Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--and the Journey of a Generation

Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--and the Journey of a Generation

Sheila Weller

Language: English

Pages: 608

ISBN: 0743491483

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A groundbreaking and irresistible biography of three of America’s most important musical artists—Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon—charts their lives as women at a magical moment in time.

Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon remain among the most enduring and important women in popular music. Each woman is distinct. Carole King is the product of outer-borough, middle-class New York City; Joni Mitchell is a granddaughter of Canadian farmers; and Carly Simon is a child of the Manhattan intellectual upper crust. They collectively represent, in their lives and their songs, a great swath of American girls who came of age in the late 1960s. Their stories trace the arc of the now mythic sixties generation—female version—but in a bracingly specific and deeply recalled way, far from cliché. The history of the women of that generation has never been written—until now, through their resonant lives and emblematic songs.

Filled with the voices of many dozens of these women's intimates, who are speaking in these pages for the first time, this alternating biography reads like a novel—except it’s all true, and the heroines are famous and beloved. Sheila Weller captures the character of each woman and gives a balanced portrayal enriched by a wealth of new information.

Girls Like Us is an epic treatment of midcentury women who dared to break tradition and become what none had been before them—confessors in song, rock superstars, and adventurers of heart and soul.

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of Women in Music. Under those banner headlines stood a generation of females who’d been little girls in one America—a frantically conventional, security-mad postwar nation, without rock ’n’ roll or civil rights, and with an anxiously propagandized, stultifying image of women—and who’d created their own Dionysian counter-reality, which was now yielding an even more revolutionary chapter. Carole King’s, Joni Mitchell’s, and Carly Simon’s songs were born of and were narrating that transition—a

and Joni regarded each other: as day-for-night opposites or sisters in spirit?* Joni composed the lyrics for four of the pieces; recording commenced; then, after Mingus’s death in early January, Joni fully composed two other songs, “God Must Be a Boogie Man” and “The Wolf That Lives in Lindsey.” In “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” for which she wrote the lyrics (Rahsaan Roland Kirk had composed an earlier set) and Mingus wrote the music, Joni—utilizing images from Mingus’s biography Beneath the

trying to work with James, but I wasn’t allowed to go to the performances. It was very awkward and devastating.” One night Carly challenged that ban. When a person who worked with James ran into Carly and Russ walking into the backstage area before a concert, “I looked at Peter Asher,” the person says, “and he looked at me and we ran to the elevator and pushed the down button to get the hell out of there.” James Taylor got angry. “In hindsight,” Russ says today—with a session player’s sense of

who was opinionated and critical of her. Myrtle was a straight cat. ‘You’re going to school! You’re going to be educated! You’re going to be a good girl!’” “I saw that tension in Joni when she was a teenager,” says the woman who, as a girl, probably did more than anyone else to model rebellion for Joni. Her name was D’Arcy Case. She was Marie Brewster’s friend from Prince Albert, and her parents ran an inn on Lake Waskesiu where the Saskatoon kids hung out on vacations. Petite, brunette, and

kind of poor but classy bohemian maiden to a growing circle of fans in folk clubs from Detroit to Philadelphia, New York to Florida. San Francisco’s psychedelia—frivolous on its own—was lent gravitas by the historic bohemia of nearby Carmel and Big Sur and, especially, by the ballooning political consciousness of Berkeley, across the Bay. The university had been animated by a compelling activism, sparked by 1963’s Free Speech Movement, which in turn had been preceded by protests against the

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