painted it my own way."
couple of hours later, away from the house at her art
show, Sally said she would frequently ask questions
about her momís past and was granted access to the 50
diaries that Simon drew from to write "Boys in the
Trees." And like many children of divorce, Sallyís
view of her youth is divided into before ó surrounded
by light and friends and parties ó and after, when her
parents got sucked into a tug-of-war over who would own
the house in Lambertís Cove.
that house really represents is ownership of the
experience of being married to each other," Sally
said. "It could have been sold and become part of
our history, just like their relationship is. It lives.
Itís like the third child, in a way."
Simon first moved back into Hidden Star Hill, she was so
upset that she hoisted the king-sized mattress Taylor
and his new girlfriend, Kathryn Walker, had been
sleeping on over the balcony. She tried to set fire to
it in the woods, but it wouldnít ignite because it was
made of foam.
know how they say if your child is in danger, you can
lift a car?" Simon asked. "Well, my soul was
in danger and I lifted a king-size foam mattress over
and Simon havenít spoken since they separated, and his
representative did not return a request to be
interviewed for this story. Her kids, she said, arenít
allowed to give her his telephone number. "Itís a
complete shut out," she said. "I donít
if Simon is angry at Taylor, she doesnít show it in
"Boys in the Trees." As she describes it, the
love she had for him was profound. Before she even met
him, she saw his face on the cover of Time magazine and
decided that they would someday marry. In the book, she
recalls that the first night they spent together, after
he played a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1971, he said heíd
prefer simply to lie next to her rather than have sex.
"The connecting of our skin went more than
inches," she writes. "He was four inches
taller and his torso was much longer than mine, but it
felt as though a manufacturer of bodies had copied our
limbs and made them a perfect double."
Simon still seems protective of Taylor. Though he had a
long, much-publicized struggle with substance abuse, in
the book Simon only describes seeing him do heroin once.
They were in a room at the Chateau Marmont when he
pulled out a piece of rubber, a syringe and a powdery
substance. She recalls him asking her to watch him shoot
up because "I canít have you and the habit at the
was afraid of drugs and said she tried heroin only once
ó at a New Yearís Eve party in the í80s. She
rubbed it on her gums, and it was the most awful
experience of her life, like a "cotton ball had
infused [her] soul," she said with a shudder.
child of the free-love generation, Simon certainly
looked the part of a í70s folk goddess with her long
hair, knee-high boots, floppy hats. Often, critics paid
more attention to her looks than her music, branding her
a sex symbol.
in fact, Simon has never felt at ease in her body. She
reveals in her book that at 7 she was molested by an
older boy, which she believes had a large part to do
with her low opinion of herself. When she started
keeping a diary as a girl, she was so uncomfortable
seeing words like "sex" and "bra" in
print that she invented code names for them. (Bra was
this: Ďseductress?í" she said, picking up her
book and flipping to the inside jacket, where she is
described using various bold adjectives. "I told
them they couldnít use that. Thatís not how I see
also somewhat bothered by the publicís fascination
with figuring out who "Youíre So Vain" is
not exactly like ĎDeep Throatí where it affected the
politics of more than a generation," she said with
a scoff. (For the record, Simon writes that the second
verse of the song is about Warren Beatty. She is keeping
the subjects of the other two verses to herself.)
never planned to write a book; over the last few years,
sheís been focused on instrumental music because she
is "slightly" losing her voice. She hasnít
gone on an extensive tour in years because of paralyzing
stage fright ó a topic that she would not even broach
because she was so anxious about a recent appearance on
"The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."
fact that Iíve never toured has limited my career
considerably. I could have been rich," she said.
"Iím content, but I donít own this house. The
sheís content in this home, which she shares with her
boyfriend of a decade, surgeon Richard Koehler. He was
out performing an appendectomy, so she walked up the
spiral staircase to their bedroom. Her dog, a cavapoo
named after the Steely Dan song "Aja," rested
on a chair cushion.
walked over to her closet and started pulling out long
coats and metal belts to try on for a photo shoot.
Somewhere, buried in a pile of shoes, was the Academy
Award she won for her 1988 song "Let the River
like an example of self-esteem gone awry," she said
with a smile.
then she suddenly pulled off her shirt without
hesitation, revealing her taut stomach. "I eat lots
of yogurt," she explained, sensing the eyes on her.
"I eat like a yogi."
settled on a belt from 20 years ago that still fit and
picked up a floppy hat. When she picked up a guitar and
headed outside, it was almost as if no time had passed
at all here on Hidden Star Hill. Though Taylorís
fishing rod? Itís gone now. It was one of the last
remaining physical remnants of their relationship, and
she finally got rid of it after she finished her book.
decided it was best to take it down," she said.
"If I really wanted to have another life, I had to