Carly Simon is easily recognizable, physically and vocally, as a Hall of Famer should be
By Phill Marder
(No. 52 in a series on artists who should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but are not)
Laura Nyro was nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame three consecutive years. She finally made it this year.
Did Nyro have enough votes? Who knows? The Hall of Fame chooses not to make its voting public. Probably for good reason.
When Nyro makes the Hall of Fame, one has to take a look at some of the names who haven't, Connie Francis, Linda Ronstadt, Dionne Warwick, Mary Wells, Donna Summer or Cher, for instance. All have been profiled earlier in "Great Blogs of Fire" and all made tons more memorable records than Nyro.
But Nyro was a songwriter of note. True, Nyro did pen a few songs of merit. But then again, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Bob Crewe, PF Sloan, Jimmy Webb, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and many other songwriters have accomplishments dwarfing Nyro's, not to mention the countless singer-songwriters who have written and performed hit after hit with nary a nod of recognition from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Now I'm not picking on Laura Nyro here. Really. Trust me. She was a talented lady who, to some evidently, was Hall of Fame worthy. And maybe those some are correct and I'm a nutcase. But unless you're going to argue the "I" word which, of course, is impossible to defend or detract from, then everyone mentioned above plus a plethora of others should have preceded her. So my argument isn't with Nyro. It is, as usual, with the Hall of Fame and its method of induction.
The reason Nyro came to mind this week is because of today's topic, an artist who matches Nyro in every criteria - she's a woman, she's a songwriter, she's a performer, she recorded at approximately the same time, and her records were released on a major label.
I'm writing about Carly Simon.
And when I'm finished, you tell me why Laura Nyro should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame before Carly Simon. And remember, if you choose to make that argument you must do so without using that most foul of four-letter words - influence. You can use any argument you like. But don't tell me Laura Nyro was more influential than Carly Simon. You can't prove it and if you can't prove it, you must remove it.
And also remember, the immortal words of Goldmine reader Paul K. of Kentucky, who so adeptly noted, "It is supposed to be a ‘Hall of Fame’, not a ‘Hall of Give You Some Fame’."
You don't have to give Simon fame. If you mention the name Carly Simon to a passer-by on the street, odds are very good they'd be able to tell you she's a singer. Probably even be able to tell you the name of a hit or two. Try it with Nyro (I have). Make sure you have your phone ready to take a picture of the blank expression almost sure to follow. And certainly, don't expect the name of a hit or two. She didn't have any.
Simon wrote and recorded two of the most memorable songs of the '70s, "You're So Vain" and "Anticipation." The former was a No. 1 across the board and listeners are still trying to figure out who she was writing about. I once thought it was me until she got to the lear jet part. I never had a lear jet. I did have an Oldsmobile once. That was a near jet, but I digress - as usual. Singing with her on "You're So Vain" was, of course, Mick Jagger. I mention this because Nyro supporters will, no doubt, mention artists who will espouse her greatness. Jagger's name shows that, if the occasion warranted, I could name drop in Simon's favor, too.
"Anticipation," besides being a great song and also a major hit, reached legendary status in a ketchup commercial. It has been relished by many. Sorry. My hot dog nature is hard to bottle up.
This LP topped the Billboard album chart for five weeks in 1972
All told, Simon had nine top 20 singles, including "Mockingbird," the duet with her former husband, James Taylor (more name dropping). Nyro had none. Simon has had eight top 20 LPs, including "No Secrets," which closed 1972 at No. 1 and remained there five weeks. While alive, Nyro's highest charting album was her second, which topped off at No. 32.
Simon was inducted into "The Songwriter's Hall of Fame" in 1994. Nyro wasn't inducted until 2010. And remember, songwriting is Nyro's chief selling point.
Simon won Grammy Awards for "Best New Artist" in 1971, "Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television" for "Let The River Run" from the 1988 film "Working Girl," and the "Grammy Hall of Fame Award" in 2004 for "You're So Vain." She also won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for "Let The River Run."
Nyro won induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
While revisionists will try to tell you Nyro sabotaged her own career by announcing her retirement at 24, the facts show that her 1969 LP "New York Tendaberry" was her highest charting at No. 32 with the next two not even making the top 40. Usually, an artist of Hall of Fame stature sees an audience growth, not a decline, as each disc is released. For instance, Simon's first two releases topped off at No. 30, but the third hit No. 1, an indication an audience was growing. Four of her next five LPs reached the top 10. And, by the way, Nyro's "retirement" didn't stick.
I don't think Carly Simon should be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ahead of those referred to in paragraphs three and four. But certainly, she should be in the same ballpark. And certainly, all those in that ballpark should have been inducted before some currently enshrined.