Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you wonderful songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we feature a little-known treasure from Carly Simon’s extensive catalog called “Like a River.” It’s a heartfelt, deeply personal and hauntingly beautiful love letter to her mother, Andrea Simon, written just after her passing in 1994.
In the song, Simon describes how she and her older siblings, Joanna and Lucy, competed for her deceased mom’s precious possessions, including a very special piece of jewelry.
She sings, “I fought over the pearls / With the other girls / But it was all a metaphor / For what was wrong with us.”
The tone of the song transitions from mourning to celebration, as Simon injects a bit of levity to emphasize her mother’s spirit. She asks her mom if she can now clear up the mystery of the Sphinx and if she’s dancing with Benjamin Franklin on the face of the moon.
She also holds the promise that she and her mom will be united in the afterlife. She writes, “I’ll wait no more for you like a daughter / That part of our life together is over / But I will wait for you, forever / Like a river…”
Today’s featured song is the fourth track from Simon’s 1994 biographical album, Letters Never Sent. Simon said the songs on the album were inspired by the discovery of an old box of letters she’d written, but had never mailed. In its review, Entertainment Weekly called the album “funky, fascinating and sumptuous.”
It’s hard to believe that Simon, one of the quintessential singer/songwriters of the 1970s and former wife of James Taylor, will celebrate her 77th birthday in June. The Bronx-born, two-time Grammy winner has amassed 24 Billboard Hot 100 singles over her stellar career. She is also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1994).
A few items of Simon trivia…• She attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY.• She is the daughter of Richard Simon, co-founder of the publishing house Simon & Schuster.• She submitted a demo tape to Clive Davis at Columbia Records, who turned her down. She ended up signing with Elektra.• She earned a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1971.• She lived with James Taylor in the house that was later owned and made infamous by O.J. Simpson. Simon and Taylor were married from 1972 to 1983.
Please enjoy the official video of Carly Simon singing “Like a River.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…
“Like a River”Written and performed by Carly Simon.
Dear mother the struggle is over nowAnd your house is up for saleWe divided your railroad watchesAmong the four of us
I fought over the pearlsWith the other girlsBut it was all a metaphorFor what is wrong with us
As the room is emptying outYour face so young comes into viewAnd on the back porch is a well-worn stepAnd a pool of light you can walk into
I’ll wait no more for you like a daughter,That part of our life together is overBut I will wait for you, foreverLike a river…
Can you clear up the mystery of the Sphinx?Do you know any more about God?Are you dancing with Benjamin FranklinOn the face of the moon?
Have you reconciled with Dad?Does the rain still make you sad?Last night I swear I could feel youMoving through my room
And I thought you touched my feetI so wanted it to be trueIn my theater there is a stageAnd a footlight you can always step into…
In the river I know I will find the keyAnd your voice will rise like sprayIn the moment of knowingThe tide will wash away my doubts
‘Cause you’re already homeMaking it nice for when I comeLike the way I find my bed turned downComing in from a late night out.
Please keep reminding meOf what in my soul I know is trueCome in my boat, there’s a seat beside meAnd two or three stars that we can gaze into…
I’ll wait no more for you like a daughter,That part of our life together is overBut I will wait for you foreverLike a river…
Credits: Publicity photo of Carly Simon, Elektra, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons