Earworm of the Week #2 – Carly Simon and “Let The River Run”

I have been banished to the office to “do some therapeutic blogging”, as I think I’m starting to drive Mr WIAA a little mad (in a nice way) with my whinging. When we acquired the holiday hideaway earlier this year to help pay my mum’s care home fees, I hadn’t reckoned on the sheer physicality of having so many changeovers to carry out in a relatively short space of time. My poor neck and shoulder still cries out in pain when I have to lift, push or carry anything with my right arm, and there will be no respite now until the end of September. I am bracing myself for the next seven weeks when we are to have a total of 18 changeovers, as most guests book for only two nights. I was an office wallah for 35 years, so however fit I thought I was, the shock to the system has been intense. Best foot forward though, and we’ll get through it, but just willing the season to now be over so that I can rejig my business model and yet again have a fully functional neck and shoulder.

As this is an imposed and not a planned session of blogging, the easiest song to write about would be the one that is currently spinning around in my head. I must have heard it on the radio the other day and when I woke up at 3am the other night, it was the first thing that came into my head and has barely left since. Let The River Run was a 1988 song written by Carly Simon for the film Working Girl and she swept the board with it when it came to awards season the following year winning a Grammy, an Oscar and a Golden Globe. It definitely has an anthemic quality to it – She apparently wanted to write a hymn to New York with a contemporary jungle beat under it, and it sounds as if she pretty much nailed it.

Let The River Run by Carly Simon:

Carly has appeared in this blog before, once when I wrote about the death of Roger Moore (she sang the theme to The Spy Who Loved Me) and again when I wrote a “moon-post” featuring the Glenn Miller song Moonlight Serenade (she recorded an album of standards and this was the title track). It occurred to me that she is one of those artists who has had great longevity in the industry yet quietly got on with business without ever becoming over-exposed or over-familiar.

I’m pretty sure that as I teenager I would have loved to look like Carly Simon – She had a great mane of hair, a natural tan and that rock ‘n’ roll kind of face as sported by some of her male counterparts. A handsome woman rather than a pretty one, which is always a good thing if you want to be taken seriously, and again, there was all that great hair. Being a Scottish person I rarely had a tan, have quite fine, straight hair and as for the rock ‘n’ roll face, not in my family genes I’m afraid but not jealous, honest!

carly
Carly Simon

The thing about earworms is that a particular line can keep repeating itself in your head and you don’t always know the name of the song it’s from, but in this case it was quite easy once I’d revisited Carly’s discography. I had seriously forgotten just how many albums she’d made and although not all her single releases became big hits in the UK, they do still get airplay so we are familiar with much of her output over the years. You’re So Vain of course (although we will probably never know for sure who it was about) but also Coming Around Again, Why, The Right Thing To Do and Mockingbird (with husband James Taylor), as well as the other songs mentioned above.

As for the film Working Girl, I remember well going to see it in 1988 and quite possibly had big permed hair at the time like Melanie Griffith, who played wannabe investment broker Tess McGill from Staten Island. She had worked hard, gone to night school and wanted the big job, but it turned out big hair and big jobs don’t go together, so a period of reinvention had to take place. All these years later I’m not sure if much has changed and it’s probably tougher than ever for women (and men) from what seems to be called disadvantaged backgrounds to climb the corporate ladder. Higher education is increasingly only for those whose parents can afford to help out with the cost, which is sad. In the late 70s, I unbelievably used to save some of my student grant, as I just didn’t need it all. Was this education wasted on me though, as I never did get what would be described as the big job but merely a pot-boiler job which was satisfactory but never stellar. Thinking back I definitely had big hair however, so perhaps I now see where I went wrong, unless you’re a rock star like Carly Simon of course where the bigger the hair the better.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have a lot of work to get through so I’d better buckle down and get on with it. The kind of hair I have no longer affects me a jot but I think I will listen to a little more Carly Simon in the course of the day and dream of holidays in her beloved Martha’s Vineyard.

