Carly Simon turns 68 today, the kind of thing that only makes one feel rather elderly oneself.
As we do with so many figures of her era (roughly the early '70s to mid-'80s), we rather take her and her work for granted these days, I think. That's a shame, for she's an estimable figure in American music: an idiosyncratic singer both of her own songs and a surprisingly convincing performer of standards, as well as a supple and thoughtful songwriter, one whose works, whether on her own early albums or as fodder for glossy films (from Bond to Melanie Griffith to worse) have an underlying air, quizzical and melancholy, that sets them apart (her theme to the Nora Ephron/Meryl Streep Heartburn, "Coming Around Again," can frequently make me weep).
Here the Austin, Texas chorale Conspirare takes on "Let the River Run," which always seemed a little grave and majestic as the theme for Working Girl, but which in this setting displays its creator's affinities to other writers for the American voice. In it I hear echoes of Copland and Menotti, and in its lyric a hint of Bernstein in the genial grandiosity of the idea of Manhattan (read: all of us) as a new Jerusalem.
Once upon a time I knew someone who kept a little sailboat moored off the Upper West Side, and I can tell you this song (in its original version) makes a great number to play at top volume while whizzing across New York harbor while enjoying a nice glass of Champagne or three.
So happy birthday to one who always seems to be coming around again, of whom it can be said that, if it's not quite so that nobody does it better, at least one can aver with confidence that few do it so well.