Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--and the Journey of a Generation
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Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--and the Journey of a Generation

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  2,662 ratings  ·  608 reviews

A groundbreaking and irresistible biography of three of America's most important musical artists -- Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon -- charts their lives as women at a magical moment in time.

Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon remain among the most enduring and important women in popular music. Each woman is distinct. Carole King is the product of o...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Washington Square Press (first published January 1st 2008)
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Robert
Jun 02, 2008 Robert rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Robert by: New York Times. Boy were they wrong..
This book is so painful to read that I can't stand it. But I can never give up on a book after I have read more than 50 pages. The writing is dreadful. The '70s feminism is so tiresome. I bought it because I am interested in the music business of the '60s and 70s, but boy does this stink. Even if you are interested in Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and Carole King, the bad writing will drive you to your knees. And the book is huge, 592 pages. Stay away from this book. Save your money.
Katherine
Great material, problematic execution. Weller is an incredibly undisciplined writer, at least in this book. There's excess detail that seems to serve no purpose beyond showing off--endless anecdotes about minor, or even unrelated people, as if to show how hard the author worked and how much she found out, whether or not it actually informed her story.

And her sentence structure! Good lord, woman--INSERT A PERIOD EVERY NOW AND THEN. Because I was interested in the subject matter, I pushed through...more
Jim Marshall

Album covers featuring their young, pretty faces were stacked next to every stereo in every funky apartment that we inhabited from ’67 to ’75 or so. Along with the Mateus-wine candelabra, the day-glow Jimi Hendrix poster, and the not-so-discreetly-hidden roaches in ashtrays on low-rise tables, the music made by these young women—Carole King was 19 when she wrote her first big hit, Joni Mitchell 21—were part of what we carried when we moved. We scattered those album covers in plain sight and play...more
Sheila
Jun 16, 2008 Sheila rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: you
Try humming a Beatles song. Now try humming a Joni Mitchell song. With perhaps the exception of "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Both Sides Now," it's pretty hard, isn't it?

Having complex arrangments and open tunings doesn't make Joni Mitchell "better" than other musicians, but I think the fact that her songs are hard to hum is a strong testament to her mind-boggling talent with words and arrangements.

This book is centered around three women who came of age in the 60s and changed music: Joni, Carole King...more
Betsy
Jun 23, 2008 Betsy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: one and all
Joni got her start in Detroit - and dated James Taylor before he married Carly? Who knew? Carole King had her first child at 17? Mick Jagger sang back up on "You're so vain" (but the song is probably about Warren Beatty, who, by the by, begged a very pregnant Carole King to have sex with him...because he wanted to have a sex with a very pregnant woman. ick.) This three-for-the-price-of-one (unless you get it free at the library like I did) biography (tri-ography?) is full of "who knew" details a...more
Deborah
This was a very good biography, well-researched and well written, and a "three-fer" to boot. But I think I may have to stop reading biographies, or at least bios of contemporary artists whose art I admire. I like Carole King's work, not so much a fan of Carly, but she did do some good pop songs; but I really like Mitchell's music. And while I still admire her as an artist, as a person, I kind of just want to smack her. Or tell her to just get over herself! All three women seem to be congenitally...more
Jeanette (Most of My Favorite Authors Are Dead)
Interest level for this book will depend on your age and personal recollections of events and music discussed. Joni, Carole, and Carly are almost a full generation ahead of me, but their music was the soundtrack for my childhood beginning around age nine or ten. Much of the info in the book went right past me, as I had no associations on which to pin it, but it's easy enough to scan past that stuff.

The subtitle, "the journey of a generation," is important if you want to know what this book is li...more
Linda
Jun 18, 2008 Linda rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: folkies, fans of the 60's & 70's music
Girls Like Us parallels the lives and careers of three iconic women composer/performers: Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, while documenting the history of an era and a generation. The common threads among the three (James Taylor pops up in all three stories) were what I found most fascinating. The book is long and the writing is poor, with long, run-on sentences, including one that goes on for half a page. The author never mastered the use of footnotes, preferring to sprinkle the text...more
Meg
3.5 stars. Really enjoyed reading this book, though I felt it could have used some editing. The author did exhaustive research and gives an in-depth portrayal of the lives and fortunes of these three women, relating their histories to the zeitgeist of the 60's and 70's. I was inspired to go back and listen to more music by these three singers, none of whom I know very well.

