Thursday, April 28

Anticipation (1971)

Late in the summer of 1971, Carly Simon recorded her second album, Anticipation, in London. It was there, at the gates to Queen Mary's Gardens in Regent's Park, that the album's iconic cover photograph was taken. The setting serves as an apt metaphor for the title, with the gate swinging open to allow us access to all that we anticipate. It also refers more directly to one of the songs on the album, "The Garden", providing an illustration for its first line: Come into the garden.... 




The photographer was once again her brother, Peter Simon, and there are some immediate similarities with the previous cover: the straight-at-the-camera gaze, the open stance, the vintage clothes, and the formal surroundings (here, suggested by the elaborate wrought iron of the gates). Yet her stance is even more imposing than before. She stands astride the gates - legs and arms spread - blocking the path and demanding the viewer's attention. She is a woman of stature and confidence, and the sexual dimension to her confidence is unmistakeable. There is no come-hither look, coyness or neediness about it. She is not trying to seduce us. She is simply comfortable letting the sun shine through her diaphanous skirt, and revealing the longest legs and the highest boots in show business.

The careful construction of this image is apparent when looking through other photographs from this same session. Also taken in Regent's Park and the adjoining Primrose Hill, they show her looking pensive in tight close-ups, or non-chalant, or - my own favourite - beaming at the camera as an elderly woman moves past her through these gates. The outtakes, in other words, lack the arresting drama and sun-warmed naturalness of the cover photograph.



Steve Harris, an Elektra executive, referred to Carly as "The Woman of the Seventies" when (decades later) he discussed this phase of her career. The image captures that idea perfectly, and it suits a collection of songs that reveals many different aspects of her musical persona. The title track confidently builds from a quiet opening to a belting chorus and a rousing, almost anthemic finale ("these are the good old days"), but other songs on the album include the reflective character study "Legend In Your Own Time", the romantically regretful "Three Days", the darkly introspective "Our First Day Together", and an invitation to an ethereal paradise in "The Garden".  In the playful "The Girl You Think You See", the singer promises her lover that she can be anything: a "queen", a "foul-mouthed marine" or even "Mary Magdelene". Each is within her ability and can be assumed at her own discretion. She offers a world of possibilities and, on the album's cover, it seems as though they all lay just beyond the gate and with this one woman.

2 comments:

  1. My favorite of her albums covers for alll the reasons you stated. Also, thee original album cover had a metallic sheen to it which made it stand out. This photo brings to mind a couplet from "Shake Rattle & Roll":

    You're wearing those dresses and the sun comes shining through. I can't believe my eyes, all of that belongs to you!

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  2. She was beyond a dream for many young men my age(20)at that time. That photo was Peter Simon's masterpiece! When I picked it up and the listened to it over and over...I knew I was in LOVE! Nobody did it better for me!!

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