carly-simon-playing-possum-1977_gallery_popup.jpg

This is the first in our series of five seminal album covers by female artists

Carly Simon lead the life of 70′s dreams. The daughter of Richard L. Simon, a cultural mogul and musician, and Andrea Simon, a civil rights activist and singer, she had the perfect lineage to take a leading part in an era of progression and creative explosion.

She dated Cat Stevens, Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger and Kris Kristofferson before marrying James Taylor, another successful singer-songwriter. In fact so prolific was her list of famous and egocentric ex-boyfriends that it still remains a mystery who she wrote “You’re So Vain” about.

As a multi-award winning chart topper, she was a part of the early 70′s group of important female singer-songwriters that included Carole King and Joni Mitchell.

1975′s Playing Possum was a commercial disappointment and the album that put an end her chart domination. Today it also doubles as one of the most important record covers of all time and a great example of the power of a talented photographer and a brave subject.

Simon’s previous covers had been forgettable, showcasing her good looks and natural appeal in unremarkable settings.

album-no-secrets.jpg

carly_simon_-_hotcakes.jpg

No one expected that one year after Hotcakes the happily-married mother of one would reappear in nothing but negligee, fuck-me boots and a pair of stockings. Oh – and in a rather suggestive pose that brings to mind fellatio.

As it happens, neither did she. Simon arrived at the studio of legendary photographer Norman Seeff wearing an outfit that was consistent with her previous image. As she tells it, after a couple of glasses of wines, “Norman said: ‘Well don’t you have something on under that?”

It all sounds a little creepy – like the beginning of a bad (or possibly really excellent) porno. But keep in mind that this was one of the world’s most famous pop stars: there was no imbalance of power. In the resulting shoot Simon got “caught in the moment. I was dancing, I was all over the place… I was being Martha Graham.”

possum_shoot_v1.jpg

A transformation from squeaky clean singer to uber-sexualised vixen has become a cliche for many female (and indeed male) pop stars. A couple of raunchy shoots and some suggestive lyrics and you’ve graduated to an “edgy, adult artist.” In 1975 it was something else entirely.

With the cover of Playing Possum, the personally contented Simon embraced her sensuality and gave expression to a key part of herself.

There was no stylist on hand or rack of lingerie to choose from, she simply peeled off a layer and let go. While the front cover’s clenched fists speak of power and containment, the back cover is an equally telling image. Her smile and joy seem far more natural than the previous covers.

carly_simon_playing_possum1.jpg

Carly Simon: Playing Possum

carly-simon-playing-possum-1977_gallery_popup.jpg

This is the first in our series of five seminal album covers by female artists

Carly Simon lead the life of 70′s dreams. The daughter of Richard L. Simon, a cultural mogul and musician, and Andrea Simon, a civil rights activist and singer, she had the perfect lineage to take a leading part in an era of progression and creative explosion.

She dated Cat Stevens, Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger and Kris Kristofferson before marrying James Taylor, another successful singer-songwriter. In fact so prolific was her list of famous and egocentric ex-boyfriends that it still remains a mystery who she wrote “You’re So Vain” about.

As a multi-award winning chart topper, she was a part of the early 70′s group of important female singer-songwriters that included Carole King and Joni Mitchell.

1975′s Playing Possum was a commercial disappointment and the album that put an end her chart domination. Today it also doubles as one of the most important record covers of all time and a great example of the power of a talented photographer and a brave subject.

Simon’s previous covers had been forgettable, showcasing her good looks and natural appeal in unremarkable settings.

album-no-secrets.jpg

carly_simon_-_hotcakes.jpg

No one expected that one year after Hotcakes the happily-married mother of one would reappear in nothing but negligee, fuck-me boots and a pair of stockings. Oh – and in a rather suggestive pose that brings to mind fellatio.

As it happens, neither did she. Simon arrived at the studio of legendary photographer Norman Seeff wearing an outfit that was consistent with her previous image. As she tells it, after a couple of glasses of wines, “Norman said: ‘Well don’t you have something on under that?”

It all sounds a little creepy – like the beginning of a bad (or possibly really excellent) porno. But keep in mind that this was one of the world’s most famous pop stars: there was no imbalance of power. In the resulting shoot Simon got “caught in the moment. I was dancing, I was all over the place… I was being Martha Graham.”

possum_shoot_v1.jpg

A transformation from squeaky clean singer to uber-sexualised vixen has become a cliche for many female (and indeed male) pop stars. A couple of raunchy shoots and some suggestive lyrics and you’ve graduated to an “edgy, adult artist.” In 1975 it was something else entirely.

With the cover of Playing Possum, the personally contented Simon embraced her sensuality and gave expression to a key part of herself.

There was no stylist on hand or rack of lingerie to choose from, she simply peeled off a layer and let go. While the front cover’s clenched fists speak of power and containment, the back cover is an equally telling image. Her smile and joy seem far more natural than the previous covers.

carly_simon_playing_possum1.jpg





14 Comments

  1. Wow, what an amazing cover, front and back. I'm a bit surprised I've never seen it before, can't wait to see what else you'll be posting up.

  2. What a fantastic blog entry! Thank you!
    However Ms. Simon's NO SECRETS cover was, at the time, a notoriously famous album cover. Tame by today's standards for sure–but not for 1972!

  3. Shawiiiing!

    I never noticed the clenched fists before.

  4. An aside to a great tale; Years back Carly related that the black nightgown she wore in this photo shoot had been unwittingly shoplifted by her then-infant daughter Sally. Don't know if this is true or part of the myth….

  5. my!! – this record is part of my parents collection – and of my musical upbringing!
    it is so bizarre to find it here, analysed and commented..
    and so many memories coming up..
    but 'tis a great article, indeed.
    just discovered your site and think i'm gonna send the link to all my music-fan friends.

    thank you, great job

  6. my!! – this record is part of my parents collection – and of my musical upbringing!
    it is so bizarre to find it here, analysed and commented..
    and so many memories coming up..
    but 'tis a great article, indeed.
    just discovered your site and think i'm gonna send the link to all my music-fan friends.

    thank you, great job

  7. I'm fapping to this cover right now

  8. I'm fapping to this cover right now

  9. Emphasis on the word “seminal” too

  10. Emphasis on the word “seminal” too

  11. Hhe article's content rich variety which make us move for our mood after reading this article. surprise, here you will find what you want! Recently, I found some wedsites which commodity is colorful of fashion. Such as mbt outlet store that worth you to see. Believe me these websites won’t let you down.

  12. It was recently revealed that David Geffen is the one who was so vain.

  13. Carly Simon has revealed 3 clues as to the identity of the subject of
    “Your So Vain”. The person in the song has the letters “E”, “A” &
    “R” in their name. That sort of leaves David Geffon out of contention. But not Cat Stevens, Warren Beatty & Mick Jagger. and it isn’t James Taylor, as she didn’t know him when the song was written.

    I myself think it’s…

  14. This is Norman Seeff Productions – the company of the photographer who took the Playing Possum shots. Thanks for your comments about Norman’s image. It was a great shoot with an amazing artists.

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