Welcome to Girls Like Us The Blog!

March 22, 2008


 I wrote GIRLS LIKE US: CAROLE KING, JONI MITCHELL, CARLY SIMON — AND THE JOURNEY OF A GENERATION to not only explore these three remarkable singer-songwriters’ lives and work, but also to tell the rich, vivid story of their generation (my generation) of American women. When I’ve talked about this book — and its subjects, the comments I’ve gotten have, gratifyingly, told me I’ve — as several women have said — “hit a nerve.” A next blog will be devoted to the women of the generation (yay, team!) — and, after that, we’ll have many more topics (including my conversations with great guest-writers: I have a lot of talented friends), but this one is devoted to how important, in so many ways, these three women have been to so many.  How to count the ways? Well, for starters…  * A writer in her thirties said , “I absolutely worshipped Carole King in grade school and Joni Mitchell in high school. “ * A yoga teacher in her mid-40s said, I listened to lots of Carly Simon records when I was a kid.  She looked so cool, lanky and sexy on her covers — like someone I’d never run into in the suburbs of [my Midwestern city] When I was a freshman…and for some reason I cheated on an exam. — just couldn’t resist looking over the shoulder of one of my smarty pants classmates and copying down her answers.  Now, I think it was mostly a cry for attention.  I felt awful about it and really liked the teacher. He seemed approachable so I decided to confess and see how that
went.  At the time I was listening a lot to Simon’s `Boys in the Trees’
album and really liked the song “In a Small Moment”. The idea that it starts
with a small lie and then another and then another and that’s how it gets
out of hand.  I didn’t want to be one of those people.  So I packaged up a
note and recording of that song as an explanation and apology for my actions and dropped it off in his office.  I got the reaction I wanted.  He became curious about me and I knew that I’d never do it again.  And I didn’t.”
 * A psychotherapist of 62 said, “Joni Mitchell’s `Ladies of the Canyon’ got me through my first divorce.” * The head of a major 9/11 victims’ consortium fund — a woman in her 50s — said, “I loved Carole King — people told me when I played the piano I sounded like her.” * Countless women have said that Joni’s Blue “saved my life.” * A fact checker in Manhattan said: My older was always playing the piano when we were growing up….One of my best memories is sitting with her at the piano and singing songs together.  We’d sing lots of show tunes which my father loved and then she’d get the Carole King songbook out.  Carole’s songs were so singable and made you feel good when you sang them.  `Where You Lead,’ `Natural Woman,’ everything from Tapestry. I also felt very hip singing this with my sister.  When my sister turned 50 a few years ago I didn’t know what to get her for her birthday, but then I knew that I had to get her the Carole King songbook.  * A 44-year-old international women’s foundation worker in Berkeley said: “That picture of Carly on the cover of `No Secrets!’ — when I was in junior high and saw that, my friends and I thought we all wanted to look like her!” They’ve all looked behind, from where we came. Come on — you do, too! Go back through the rich and royal-hued tapestry of your life and, in comments to this blog, share your stories of how important these women, and their songs, were to you. After all: This blog, like this song, is about you! Cheers, Sheila 



  1. I am so excited for this book. I read the excerpt in Vanity Fair and wanted more, more, more. I grew up loving Carly Simon. When Carly and James Taylor broke up I was devastated, and to this day am still hoping they’ll get back together. Sheila thank you for writing this book. Carly was so beautiful and still is. My fantasy is to meet her one day and tell her how important she was to me and that she was the music backdrop of my life.

  2. May I be the first? Congrats on the book, the VF article, and the buzz! I can’t wait to get my signed copy. Have you and S. popped the cork yet? All the best, T.

  3. Sheila: I was lucky to have an advance copy and it’s a wonderful book: finally, someone has told the story of these extraordinary women and how the impact they had on a generation. The Joni adoption section, by the way, was incredibly moving, especially the interview with her former flatmate and his kindness to her. One question: didn’t Kilauren Gibb, Joni’s daughter, research Mitchell’s life (including some of the “identifying” information) by visiting jonimitchell.com? My late friend Wally Breese – the creator of the site – verified the info and had contact with Kilauren; he encouraged her to reach out to Joni’s managers. Back in 1997, Wally’s site was “unofficial” and completely unique (he launched it out of concern that Joni wasn’t receiving the recognition she deserved). Before he passed away, Wally told me that he believed that the site (which Joni had originally opposed) had a “spiritual role” in bringing about their reunion.

