Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine Day’s Video: Carly Simon Live, ‘The Right Thing To Do’

This YouTube video, which I discovered this past weekend, comes from the 1987 HBO special "Carly Simon—Coming Around Again." "The Right Thing To Do" was, in a real sense, my introduction to the wondrous singer-songwriter Carly Simon, as it was the opening cut of the first LP of hers that I ever owned, No Secrets.

Unlike the monster single from that collection, “You’re So Vain,” the song is not interested in slapping down a caddish former lover. However, we don’t learn why the lover in this song merits such tenderness, and the one hint we receive about what he’s like is not reassuring. (“I know you’ve had some bad luck with ladies before/They drove you or they drove you crazy”). 

While Simon has not always pinpointed the subjects of her confessional songs, she readily admits that this one was about the early stages of her relationship with James Taylor--making all the more poignant the heartfelt yearning she still displays here, several years after the collapse of their marriage.

But Simon was in a good place when she sang this live: She was at the beginning of her second marriage, in the midst of a career resurgence following the album Coming Around Again, and about to start work on her Oscar-winning song from the film Working Girl, “Let the River Run.” That self-confidence may accounts for the fact that, after a long time, she was able to surmount her well-known crippling stage fright.

We have this video to remind us that she had nothing whatsoever to fear, either because of her voice or her audience.

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