Friday, February 18, 2011

The Trifecta of Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell & Carole King - Thoughts On Casting

 Carly Simon... one of the 'girls' in Wellers' book

Over the past two years I've become friends with the incomparable Sheila Weller, which has been a joy since I adore her magnificent joint biography of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, 'Girls Like Us'. I read it a couple of years ago and can't remember how we started to interact at the time. I think I wrote a note somewhere about the book. She must have sensed my genuine appreciation because she reached out to thank me for it. At some point we were emailing one another. Later, I posted a review of her book on Amazon and highly recommended it. Sheila was very kind to offer to send me a signed copy of her book and I'm happy to house two of them on my bookshelf. My Amazon review (the only review I've ever posted there) for 'Girls Like Us' from October 21, 2009 reads:

"The only trouble with this book is that it ends. It is so hard to put it down. If you have any interest in music and culture in the late 60's and 70's, you would know something about the women featured in this great comparative story. But there is so much to Weller's book that is new, and it is an admirably researched and presented piece. The backgrounds and personalities of these three women - Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon - are so different, yet their lives intertwined incessantly when they became musicians. Each one has many surprising aspects to her life I personally would not have known about if it weren't for this in-depth read. All three are equally compelling and inspiring. And in each of these women you may find some part of yourself or some idea of how you might have felt during those turbulent and groundbreaking years - in terms of music, culture and particularly the women's movement. It's absolutely transporting and transfixing. I love comparative analyses and the people of that period - so I absolutely loved this book! The problem I'm having now is moving on and finding another book I like as much as this one. Highly recommended."

That was my heartfelt recommendation and still is... I love this book.
My personal favorite one of the three 'girls' is Carly because I somehow relate to her the most, but I did go through a Joni phase during and after college. My first Joni album was 'Court & Spark' and it's still my favorite, as by that then she was dabbling in jazz and I sense that she had come into her own and had a certain confidence. Carole is amazing and I sometimes feel in a 'Tapestry' mood. But it's Carly who I can grasp the most for her experiences - and for her sensitive but expressive qualities. 

Going into it, I knew a great deal about each of them -- not least of all because each one had her deep relationship with James Taylor, one of my lifelong musical heroes (Carole partnered musically, Joni as the girlfriend and of course, Carly, the wife and mother to his children.) I had already read two biographies on Taylor and have enjoyed his entire catalogue of music. It was so great to be able to peel the layers of these three incredible women at such turbulent moments in their lives, their careers -- and in society as a whole -- via Sheila's book.
Joni Mitchell
Carole King
I have since been in touch with Ms. Weller and when I heard that this very rich story will be adapted for screen (by John Sayles) I was so excited. Like many who love this talented trifecta, I thought instantly at how challenging but fun it will be cast those incredible ladies -- but who, indeed, could even carry such raw characters as these? Especially in a time when performers tend to be unnatural, formulaic and calculated? For fun, and as an exercise since I could be casting for my projects someday soon, I spent about a week writing lists and making notes on possible contenders. I chose a final three and made a video of my thoughts on casting for Carole, Joni and Carly and even shared it with Sheila. The casting process has not begun, but it was a pleasure for me to be able to share my findings with the writer who made them so vivid for me in the pages of her book. 

I'll take this one out with one of my favorite videos, Carly and James singing 'You Can Close Your Eyes' together. This moment in their lives shows how profoundly in love Carly was with JT. The memory of the love they once had for one another still lives on. 

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