Carly Simon turns 68 today, and to celebrate, here are a few outfits, getups, and videos that prove she might be the underrated camp icon of all time.
Carly Simon rose to fame alongside fellow breakout singer-songwriters Joni Mitchell and Carole King, but let’s give the woman some distinct credit. First of all, “The Right Thing to Do” is about the loveliest jam I can think of, “Coming Around Again” is the best of ’80s joy, and in general she exhibits a warm cleverness that’s instantly endearing. And best of all? She is so, so wacky sometimes. Since today’s her birthday, I figured we’d celebrate with a quick trip back in time and discover Carly’s zaniest moments.
1. That time she decided she was Cleopatra in the “My New Boyfriend” video
Never forget that Carly loves to get down. Though her stage fright is notorious — she remains the one SNL musical guest ever to pre-record her appearance because she was so terrified — she really enjoys a good get-up. In the video for 1985’s “My New Boyfriend,” she predates Susanna Hoffs’ penchant for Egyptian choreography and lets dudes carry her crazy ass everywhere. Love, love, love.
2. That time she was an intergalactic blonde empress in the “Tired of Being Blonde” video
God, 1985 was a great year to be Carly Simon. Yeah, maybe your album Spoiled Girl was a commercial disappointment, but you were strutting through weird-ass music videos and dressed in tinfoil space suits like a Power Rangers villain. I contend that “Tired of Being Blonde” is the lost Carly gem of the ’80s, and not just because she finagled Jeremy Irons into directing its nutty video. But speaking of Jeremy Irons…
3. Apparently Carly Simon had an affair with Jeremy Irons.
We’ve heard the rumors about the backstory of “You’re So Vain” and how David Geffen, Mick Jagger, and Warren Beatty are probably all to blame for the apricot-scarfed shenanigans described therein, but Carly’s most fascinating fling was definitely with Jeremy Irons. Apparently Carly had a crush on him dating back to his days in the TV movie version of Brideshead Revisited. The two filmed the “Tired of Being Blonde” video, and soon they were more than professional partners. This was detailed in an unauthorized biography of Simon, but she hasn’t refuted this story since her own brother Peter confirms it within the pages. To be fair: I don’t blame her. I saw The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I know what she wanted.
4. One time she wore a striped, tailored, cinched pajama suit… to win an Oscar.
Forget letting the river run; at the 1989 Oscars, Carly Simon let the seams and stripes run amok. Get a load of this ensemble, this baggy yet airtight (Are those buttons or grommets?) suit that she wore when she accepted the Academy Award for Best Original Song. And you thought Joan Cusack’s kabuki shoulder pads were the gnarliest sartorial moment of Working Girl.
In ’97, Carly released an album of standards from the ’30s and ’40s, and she dolled herself up like a femme fatale in The Postman Always Rings Twice to do it. The woman has fun with her image. Let’s love her for that.
What are your favorite Carly moments?