Thursday, February 17, 2022

Top 40 Entry 1/1/72: Carly Simon - "Anticipation"

Carly Simon — “Anticipation” (#13). Elektra 45759. Top 40 debut: 1/1/72. Peak date: 2/12/72. Written by Carly Simon. Produced by Paul Samwell-Smith. B-side: “The Garden.” LP: Anticipation. Charts: Billboard Hot 100 (#13), Easy Listening (#3).

Carly Simon’s debut single (“That’s the Way I Always Heard It Should Be, #10 in 1971), a quiet ballad with a big, Bacharach-style chorus, broke new ground for pop songs by looking at relationships from a psychoanalytical perspective. Fittingly, its sophisticated musical roadmap also offered rewards to those listeners with grown-up attention spans. The record practically demanded, on its own, the creation of a radio format to be known as “adult contemporary." Simon’s next single, “Anticipation,” which led off her second album, gave it its title, and did almost as well, peaking at #13. It followed the lead of "That's the Way" by reinforcing her reputation as pop music’s star reporter in the trenches of modern romance. She had lots of material, and you can read about it in her Boys in the Trees (2015) memoir.

Here’s one tidbit: “Anticipation” came from a date night with Cat Stevens, with whom she’d often shared the stage and also a producer in former Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith. She had cooked dinner, but because the Teaser and the Firecat album icon took his time getting there, she at least got a song written while she waited. Such a well-crafted result, which became one of the quintessential radio hits for the singer-songwriter era, says as much about her creative skills as it does about right place/right time factors. (Stevens would sing background vocals on the album’s “Julie Through the Glass.”) The radio heyday of “Anticipation” coincided with Simon winning the Best New Artist Grammy for 1971, a ceremony that also handed Carole King the Record of the Year (“It’s Too Late”) and Song of the Year (“You’ve Got a Friend”). A golden age for women singer songwriters was evidently underway.

“Anticipation,” though—and this is not in Simon’s memoir—would become best known as a Heinz ketchup TV commercial theme from 1973 well into the eighties. In the present day, hit songs rent themselves out for commercial usage as standard practice. In the sixties and seventies, it tended to go the other way around, with popular commercial themes turning into jingle singles for radio. Simon’s record, then, anticipated a whole new era in pop music marketing.

The only other single from the Anticipation album, “Legend in Your Own Time,” missed the Top 40, peaking at #50. That song was almost universally understood, especially in light of her next big hit “You’re So Vain,” as a takedown of some male subject in a “legend in your own mind” kind of way. Her memoir, though, makes clear that she wrote it, with tenderness to boot, about future husband James Taylor, whom she had met when they were much younger and whose mother, apparently, didn’t have a music career in mind for her boy. He would become a legend, then, according to his own timetable.

Side A: "Anticipation"

Side B: "The Garden"

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