- I learned to appreciate Carole King as an incredible songwriter. I had no idea she (together with her then-husband) was th...more
David
Joint bio (mostly alternating chapters, covering their whole lives chronologically) of 3 singers of about the same vintage. Some stuff I've heard a million times (Warren Beatty inspired "You're So Vain"; James Taylor was a heroin addict......), some with which I was unfamiliar (Carole King and approximately her fourth husband had a long-running legal battle with Idaho neighbors about their wish to close off a private road that previous owners had let everyone use; "Anticipation" was about a date...more
Katie K
The biggest problem I had with this book was with the way Weller organized the book. Instead of giving us the entire Joni story or the entire Carly story, she gave us what Carly, Joni and Carole were each doing during a span of years. I understand why she did this; as readers, we were supposed to see the parallels between these women. But instead of seeing the parallels, I was just confused and annoyed. It was nearly impossible to keep track of who all these people were and what significance the...more
Lori
Aug 13, 2008 Lori rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Music fans; groovy people; women's history readers
Shelves: music
I should begin this review by confessing some shocking ignorance. I am not in the right age group to be the prime demographic for this book. I was a young woman in the Big 80s and those times were vastly different from the heyday of Carole, Joni and Carly's music. The earth mothers had donned power suits and the free love had given way to a darker and more paranoid era sexually. The First Wave had already happened and women my age were told we could "have it all". Although we firmly believed thi...more
Ginacjones
This was one of the most interesting biographies I have read about anyone in the entertainment field. First, I am a big admirer of their music - my late teens and college years were filled with Carly, Carole & Joni music. I don't know what the author had to do to get the cooperation that she got for this book, but she definitely got the inside look at these 3 women. I'd be interested in hearing what C, C & J think of the book. It really put their lives out front and in center - the good,...more
Michele
Stayed In Bed All Morning . . .
. . . just to finish reading this book. It's a long one, especially when you devour each little word contained in the many footnotes, but worth every hour spent. Reading this thorough, well-researched, and respectful biography of three notorious singer-songwriters, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, from their days as young, aspiring artists to current days as grandmothers, was like listening to their music for the first time again. I couldn't help but bre...more
Tressa
Even though I’ve been listening to Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon for decades, I had no idea I would enjoy Girls Like Us so much. Sheila Weller is a pop trivia queen and had to have spent hours hunched over microfilm machines, researching the minutiae of these ladies’ lives.

The interviewees go all the way back to neighborhood playmates and school chums, and the book is filled with information about the music scene starting in the early sixties, when Carole King started plinking out...more
Caitlin
I really wanted this to be better than it was. I love all 3 singers & Joni Mitchell, in particular, has been an off and on soundtrack in my life, but this book just didn't live up to its potential.

Weller can't seem to decide whether she's writing a social history of these women & their times or a gossipy tell-all potboiler. The book careens between these two choices & does neither well.

There's interesting material buried in here & in all 3 life stories. In particular the challeng...more
Shari
What fun! If you came of age in the 70's this is a book that you will want to read. It belongs in a text set with BOOM! by Tom Brokaw. The songs of King, Mitchell, and Simon were the soundtrack of my youth. Weller presented these biographies in the context of world events. So in addition to learning that Carole King wrote UP ON THE ROOF and THE LOCOMOTION (Did you know that??), I also learned that the first birth control pill was never actually tested on human females and had serious side effect...more
Marcia

