Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh? — Job 19:22
Most rock writers, it has been observed, would rather be the people they write about; that is, trade in their typewriters to scream nonsense at 20,000 rioting ‘lude freaks while Keith Richard powerchords their brains into Cool Whip. Not me. I don’t want to be Mick Jagger. Nor do I want to be Carly Simon and have millions of college students think dirty thoughts about my album covers. I don’t even want to be James Taylor, who is married to Carly Simon.
I would trade it all to be Benjamin Taylor. Here is someone with a good deal in life: all Benjamin Taylor has to do is cry and Carly Simon sticks her breast in his mouth. The other 4 billion of us on earth could cry for the rest of our lives and Carly Simon would not stick her breast in our mouths. Greater injustices have marred human history, I suppose, but I can’t think of them right now, because Carly Simon has just placed her breast in Benjamin Taylor’s mouth. He is having a good time. I am breaking into a cold sweat, wondering if it is obvious from ten feet away that my eyes are dropping from Carly Simon’s face to her uplifted blouse every three seconds.
“This is beginning to look obscene,” says Carly Simon in the living room of her huge ten-room Central Park West apartment. Benjamin, a cuter-than-hell miniature of James Taylor, is gymnastically curled around his dinner, which he is clutching with both hands and both feet, as well as his mouth. “He’s fourteen months old now, and everybody keeps giving me advice on what to do. He’s very strong-willed. He even sleeps with James and me. We visited Dr. Lee Salk, the famous child psychologist, and I expected him to say, ‘You naughty woman!’ for spoiling him so much, but he said, ‘Wonderful! Wait until he’s verbal and you can reason him out of it.’ Then we’re supposed to be rewarded with a”— she breaks into a snooty ruling-class accent for humor — “perfectly splendid human being. Until then, it’s him or me. Ben is a very secure child. He is also a very hungry child.”
“He sleeps in the same bed with you?” I ask as Ben continues to prove his mother’s veracity with his voracity. “Doesn’t James get jealous?”
“I would say that Ben interferes with our life,” she says, measuring her words. “It’s hard to work around the boy. The important thing is to maintain your sense of humor. There are times James and I just sit back and laugh about how unfit we are to be parents.”
Hear me, all you leering sinners who picked this filthy rag off the newsstands because of the licentious cover picture: reform your evil ways. That’s it for the veiled references and cheap thrills. You want more, you go buy some magazine that’s sold in a plastic bag. This article is crawling out of the gutter right now.
“I had a dream about Linda McCartney last night,” she continues. “I went up to kiss her hello and she pushed me away and she said, ‘You mustn’t kiss anyone.’ I felt terrible and asked her why. She answered, ‘Don’t you know that’s the way everything is spread?'”
“You and Linda don’t get along?”
“No, no,” she says. “We’re good friends. I know exactly what the dream meant: Ben has a sleep disorder. He wakes up every forty-five minutes at night. I’ve been exhausted for fourteen months. Linda once told me she never had any sleep problems with her kids after they were weaned. She said she just turned out the light, closed the bedroom door on them and left them there no matter how much they cried or what they did. I thought that sounded very cold, but now I think it’s not. They get used to it, and you finally get some sleep.”
“Maybe a little household trauma is a good thing,” I suggest. “A lot of critics have written that Paul McCartney’s music has suffered from too much domestic bliss.”
“I’ve heard that logic many times and I disagree,” she says. “Domesticity can lead to complacency, but it doesn’t have to. What does you in is not being honest about the problems in your marriage. My relationships with other people have always been the most important thing in my life. Most of my songs are about my relationship with James, so much so that sometimes I’m hesitant to reveal them to the public. People try to puzzle our lives together from the lyrics, like a soap opera, but I don’t give a damn. I do try to change the extraneous circumstances a bit, so they won’t look like an exposé.”