You Go, Girl! The Songs and the Inspirations

Strumming guitarI don’t know what it is, but after months of silence, I’m craving music — all my old favorite songs. Maybe it’s the weather with its tease of sunshine and heat. Maybe it’s seeing people walk around dressed in jeans and t-shirts instead of disappearing under the Michelin Man folds of a down parka. But there is music bubbling up inside of me, so if I don’t give it an outlet of singing along to songs that I love, I will be like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, bursting into song and spinning around with no provocation.

This month, I read articles in two separate magazines that made me think I must not be the only one feeling this way. First, the April issue of Vanity Fair published an excerpt from Sheila Weller‘s new book Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon – and the Journey of a Generation (Atria Books, 2008). Then I read More magazine’s May issue, which carries an article about four women who’ve served as inspiration for some of the most iconic songs of the last 40 years. Between the two articles, I’m singing some great songs.

Weller’s excerpt of Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and Carole King is fascinating reading; I’ll certainly be putting the book on reserve at the library to read the whole account. It’s the story of a different time and place for women singer-songwriters, when perhaps it was easier to be heard, particularly by the community of upcoming singer-songwriters. But from the article, it also seems like each of these women succeeded as much by the romantic entanglements and/or musical alliances she formed as by her sheer talent. Joni Mitchell was connected with members of the Blues Project, Leonard Cohen, and David Crosby; Carly Simon dated Cat Stevens and Kris Kristofferson before falling in love with her future husband James Taylor. Even Carole King, who seems the most rooted of the three during those times, co-wrote some of her seminal songs with her first husband, Gerry Goffin. It’s hard to imagine how these women, if placed in a time machine and transported to the future, would fare if trying to make it today. American Idol material, they’re not. I think the singer-songwriter who embodies their spirit most today is Seattle’s own Brandi Carlile.

The More article, “I Was the Girl in the Song,” was written by Peter Knobler and profiles Diane Lozito, the inspiration for Bruce Springsteen‘s “Rosalita”; Rikki Ducornet, who inspired Steely Dan‘s “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”; Sharona Alperin, the muse for the Knack‘s “My Sharona”; and Judy Collins, who inspired Crosby Stills and Nash‘s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” Hearing about the chance meetings between these women and the men who wrote the songs lends a powerful voice to how brief a moment needs to be for inspiration to spark.

Neither of these articles are up on the magazines’ websites yet, and may never be. Go look for them at your newsstand, or find Weller’s book, which was just released last week. Certainly, I’ve got my play list for the next several months.

What are the songs you’re listening to this spring?

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4 Responses to “You Go, Girl! The Songs and the Inspirations”

  1. merlotmom Says:

    You just brought me back to high school! I don’t know whether to thank you or smack you… Kidding aside, I sooo loved all of them.

  2. toddiedowns Says:

    Oh, I was totally the coffeehouse queen with most of the Carole King/Carly Simon/CSN oeuvre during my college days. Even now, I feel a verse of “It’s Too Late” coming on. . .

  3. Carol Lozito Says:

    Hi Peter,

    I am a wildlife artist and Diane Lozito’s sister. Yes, she was the muse for “Rosalita” and also ” Spirit in the Night” (CRAZY JANIE) THUNDERCLAP too.

    Any other articles about her that I can read. I’m an old friend of Bruce’s too.



    Are you from NY/NJ?

    • toddiedowns Says:


      So glad you found the post. I’m not sure why you’re calling me “Peter,” since my name is Toddie, but I can go with it. . .:) I don’t know of any other articles about your sister, but the book the article was based on would certainly be worth a read. Say Hi to Bruce for me when you see him next.

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