Taylor was seeing someone else, which Simon noticed after seeing pictures of him with his then-girlfriend Joni Mitchell in Rolling stones. “I remember thinking: I’m so jealous,” Simon shared AX TV in 2021. “Why am I jealous? This makes no sense at all. I don’t know him.”
Simon had been interested in Taylor since early 1971, when she passed a newsstand with a copy of Time magazine while returning home from a movie with her sister. The cover contained a artistic rendering by Taylor, done in psychedelic colors.
“Without thinking, I confidently exclaimed, ‘I’m going to marry him.’ How did I know? People have asked me over the years,” Simon wrote in his 2015 memoir Boys in the trees. “The only answer I can come up with is that he, James, was perfect for me in every way. If you believe in predestination or clairvoyance, that would be a great example of why you’re right.”
The couple knew each other in passing from childhood when they spent summers vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, but Taylor recalled holding back when they were teenagers. “I thought she was quite attractive,” he said Rolling stones in 1973, “but she was—and still is—four years older than I was. So then, when she was 18 and I was 14. She was a little less forthcoming than she was when I was 24.”
There was a brief meeting in the late ’60s, but it was only a quick “hello” in the driveway of Taylor’s mother’s house. Carly and her brother Peter stopped by to talk to Taylor’s siblings Livingston about a job Simon and Livingston were to do together. “I walked by Peter and Carly and said, ‘Hi,'” Taylor recalled, “and Peter said, ‘Hi, this is my sister Carly,’ and I left. I think I had an album out on it point in time.”
Watch Carly Simon and James Taylor Perform ‘Mockingbird’
They met more formally on April 6, 1971, when Taylor came to see her open for Cat Stevens at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. The memory remained vivid, decades later, when Simon wrote his autobiography.
“He was barefoot, long-legged, long-legged — and the knees were bent. He wore dark red, loose, baggy corduroy pants and a long-sleeved Henley with one button open, his right hand clutching a self-rolling cigarette,” she wrote. “His hair, at once shiny and tousled, fell evenly on either side of his head, and he sported a scraggly, understated moustache, the kind that was so fashionable back in the early 1970s. He seemed both boring and unkempt. Even spread out on the floor. , everything about him communicated that he was, in fact, the center of something—the core of an apple, the center of a note.”
Something about Simon also struck Taylor. “I saw Carly on the street shortly after I met her,” Taylor said in 1973, “and I followed her and thought she was a different woman. I thought, ‘What a beautiful woman she is.’ Then I realized it was Carly. It makes you very happy when you do.”
The idea of getting married came up spontaneously one day while the couple was in London. When asked why he committed, Taylor later said that “it’s the way we always heard it was supposed to be,” a wry reference to one of Simon’s songs about marriage. In fact, she said Taylor was hesitant.
He initially argued that there was little point in getting married since they were already living together. Later that day, however, Taylor brought the subject up again. “I said, ‘Well, what happened between this morning and this afternoon?'” Simon recalled. “He said, ‘This afternoon it was my idea’.”
The couple married on Nov. 3, 1972, in a small ceremony at Simon’s apartment in New York City. Simon said the moment left her with a distinct sense of security, “and that’s because James was my safe person. At first it was almost too much to imagine that I was married to this amazing person who I would only learn better and better and better to know. over the years and I couldn’t wait.”
In retrospect, Taylor saw the potential pitfalls of their union. His struggles with drug addiction only intensified as the 60s gave way to the 70s. “It was a little doomed,” Taylor later admitted. “I mean really, it was just—I was unfit to be a husband and a father.”
Listen to Carly Simon and James Taylor Duet on ‘Devoted to You’
They were also both very successful, public figures in the music industry. “It’s a strange situation,” Simon said in 1973. “I think it’s one to do with fear of competition. . . . Sometimes I feel like it’s a male-female thing. Because every man I’ve been involved with in the past hasn’t liked my success, hasn’t wanted me to succeed, has felt very threatened by that fact.”
Taylor insisted he wanted his wife’s career to flourish: “I’m very interested in not seeing Carly behind the stove because I see women living completely vicariously through their husbands and it drives them crazy and it drives the man to madness..”
They frequently guested on each other’s albums throughout the ’70s, including two hit singles as duet partners: a cover of Inez & Charlie Foxx’s “Mockingbird” and a cover of Everly Brothers‘ “Dedicated to you.” Simon and Taylor also had two children, a daughter named Sarah in 1974 and a son, Benjamin, in 1977.
As time went on, however, it became clear that a barrier was forming. Taylor’s drug addiction created what Simon felt was an impenetrable boundary and she couldn’t reach him no matter how hard she tried. With the benefit of hindsight, she realized that Taylor was fighting something deeper rooted.
“Anything could have happened,” Simon told me People magazine in 2015. “If it hadn’t been the drugs, if the demons that were in him went somewhere other than drugs, it would have been something other than drugs that would have been hard to live with, I think, too. “
They eventually lost the sense of connection that had once been present, and Simon filed for divorce in 1983. She confirmed that they had not spoken for decades after the publication of Boys in the trees. Still, she bore no ill will toward Taylor. Asked if she still loved him, Simon didn’t hesitate: “Absolutely.”
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