Before I go I’m going to include a clip of her joining Taylor Swift in concert where they perform a version of You’re So Vain. Apparently Taylor has now been let into the secret of who the song is about – As for us, I doubt if we’ll ever really know.

Until next time….

Let The River Run Lyrics
(Song by Carly Simon)

We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
let all the dreamers
wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Silver cities rise,
the morning lights
the streets that meet them,
and sirens call them on
with a song.

It’s asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.

We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

We the great and small
stand on a star
and blaze a trail of desire
through the dark’ning dawn.

It’s asking for the taking.
Come run with me now,
the sky is the color of blue
you’ve never even seen
in the eyes of your lover.

Oh, my heart is aching.
We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

It’s asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.
We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
let all the dreamers
wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

13 thoughts on “Earworm of the Week #2 – Carly Simon and “Let The River Run””

    1. A rom-com, a rom-com!! I’ll have you know Working Girl had a ground-breaking plotline back in 1988 so needed a song with such gravitas! Just joking Chris, and I see your point, but still a fine song it having that anthemic quality. I honestly don’t think the term rom-com was even being used in 1988 and most films starring women at that time were psychological thrillers such as Fatal Attraction and Sleeping With The Enemy. The rom-com really came of age in the 1990s what with the works of Richard Curtis et al and then mushroomed over the next couple of decades.

      I have enjoyed rediscovering some of Carly’s discography though, as I had forgotten just how prolific she was from the early ’70s onward.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Speaking as a boy, when I saw the No Secrets album sleeve for the first time age 11, it wasn’t her bippity-boppity hat that caught my eye. And it still isn’t. God, am I allowed to even think that, let alone say it out loud? Too late.
    I’ll get my (grubby) coat. Again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was the picture of Carly I wanted to include here (the blue top and the bippity-boppity hat) but then I thought to myself, no, I might end up getting some unsavoury comments from my male readership – Well, so much for that plan! I can imagine that was a fine album sleeve for an 11 year-old boy though. Female undergarments in the 1970s were practically non-existent, like hankies, and not the cantilevered affairs we’re used to nowadays but this was just post-Woodstock, so different times. That grubby coat needs to stay in the cupboard, or you’ll get yourself into trouble!

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  2. Well, I read this post on Friday night but it’s taken me this long to get over the trauma of seeing Melanie Griffiths’ hair… Shocking stuff. I know we all fluffed up our hair in the ’80s but I’m sure yours wasn’t quite as extreme as her peculiar ‘two hairstyles in one’ look!

    As for Carly Simon and *that* No Secrets cover, I caught a clip of her on a documentary fairly recently and there was some discussion about it; if I remember rightly she said she wasn’t even aware of it or at the very least it was no big deal to her, she was just being her natural self, not trying to be obviously sexy. I’m thinking that just wouldn’t happen now…

    And as for you – so sorry to know that your neck and arm are still causing so much pain and that there’s no let-up for a while with the physical tasks you have to do for the change-overs. Any more exercises you could try? I was given one by physiotherapist which is to put my right arm behind my back and then try to stretch my hand up as high as I can (as if trying to scrub my back – for some reason easier to do that position with my left arm than my right) hold for 30 seconds and to do several times a day. It’s quite hard.uncomfortable but over time has definitely helped as it strengthens that shoulder/neck muscle so I’m noticing a difference at last – may be worth a try?

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    1. Yes indeed that was a truly awful hairdo and none of my 80s perms were quite as awful – Two hairstyles in one as you say with that funny halo at the top and the long bushy bit hanging down the back. Then again the point of the film (seems shallow now) was that she had to get rid of the big hair and adopt a more sophisticated look to be taken seriously, so I suppose they had to make the transition quite dramatic.

