When Stephen Davis gave Carly Simon a first look at his new book, “More Room in a Broken Heart: The True Adventures of Carly Simon,” he enclosed a note.
“I sent her the galleys, you know, the uncorrected proofs, and I said, ‘Carly, if you like this book, I haven’t done my job,’” Davis reveals.
The veteran music writer was right.
“I’ve talked to members of her family, and they say that she is upset with the book. And it’s not a good idea to get Carly Simon upset at you,” says Davis. “On the other hand, it would have been an even worse idea to write a boring book about Carly Simon.”
“More Room” is a far from boring account of the life of the iconic singer and her five-decade career, which is rife with huge hurdles of neuroses and great leaps in songwriting. It features bizarre cameos by the most important personalities of her time. A sampling from her youth: Pete Seeger was her kindergarten music teacher; Jackie Robinson played second base in family softball games; George Gershwin came over to hear how “Summertime” would sound with her mom sing-ing; MLK and Einstein visited for lunch. Later in the book, Marvin Gaye comes on to her, Jeremy Irons has a controversial cameo (see below for more on that) and she gets Mick Jagger to sing on her biggest hit.
A “did they?/didn’t they?” theme recurs throughout the book. She also enjoys romances with Cat Stevens, Kris Kristofferson, Warren Beatty, lots of drummers and, most notably, she endures a decade-long marriage to James Taylor that saw fire and rain.
“I think she feels that the book is too revealing,” says Davis, who usually drops at least one big bombshell with every musical biography he has written, including previous subjects Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson and Aerosmith. And Simon has been publicly making her displeasure with the book known through various outlets — but the way Davis sees it, if she’s providing free advertising, nobody does it better.
“If she would just be quiet,” he muses, “you know, you can’t buy the publicity that she’s giving this book.”
Irons in the fire
One of the guaranteed controversies of “More Room” occurs on page 320. Davis discloses that in 1984, actor Jeremy Irons cheated on his wife with Carly Simon and got the singer pregnant. She underwent an abortion, which she said was “still a terrible source of pain and guilt.”
“No one ever put that together before because it was very quiet and it was very secret, but she told me about that,” says Davis. “And I asked her about that in July and I said, ‘Look, I’m going to publish this.’ … We had been talking about Jeremy Irons and I said, ‘What about him getting you pregnant?’ There was this terrible silence. And then she goes, ‘How did you know that?’ And I said, ‘Well, you told me five years ago when I was doing the “Reflections” liner notes.’ She then said, ‘Well, I won’t deny it.’”