Carly Simon Carly Simon

She's chronicled her romantic angst in song since the '70s, but Carly Simon has always left a piece of her heart in the '30s and '40s. As proof, the 60-year-old singer and songwriter is releasing her fourth CD of standards, Moonlight Serenade, on July 19. We visited the Oscar and Grammy winner at her Greenwich Village duplex in a historic town house.

TV Guide: Moonlight Serenade has a very intimate, mellow feel.
Carly Simon:
Our intention was an album that you could make out to. [Laughs]

TV Guide: You actually knew some legendary composers.
Yes. Arthur Schwartz ("Dancing in the Dark") was my parents' [Simon & Schuster publisher Richard Simon and his wife Andrea] best friend. Oscar Hammerstein was a close friend of theirs, too. I have a personal feeling about these songs.

TV Guide: Can you feel as passionate about these songs as you do about your own?
There's more of a separation when I'm singing standards, though I do get emotionally involved with them. When I'm singing my own songs, it can get so intertwined, I have to stop sometimes because I cry.

TV Guide: To promote Moonlight Serenade, you'll be performing on a number of TV shows. What about your fabled stage fright?
I think I've changed. I'm not going to empower that negativity anymore.

TV Guide: Would you consider a small tour?
Yes, but I would never be on tour for a long time, because I love my home too much. This is a great pied-à-terre, but my home is in Martha's Vineyard. I'm so grounded there, it's like Tara to me. The kids [Ben and Sally, her children with her ex-husband James Taylor] each have their homes on the property.

TV Guide: Your son Ben had a recurring role on American Dreams. [Both he and Sally are singers and songwriters.] Does he want to act?
Ben was so cute in it! [She beams] He's a singer, but I'm sure if the right acting part came forward, he wouldn't ignore it.

TV Guide: You once told me that your ex-husband James Taylor was a terrific father.
He is a wonderful father. But I don't get to see him as a father. He's totally cut off from me, he doesn't want to be at all involved with me. There's a terrible chasm between us.

TV Guide: Why?
You'd have to ask him. The last time I saw him was at our daughter Sally's wedding [in 2003].

TV Guide: Are you and your current husband Jim Hart [she's been married to the poet since 1987] together these days? You were separated in the past.
Jim and I haven't really broken up. [She flashes a lovely gold wedding band.] We have an interesting and not at all conventional marriage. We are still deeply involved. I feel that it's a continuum. The hot sex and the lust [at the beginning of a relationship] is so great but then, if you're lucky, [there] is a recognition of devotion. You know, there isn't a relationship I've had that I regret.

TV Guide: You seem to be in a better place now than five years ago, when you made your last CD of new songs, The Bedroom Tapes.
I had a very bad experience [because her label didn't promote it]. I recorded it at my house in Martha's Vineyard at a very tender time in my life, and those songs were extremely personal. So I bought back the album and it will probably resurface.

TV Guide: What made it a tender period of your life?
I was undergoing chemotherapy [for breast cancer] and I had a very bad depression around that time, too.

TV Guide: Are you OK now?

TV Guide: Does writing music help you through the bad times?
It's the only thing that I can do to help myself. If you're a creator, that's how you express yourself and without it you become crazy. And sometimes I can't express myself. And I do become crazy.

TV Guide: Are you currently writing songs?
I'm in a phase where I have books and books of lyrics. Some of it is very raw, personal and edgy. I still want to be Leonard Cohen. I can't think of a song that is as good as his "Hallelujah."

TV Guide: You won an Oscar for "Let the River Run," which you wrote for 1988's Working Girl, and have written other film scores and songs through the years. Anything lately?
I [wrote songs for] all the recent Winnie the Pooh movies. I spent four years doing that. It was so great; there's no violence and such nice characters.

TV Guide: Your good friend Jackie Kennedy Onassis wanted you to write your autobiography.
I wrote 80 pages and I realized I didn't want to write about people who didn't want me to talk about them. I couldn't write about James — and I could write a whole book about James.

TV Guide: Which of your songs most says who you are?
"Like a River." I wrote it right after my mother died. It sums up my spiritual point of view — how I feel about death and how I feel about my mother, and daughters and mothers. "Boys in the Trees" is also an important song for me in an earlier period of my life.

TV Guide: NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol gave $50,000 to charity to have you tell him who the guy is in "You're So Vain." Why reveal that now?
Because it no longer seemed that important to me to keep it completely to myself. And I told him if he ever tells anybody I'd say that I lied to him.

TV Guide: We all know it's Warren Beatty — you even gave us the letters A, E and R.
It's so funny that people are still guessing. [Laughs]

Carly Simon performs on Good Morning America July 20 at 7 am/ET on ABC and on The View July 22 at 11 am/ET on ABC.