Mates’ Crates, a series headed up by our friend Andrei Sandu, dives into the tales behind records and digs deeper into our connections to music. A personal pop favourite this time with Carly Simon’s “Melt My Heart”.
Label: Elektra | Year: 1978 | Discogs: Carly Simon – Tranquillo (Melt My Heart)
Over the summer, alongside many of the lovely people behind OOX, I started up a new party called “Melt My Heart”. With full credit to the wonderful Felix Thomson, I love the name of our events almost as much as the party itself. So it felt right to dig into the story behind its inspiration, Carly Simon’s “Tranquillo”.
Born in 1943, Simon began performing at the age of 20 with her sister Lucy as the Simon Sisters, before pursuing a solo career in the early seventies. Her debut album won the Best New Artist Grammy, and she went on to produce at least an album every two years for the next two decades.
Surprisingly, her only Number 1 single was “You’re So Vain” – probably my first encounter of her music – which she later donated to an anti-Trump political advert.
The same year of its release, Simon married best-selling singer-songwriter James Taylor, best known for his covers of Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend” and Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You”. The pair wrote and sang together until their divorce in 1983.
Simon’s 1977 single “Nobody Does It Better” (from The Spy Who Loved Me) is ranked amongst the greatest Bond themes, and her 1982 hit “Why” was also recorded for a film. Written by Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, the whole soundtrack of the 1982 comedy Soup for One is excellent. Chic’s title track is the sample behind Modjo’s “Lady”, and Fonzi Thornton’s “I Work For A Livin’” is also great.
“Tranquillo (Melt My Heart)” was released in 1978, off her album “Boys In The Trees” (also the title of her memoir). Whilst another single from the album was nominated for the female vocal Grammy, the record in fact won Best Album Package for its cover art – a topless photo expertly airbrushed to paint on clothes.
Alongside Simon and James Taylor, “Tranquillo” was written by seminal Turkish-American producer Arif Mardin. Born in Istanbul into a renowned family of statesmen and diplomats, Mardin grew up listening to the likes of Bing Crosby and Glenn Miller but never intended to pursue a career in music when he studied at the London School of Economics.
After meeting American jazz icons Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones at a concert in Ankara in 1956, Mardin shared some of his demo compositions and was soon the first recipient of the Quincy Jones Scholarship at the Berklee College of Music. He went on to write and produce for an awe-inspiring list of musicians, most notably shaping the falsetto sound of the Bee Gees which rejuvenated the band’s career.
Like most of Simon’s discography, “Tranquillo” is a truly fantastic pop record, but this one is particularly special to me. Whilst she may not (yet) be experiencing the kind of revival enjoyed by the likes of Kate Bush, her influence on contemporary pop cannot be underestimated, with the likes of Carly Rae Jepson and Taylor Swift citing Simon as a key influence.
Let’s make “Tranquillo” the new “Running Up That Hill”. Get streaming.