      How strange that we are even mentioning that album cover as I really don’t think it would have looked unusual back in the early ’70s and she was just naturally being herself. I’ve just had a discussion with Mr WIAA about it and we’ve decided that once T-shirt bras came on the market about 20 odd years ago, nearly everyone started wearing them, so Carly’s album cover would have looked a bit different if more recent. Nowadays if you do want to look overtly sexy, it is easy peasy (the Love Island girls seem to manage), but those of us who perhaps accidentally looked sexy back in the day, no longer would. Didn’t expect this to be a theme of the comments boxes!

      Look at us with our neck and shoulder pain – I was probably exaggerating a bit in my top paragraph as definitely not as bad as it was a couple of months ago, it’s just that like you, I keep having to do the thing that aggravates it so just when I think I’m on the mend, I have a massive pile of ironing for the holiday house and I’m back to square one (although Mr WIAA has taken over “king size” duties). Thanks for the tip re the exercise – Just tried it and you are right, much easier with the left hand but probably because our right arm/shoulder is proverbially knackered! Doing quite a few neck exercises all day long but that sounds like a good one – Roll on October when I plan to have a bit of a break. Haven’t done such physical work since I worked in hotels as a student, so had totally forgotten how tough it was.

      Thanks for dropping by as I know you’re busy – Have a question to ask on behalf of Mr WIAA when you have time. Got to try some new ventures and you might know “some people” – cryptic!

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  3. You have my sympathy, Alyson. My entire summer has been taken up by carrying heavy boxes / furniture (which has wrecked my knee) and taking apart / building furniture (which has wrecked my hands: wrists and thumbs in particular). Today I spent 7 hours building a cabin bed for Sam and it almost broke me. I’d say that I was looking forward to getting back to work next week, except I’m not – I’m dreading it. Still, what doesn’t kill you…

    Always loved that Carly Simon song, and many of her other offerings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear, you know how I feel then. We are both victims of not being used to hard physical labour and have suddenly given our bodies a nasty shock. On the upside, this must mean that the move to your new abode has now happened and that it’ll soon start to feel like home. Tough when it’s taken up your holiday though but would have been much worse happening during term time. As for me, the end of “the season” will come round and I’ll get a bit of a break and recharge the batteries. Feel as if I’m always whinging around here so good to hear someone else is having a bit of a whinge. New beginnings in the autumn hopefully when all these aches and pains (plus C’s aches and pains) are behind us.

      This Carly post hasn’t had much interest, but yes, I’ve enjoyed revisiting her back catalogue.

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  4. I sympathise with your aches and pains Alyson. By the end of a shift lugging bread and cakes around in the supermarket I’m sometimes barely able to bend my back until I’m home and under a hot shower. I can also relate to the earworm phenomenon too. If I get a verse, a chorus or even a line of a song lodged deeply enough in my brain early on in a shift, it can, infuriatingly, stay there for the next 8 hours. Believe it or not I’ve even got earworms for individual products. For instance, if I’m putting a box of angel cakes on the shelf, my brain will be singing ‘…angel cakes, cakes of an angel, angel cakes, cakes of an angel…’ to the tune of The Glitter Band’s ‘Angel Face’. It sounds funny, but it drives me up the wall!
    Take care of the neck and shoulder – have you tried doing some gentle stretches to loosen yourself up before a changeover?

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    1. I have a theory that in our heads we are still 25, so we take on physical jobs we used to find really easy but forget our current age. After sitting at a desk for 35 years, any fool should have known this would have been difficult, but it didn’t occur to me because I’ve always thought of myself as being quite fit and healthy. I have many, many exercises I do every day and it is gradually getting better, it’s just that I damaged something quite badly right at the beginning and it takes a long time to repair – C has given me some great exercises as she is currently suffering too. What are we all like!

      As for the earworm, I had another one last night which kept me awake half the night – Going to write about it next I think but it’s not by the G Band as they called themselves during the latter part of their career, possibly to distance themselves from the former Leader of the Pack.

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