  4. I grew up listening to Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Carole King with my mom. We rolled down the car windows and sang LOUD. Even then, I knew my mom was sharing more than her favorite music. Carole King’s Beautiful was everything she wished for me: “You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in heart.” Carly Simon’s So Far Away made me realize my mom had a romantic life before my dad. (Who knew?) And Joni Mitchell? Well, she’s been my touchstone throughout many tough times. When I went to college, I listened to Joni. Had my first break-up? Joni. Moved to New York? Joni. Here’s to the women of my mother’s generation… and the lessons they’ve taught me! I can’t wait to give “Girls Like Us” to my mom. Wishing great things for this book… Congratulations, Sheila!

  5. I was reading Vanity Fair while on vacation in Costa Rica when I got to the excerpt of Girls Like Us. It was monumental! I’d never read so much detail and previously unreported information about these three musicians. I devoured the excerpt then read it again, all the while trying to figure out who I knew who could FedEx a galley copy to me in the rain forest! Imagine my joy when a week later during my first day at Glamour I see Sheila Weller’s name listed as a contributor on the masthead. I had the opportunity to meet Sheila when she came to the office last week and I mentioned that I had put a play list together to listen to while reading the book. It’s great to read about a song then scroll down and listen to it. She kindly asked me to share my play list on her blog. So, Sheila, here it is. Thank you for giving us this incredible work–it’s the book I’ve been waiting for for half my life!

    Been to Canaan
    Goin’ Back
    Home Again
    I Feel the Earth Move
    It’s Too Late
    Only Love is Real
    Smackwater Jack
    So Far Away
    Song of Long Ago
    Sweet Seasons
    Up On the Roof
    Where You Lead
    Way Over Yonder
    Will You Love Me Tomorrow?
    Will You Love Me Tomorrow (The Shirelles)
    You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman
    You’ve Got a Friend
    All I Want
    The Arrangement
    Big Yellow Taxi
    Blue Boy
    Blue Motel Room
    The Boho Dance
    Cactus Tree
    Car On A Hill
    A Case Of You
    The Circle Game
    Court And Spark
    Down To You
    For Free
    Free Man In Paris
    Furry Sings the Blues
    Harry’s House / Centerpiece
    Help Me
    The Hissing of Summer Lawns
    I Had a King
    In France They Kiss On Main Street
    The Jungle Line
    Just Like This Train
    Ladies of the Canyon
    Lesson in Survival
    Let the Wind Carry Me
    Little Green
    Michael from Mountains
    Morning Morgantown
    My Old Man
    Nathan la Franeer
    Night in the City
    People’s Parties
    The Priest
    Rainy Night House
    Raised On Robbery
    Refuge of the Roads
    Same Situation
    Shades of Scarlett Conquering
    Shadows and Light
    Sisotowbell Lane
    Song for Sharon
    Song to a Seagull
    A Strange Boy
    This Flight Tonight
    Trouble Child

    Boys in the Trees
    Coming around Again
    Haven’t Got Time for the Pain
    Legend In Your Own Time
    Let the River Run
    Our First Day Together
    The Right Thing to Do
    The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
    That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be
    Think I’m Gonna Have a Baby
    We Have No Secrets
    We’re so Close
    You Belong to Me
    You’re So Vain

  6. When do we NOT want to know? YES! I am so glad someone finally asked this question. I mean, do we really need to know everything about the lives of celebs, down to what their crazy canine’s problems? (hmmmm….okay, maybe some of us do….) That said, I could care less about most of the juicy gossip about celebs today. What I do, however, LOVE about Sheila Weller’s book is that she shows us how these iconic women overcame their challenges (and sometimes, ahem, didn’t – c’est la vie, no?); she shares their humanness with warth and love, their journeys, and their music. Who cares about Britney Spears? Sheila Weller has painted a portrait of the past that inspires me to move forward with my own projects. Now, if juicy gossip can do that – inspire and motivate – then I do want to know. Otherwise, unless I am just a huge fan, I could really care less. The stories of these women, in contrast, are truly inspirational and breathe new life into the past thanks to Sheila Weller’s powerful pen.

  7. I loved this book, but I didn’t know about this blog until today, when I posted a review of the book on MY blog. Here’s the link:

  8. I loved the book and am telling all my friends about it. As a hippie chick in the 70s, I was born in 1954, I went through a lot of what was expressed in the book about the transformation of women and relationships all set to the music of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carol King and the various other musicians talked about in the book. The journey goes on as does the music!

  9. I am about half way through my own copy of this book it takes me back to a time when girls had talent and could sing and play instruments which to me is one of the greatest things ever!

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