Introduction by Carly Simon
I've always wondered what would happen if I held on to one song long enough to make it perfect by my standards. I would keep it locked up in my creative chamber and feed it daily with new ideas, better chord changes, a dream-inspired alteration in the melody, a more sonorous word, more alliteration, simplification, cleaner lines. I suppose it would be somewhat like raising the perfect child. At what point does it become a monster child? Robot-like or over studied, precious? One of the interesting problems the songwriter faces is when to let the song go. Often it is just a matter of deadline and I think back and look at the songs I have chosen to include here, it is significant, the part that practicality plays. You gotta get it done. But when there is no deadline what is it that makes you finish a song? I have come to believe that you must fall in love. When you really fall in love with a song, it becomes perfect for that moment in time. Maybe in a year you'll look back and say: "How could I have loved that song so much?" But in the first blush, the honeymoon period, the song can do no wrong. That is when you want to shout it to the world and parade it in front of your friends. I think that's what the act of creativity must be about. It's about making something you believe is better than you are, and for a moment, you merge with it and think it's you and you are it. Even when I am in a state of self loathing I can write something that I fall in love with.
Deluded though I might be, it makes me feel better about myself and it usually inspires me to write another song. This goes not only for songwriting, but for fixing dinner or arranging flowers. At some point, and mostly it's a combination of accident and inspiration (being led by a larger hand), it comes together in a way that seems just right at the time, and that is the time to let it go. Sometimes it's just because it fits for the day. It may not be the greatest song, but it fits your soul at the moment and therefore speaks honestly. So you let it go out there into the great, big, kind, cruel and indifferent universe. If you’ve been lucky, as I have been, the kind of universe contains producers and musicians who often, and without a whole lot of fanfare or credit, do a huge amount to bring the song to the point of becoming a record. Without these creative souls, I would still be singing to myself on my bed. There are exceptional musicians who have come into my life recently and I hope to have long and fruitful relationships with them. To mention everyone would take up all the space in this book, but not to name a few people who have been constants in my life from the early days in the studio would be an oversight. Here are the ones that keep coming back for more (because I beg them), Jimmy Bralower, Michael Brecker, Paul Buckmaster, Frank Filipetti, Steve Gadd, Teese Gohl, Don Grolnick, Russ Kunkel, Will Lee, Tony Levin, Mike Mainieri, Arif Mardin, Rick Marotta, Hugh McCracken, Andy Newmark, Richard Perry, Jimmy Ryan, Paul Samwell-Smith, David Sanborn and T. Bone Wolk.
One last word: The reasons for choosing the songs I did had to do sometimes with availability. Politics played an unavoidable part. There are songs that are missing, not too glaringly I hope. Basically though, the ones that are contained herein are the songs that hold a special meaning for me, and sometimes, only for me.
There are some very dear people in my life who need mentioning apart from the musicians and producers already mentioned: Simon Andrews, Catrice Barnes, Jerry Barnes, Jake Brackman, Peter Calo, Brian Doyle, Cathy Dougherty, Nora Ephron, Rick Flynn, David Geffen, Michael Fuchs, Steve Harris, Jim Hart, Jac Holzman, Steve Huff, Ted Jensen, Quincy Jones, Curtis King, Michael Kosarin, Jacqueline Kotler, Eddie Kramer, Peter Levine, Scott Litt, Ed London, Robin Mathiesen, Rob Mounsey, Steve Murphy, Mike Nichols, Mo Ostin, Marty Paich, Mick Rossi, Howard Seigel, Cathy Shoemaker, Lucy Simon, Joe Smith, Ben Taylor, Sally Taylor, Ted Templeman, Doug Winbish, Steve Zapp, Strauss Zelnick, and Dirk Ziff.
Thank you Arista for all your support and for putting this box set together. Clive Davis, Roy Lott, Steve Bartels, Minton Sincoff, Jim Urie, Tom Ennis, Bruce Schoen, Mark Rizzo, Howard Leon, Cathryn Swan and Cord Himelstein.
Thanks also to all of the other record company executives who generously allowed material from their archives to be included: Louise Black, Dan Butler, Gary Casson, Ralph DePalma, Sharon Edelson, Donna Fetchko, Felicia Gearhart, Jerry Greenberg, Kathleen Hale, Beverly Hebelka, Jolie Levine, Mark Leviton, Frank Lopez, Rhonda Malmlund, Eli Okun, Michael Pollack, Mark Schwartz, Gina Spencer, Mitch Steele, Lisa Weissberg, and Keith Zajic. Thank you all for wisely remembering that we are all one family and that sometimes the heads of families change, but the music must keep rolling.