Call Carly Simon a romantic.
Her new album “Moonlight Serenade” (Columbia), due July 19 as a DualDisc, is a collection of standards penned by Cole Porter, George & Ira Gershwin, Glenn Miller, Rodgers & Hart and other great songwriters.
Simon considers new interpretations of time-honored songs to be a vital aspect of her career. She has recorded three other standards albums — 1981’s “Torch” (Warner Bros.), 1990’s “My Romance” (Arista) and 1997’s “Film Noir” (Arista). “Film Noir” is her top-selling standards project, moving 200,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
“I’ve always been a singer as well as a singer/songwriter, so in a way I wear two hats,” Simon says. “An awful lot of singers have plied their trade in this milieu. I think that there’s a hip value to it in that the younger generation thinks it’s hip to like these songs. The older generation will have a nostalgic feel about them.”
“Moonlight Serenade” — her first album for Columbia — features big band-style renditions of such songs as “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “I Only Have Eyes (For You)” and “In the Still of the Night.” The recording reunited her with producer Richard Perry. The pair created a number of Simon’s 1970s pop hits, including “You’re So Vain.”
“He and I picked all of the songs specifically for what would be well-adapted to the girl as the singer in the band as opposed to the lead who is backed up by the orchestra,” Simon says. “I had to restrain myself when I wanted to do rock’n’roll licks and be very careful not to take attention away from the horn players. It was refreshing to me to sing them kind of straight.”
The DualDisc extras include a documentary about the making of the album.
Will Botwin, chairman of Columbia Records Group, says that the company made a deal for this album after meeting with Simon during its recording.
“We would love to think that there will be other projects with her down the line,” Botwin says. “We’ve long admired her and felt she was a classic artist who should be on a classic label. We might do another volume of a similar type of record if the reaction is what we are hoping for.”
The sales prospects for “Moonlight Serenade” are high, particularly because of a renewed interest in standards and the success such artists as Rod Stewart are having with the genre.
Stewart’s “It Had to Be You … The Great American Songbook” (J Records, 2002) has sold 2.9 million units in the United States, and is the artist’s second-biggest seller. Successive “Songbook” volumes have sold a combined 3.9 million units.
“I think it will be a pretty wide demographic that should be interested in this,” Botwin notes. “[Simon’s] fan base from over the years and people that haven’t been Carly buyers will come together because it’s a very beautiful, romantic record.”
Simon will appear on “Good Morning America” July 20, “The View” July 22 and “CBS This Morning” July 27.
Columbia also anticipates the recording of a “Moonlight Serenade”-themed concert that may air on PBS and ultimately lead to a DVD. It is uncertain whether Simon will tour, but it is expected that she will play some dates supporting the album.
Excerpted from the July 16, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to Billboard.com subscribers.
For information about ordering a copy of the issue, click here.