Carly Simon, whose memoir Boys In The Trees, was a critically acclaimed bestseller and, in many ways, a paragon of midlife female honesty, has a second memoir coming out in October by Farrar Straus and Giroux. Touched By The Sun is an intimate, tasteful, and, as the press release puts it, “vulnerable” account of her friendship with the late Jackie Kennedy Onassis, whose death inspired the lovely song that Carly is also using as the title of the book.
Carly had an aunt-like role to Jackie’s son—John Kennedy Jr.
Some people on social media have, if not scoffed at Carly’s writing the memoir, then at least questioned whether it was family “sanctioned.” Jackie Kennedy Onassis does provoke such protective and awe-struck feelings in Americans, even decades after her death.
But Carly—a woman of great taste, wit, and honesty—had a real-deal friendship with the woman known as America’s First Lady. Plus, she had an aunt-like role to Jackie’s son—John Kennedy Jr. (She took him to a Rolling Stones concert to get him over his funk about failing the New York bar exam for the second time. Nice Aunt.)
Here, from Next Tribe contributing writer Sheila Weller’s book Girls Like Us, on Carly—and Carole King and Joni Mitchell—is an anecdote that shows Carly’s closeness to Jackie, as well as her “aunt”-like role with Jackie’s son, the late John Kennedy Junior.
Personally, we cannot wait for Carly’s new memoir!
Carly and Jackie (Who Knew Jackie Was Such A Prankster?)
Sometime in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, as an editor at Doubleday, approached Carly to write a memoir. Carly hesitated (and eventually turned the offer down), feeling that her saga with James should best be left as the grist for endless, angst-filled friend-talk, not public disclosure; but a connection flourished.
In Carly, Jackie saw someone “who was uninhibited and free-spirited, like she had been when she was running around Washington as a single girl with a camera and taking all those exotic trips and writing those diaries,” says their mutual friend Joe Armstrong. “Because of the life she had, Jackie had to be so controlled; she was only thirty-four when her husband’s brains were blown out while she sat next to him. But Carly got to stay that way. She was the most open, honest, colorful whirlwind of energy.” In Carly, the former First Lady glimpsed the person she “couldn’t be anymore.”
In Carly, the former First Lady glimpsed the person she couldn’t be anymore.
Carly sang at Caroline Kennedy’s July 1986 marriage to Edwin Schlossberg, doing a rendition of the Dixie Cup’s “Chapel of Love” and her own first song for James, “Loving You’s The Right Thing to Do.” At the wedding party, the mother of the bride—seemingly one of the most untouchable women in America—
cheerfully used the same Porto-San as the band members. Jackie gossiped like a schoolgirl with Carly about men and love and conquests. (And politics: John Kerry would be thrilled to know that, Carly says, during his years as a Massachusetts senator, “Jackie loved him and always remarked on the fact that he had the same initials as JFK.”).
And the elegant, whisper-voiced doyenne was no slouch in the practical-jokes department. One time Carly and Jackie went backstage after a Placido Domingo concert, and Domingo flirted profligately with Carly, as was his wont. The next day a messenger arrived at Carly’s door with a gift-wrapped framed photo of Domingo, autographed, “My darling Carly, I will adore you forever.” Beside herself with surprise and glee, Carly called Mike Nichols, and [Carly’s sisters] Lucy and Joey, and gloated about the memento. Then she called Jackie and said, “Can you imagine? He sent this to me! I think he’s in love with me.” Jackie roared with laughter, and confessed, “I signed and sent that picture to you.”
We can’t wait to read more about these great pals and get a different look into the life of an American icon.