A fun read for the last 250 pages or so, unfortunately, this book is over 500 pages. My advice, skip the first 200 pages or so. The pop psychology of their childhoods is less interesting to me than what is behind their music, the connections between the three of them, and, without a doubt, the gossip of who slept with whom and who the songs are REALLY about. The author is not a great writer, but the book is thoroughly researched and documented. I’ve never seen so many footnotes in a music biogra...more
Chris
What a fun ride this book was! The bumps in the road... bad writing and detail overload in spots ... couldn't ruin the trip through my own formative years with three cohorts who provided an important musical score. Their lives and work provided this author with fertile detail to draw fascinating connections with each other, with an awesome array of major musical figures of the times (far beyond James Taylor, who figured in all three lives importantly and interestingly), and with the American wom...more
Mary Jo
A compelling portrait of three leading female artists of the Baby Boom generation. I was a fan of all three, but I discovered much I didn't know about each of them in Weller's widely researched and deeply detailed book. In telling the story of the lives of King, Mitchell and Simon, Weller also gives readers insight into the history and culture of the music industry of the 1950s-80s. All of it is fascinating, including her tangents about the supporting players in the lives of the three women. Whi...more
Amy
Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--And the Journey of a Generation has been on my bookshelf since last Thanksgiving. When I saw it in my local indie bookstore, I couldn't resist it: colorful cover and promises of inside info on Joni Mitchell. Even though Joni Mitchell's music was more popular when my mom was young, I love her. I think she, Linda Rondstadt, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Simon & Garfunkle just sank into my brain along with the amniotic fluid before birth. My p...more
Patti Dudek
I just finished listening to this book for the second time in less then two weeks. I have it on my iPod. Anyone that knows me knows that I love to read and listen to books. I love movies, but most importantly I love music. It has been a passion of mine for as long as I can even recall having memories. The first concert I ever went to was James Taylor. I still love this man's music....it should then come as no surprise to anyone that I also love the music of Carly Simon (James' ex wife and the mo...more
Kim Fay
This is a delicious book! And I am not a DIEHARD fan of Joni, Carole or Carly - the kind of person who would love anything about them. I like all of them. I admire all of them. I enjoy and appreciate their music. But what fascinated me most about "Girls Like Us" was how these three very different women affected societal roles for women and changed the shape of gender dynamics in America. They validated what had before been dismissed as domestic or emotional ... those darn womanly traits! I don't...more
Susan Ritz
I loved this book, couldn't out it down. I remember listening to Joni and Carole (Carly less) constantly in high school, but until I read this book I hadn't actually thought of how their very personal, biographical music led me into womanhood, esp. Joni, my all time favorite. Weller does a great job showing how these women were the soundtrack to our rapidly changing lives in the late 60's, early 70's, trying to figure out how to fit into relationships with men while still maintaining our freedom...more
Mark
There is a species of nonfiction in which the author tells you she is going to tell you something. Tells you what it is going to mean. Finally writes it up for you. Uh, then repeats it from a slightly different point of view. Then recapitulates the material in its entirety to put it in context for you. Five sentences are used every time one would do. Ten for every two.

What we have here is an author who (maybe) likes her material but in fact is passionately in love with her own words, her own tho...more
Mollie
While I would be a liar if I said I didn't enjoy the book.

However, what it came down to - for me - was that the book was in many ways poorly written and the author didn't present her ideas to their best advantage.

However, I did find the book to be thoroughly researched.

I enjoyed learning about Carole, Joni and Carly's careers.
and I appreciated the theme of the struggling female artist in a man's world and the furthur struggles with gender roles and sexuality and then the struggles of pop arti...more
Elizabeth Arveda
I picked this up because (a) it was mentioned favorably on a blog I sometimes enjoy, and (b) as a teen, I was a huge, huge fan of Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell. (I liked Carole King well enough, but she was no Joni.) I'm having a hard time pushing through this book. The prose is too floral, for lack of better word. And the author's attempts to link every moment of these women's lives to cultural and historical touchstones is becoming tedious. It's worse than Forrest Gump. For instance, watching...more
Mary Anne
I really wanted to like this book, mainly because I like the music these women have created over the years. But unfortunately, I'll have to settle for continuing to like just the music.

Have you ever read a biography that shared so much information that you just didn't want to spend any more time with the subjects? This book is like that. Of course it is partly the times, but there is a lot of bed-hopping, and a lot of lousy choices for partners. One area where the book worked, was pointing out...more
Kerfe
Sometimes I think that artists--both musical and visual--should just keep their private lives private and let the work speak for itself. If the art is wonderful, the actual person creating it--all too human--can be kind of a let-down.

No one in the incestuous musical world of Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, and as a unifying factor, James Taylor, comes off particularly well in this book. Though I think the author means to give you a sense of how hard it was for these pioneering women in...more
Pat
Literally, my coming of age in the 1970's, was alongside the music of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. Without reading this book, I would have never seen the influence of their songs in my attitudes and actions. The author, whose work sometimes read like a dissertation, gave intimate details in the creation of certain songs, and I could identify moments of my life with these songs--certainly a testament to the power and influence of music.

It was also, for me, a study of creation-the...more
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