Music Friday: Carly Simon Fights With Her Sisters Over Mom’s Pearls in the Deeply Personal ‘Like a River’

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.

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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, “We divided your railway watches / Between the four of us / I fought over the pearls / With the other girls / But it was all a metaphor / For what was wrong with us.”

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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 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, celebrated her 70th birthday in June. The Bronx-born, two-time Grammy winner has amassed 24 Billboard Hot 100 singles over her stellar career.

A few items of Simon trivia…
• She attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y.
• 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 she ended up signing with Elektra.
• She earned a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1971.
• She lived with James Taylor in the house 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 now
And your house is up for sale
We divided your railway watches
Between the four of us
I fought over the pearls
With the other girls
But it was all a metaphor
For what was wrong with us
As the room is emptying out
Your face so young comes into view
And on the back porch is a well-worn step
And 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 over
But I will wait for you, forever
Like a river…

Can you clear up the mystery of the Sphinx?
Do you know any more about God?
Are you dancing with Benjamin Franklin
On the face of the moon?
Have you reconciled with Dad?
Does the rain still make you sad?
Last night I swear I could feel you
Moving through my room
And I thought you touched my feet
I so wanted it to be true
In my theater there is a stage
And a footlight you can step into…

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…

In the river I know I will find the key
And your voice will rise like the spray
In the moment of knowing
The tide will wash away my doubt
‘Cause you’re already home
Making it nice for when I come home
Like the way I find my bed turned down
Coming in from a late night out.
Please keep reminding me
Of what in my soul I know is true

Come in my boat, there’s a seat beside me
And two or three stars we can gaze into…

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…

I’ll never leave, always just a dream away
A star that’s always watching
Never turn away
We’ll never leave, always just a thought away
A candle always burning
Never turn away
The moon will hide, the tree will bend
I’m right beside you
I’ll never turn away

Images: Screen captures via YouTube.

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