Her father was Richard Simon (co-founder of Simon & Schuster), an accomplished pianist who often played Chopin and Beethoven at home. She was raised in the Riverdale neighborhood of New York City and had two sisters and a brother.
After an unsuccessful attempt at launching a career with her sister Lucy (the Simon Sisters), Simon released Carly Simon in 1971 (see 1971 in music), which contained "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be", a Top Ten hit. Her major breakthrough, though, was 1972's (see 1972 in music) No Secrets, which included "You're So Vain". The single was a hit, and aroused much speculation about who the song was about, with many rumors pointing to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, who sang back up on the recording. Other candidates include Warren Beatty, Cat Stevens, and Kris Kristofferson.
Simon married Taylor in 1972 (see 1972 in music) and released another well-received album, Top Ten Hotcakes in 1974 (see 1974 in music). Her sales quickly began sinking, though, in the later 1970s, with only a few Top Ten hits, including "Nobody Does It Better" (from the soundtrack to The Spy Who Loved Me, a James Bond film) and "You Belong to Me" (from Boys in the Trees, 1978; see 1978 in music).
Simon and Taylor had two children, Sarah Maria (b. January 7, 1974) and Benjamin Simon Taylor (b. January 22, 1977), prior to their 1983 divorce.
In 1980 (1980 in music), Simon collapsed onstage of exhaustion, and largely retired from performing in the 1980s. "Why" (1982; see 1982 in music) was a hit in the UK, but she continued to scrape only the bottom of the charts with most of her singles in the 80s, also working on several film scores, including the song Let the River Run for Working Girl (for which she won the Academy Award for Best Song in 1988). Her latest album is The Bedroom Tapes (2000; see 2000 in music).