Carrie Fisher: ‘If you can get Paul Simon to write a song about you, do it’


The next sentence to that quote from her memoir Wishful Drinking (as used in the headline) had Carrie Fisher adding, “Because he is so brilliant at it.” Indeed he was and none better than the title track from Hearts And Bones – the underbought 1983 precursor to the mega-selling Graceland in 1986.

If 2016 was the year of the celebrity death, then it was also the year of the celebrity obituary. Putting to one side it also being the troubling year of Brexit, Trump and Putin, here is one very short, somewhat overdue obit for Carrie Fisher (who died of a probable heart attack on December 27th, aged 60).

I interviewed her mother Debbie years ago and she was just as keen to talk about her even more famous daughter as she was her then upcoming show in Auckland. The two had had their mother/daughter ups and downs over the years, but it was clear there was a deep pride in the hilarious, beautiful, super-smart daughter she’d help create. It was sad but somehow not shocking that Debbie died just one day after Carrie. Debbie’s final words before a reported stroke were said to be, “I want to be with Carrie”.

Carrie Fisher was barely in her 20s when she started seeing Paul Simon and though their marriage in the early 80s only lasted a matter of months, they continued to date each other on and off for the rest of the decade.  Written in the aftermath of their marriage split, Hearts And Bones is a gorgeous, melancholy and notably bitter-less take of the “arc of a love affair”. The fact Carrie was half-Jewish on her father’s side is mentioned in the opening line: “One and one half wandering Jews…”

Ever the master of the succinct lyric that says so much, the part of Hearts And Bones that has always stood out for me is where Paul sings about him and Carrie returning to their “natural coasts” where they will “resume old acquaintances, step out occasionally, and speculate who had been damaged the most”.

And isn’t that precisely what people do. Written for the remarkable woman he still loved, this gentle acoustic guitar-driven track is up there with the absolute masterpieces in the Paul Simon cannon. RIP Carrie Fisher.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Diane Gilliam-Weeks says:

    ‘Wandering’! but thanks for sharing this very beautiful song,

    1. timroxborogh says:

      Well spotted – thank you! Tim

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