Picks and Pans Review: Sirens of the Seventies

UPDATED 04/14/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/14/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Sheila Weller newman |

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For many women, especially those of us over 40, Carly Simon, Carole King and Joni Mitchell provided the soundtrack to the most memorable moments of our lives. Who didn't listen to Mitchell's "Blue" after getting dumped? Who could hear "You're So Vain" and not think, "Where did she meet my boyfriend?" And "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"? That marked the first time we felt our sexuality was A-OK. Even as it spoke to our rawest emotions, this music, as Weller's book suggests, midwifed feminism.

Weller manages to be both scholarly and dishy in this almost 600-page tome. A superb journalist, she has uncovered a trove of unreported facts about her subjects. We learn, for example, about the child that King's first husband and collaborator Gerry Goffin had with a member of the Cookies during his marriage to King; the details of Simon's struggle with then-husband James Taylor's heroin addiction, and what finally ended their marriage; and the true identity of Joni Mitchell's "Cary"—who, by the way, is still a red, red rogue. The only irksome note in this otherwise captivating biography is the title. Girls Like Us? We wish.

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