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#RSFlashback: 35 Years Ago, Carly Simon Hit Big Again with ‘Coming Around Again’

#RSFlashback: 35 Years Ago, Carly Simon Hit Big Again with ‘Coming Around Again’

Amit Vaidya Jan 27, 2022

Carly Simon in the cover art for 'Coming Around Again'

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Carly Simon was already a huge star in 1987. She had ruled the airwaves all through the Seventies thanks to worldwide hits like “You’re So Vain” and “Nobody Does It Better,” the 1977 Bond film theme song for The Spy Who Loved Me. But as the Eighties brought on a new generation of female stars, the music video and a far more glamorous and pop sound, Simon found herself experiencing declining album sales and starving for a hit.

While her collaboration in 1982 with Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic “Why” from the film Soup For One proved to be a Top 10 hit in the U.K., it stalled in the United States. Over the years, the song has developed a bit of a cult following and been samples by artists as diverse as A Tribe Called Quest, M.I.A. and Lion Babe. It was clear Simon was being pushed to continue having relevancy but her musical choices seemed odd and while the song was appreciated, it didn’t feel like the singer-songwriter Simon was actually most acclaimed for in her heyday.

Simon’s songs were featured in numerous films during the Eighties, including 1982’s Love Child and 1986’s The Karate Kid II. That same year, she also penned and released what would become her true pop comeback single “Coming Around Again.” The song was featured in the Jack Nicholson-Meryl Streep film Heartburn and then would become the title of Simon’s next album released in 1987.

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What made the film version of the song particularly interesting was the fact that the original song’s stripped-down arrangement was used in the second half of the song, a cover of the children’s classic “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” It was perhaps one of the strangest moments but also arguably one of the most brilliant moments in pop history, an original song and a children’s classic coming together. Keep in mind this is decades before Jay-Z sampled “Annie” for “Hard Knock Life” or Ariana Grande took “The Sound Of Music” as inspiration for “7 Rings.”

The song was split up for Simon’s album and “Coming Around Again” was released as its own single. The song shot up the charts and became a Top 20 hit in January 1987 in the United States and would reach the Top 10 in the U.K. in February 1987. Beyond those two nations, the song become a huge hit across the globe, marking a return to form for Simon who had been noticeably struggling to find her niche in the new pop world order.

Later in 1987, Simon recorded a live version of the single “Coming Around Again/Itsy Bitsy Spider” for a live special from Martha’s Vineyard. Only those who had listened to the Heartburn soundtrack knew the two songs were combined together as such. Simon’s 1987 album actually featured “Itsy Bitsy Spider” on its own song. Of course, listening to the same production but only a different key, it was clear the two songs belonged together.

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1987 proved to be an amazing year for Simon, who enjoyed a career Renaissance and it felt like without “Coming Around Again,” perhaps Simon may not have then written her next song for a film, “Let The River Run”, the theme from Working Girl. Simon would end up winning a Grammy, Golden Globe and Oscar for the song in 1989 – the first time a song composed and written, as well as performed, entirely by a single artist won all three awards.

While Simon is often rightly most appreciated for her work in the Seventies, it’s unfair to exclude her work in the Eighties and in particular her work in so many films. “Coming Around Again/Itsy Bitsy Spider” has thankfully stood the test of time. Simon boldly combined two sounds and two worlds together when the two songs were paired in a beautifully nostalgic way. In many ways, it preluded Martika’s “Toy Soldiers” in 1989 and Michael Jackson’s “Heal The World” in 1991, which both became huge global hits too. While it’s highly unlikely a straight delivery of a song with a children’s chorus would become a big pop hit today, never say never thanks to Simon.

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