.::Talent::.
 
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In the liner notes to Clouds In My Coffee, the three-CD box set retrospective Carly Simon released in 1995, the legendary singer-songwriter gives official credit to her old friend, pianist and onetime songwriting collaborator Billy Mernit, for coming up with the lyrical phrase that’s become an iconic and instantly recognizable part of pop music history.
 
But Mernit’s association with Simon goes far beyond whimsically speaking these four famous words (“clouds in my coffee”) which became part of her trademark 1972 hit “You’re So Vain.” The two, who met and first played together at Indian Hills Drama and Arts Camp in Stockbridge, Massachusetts when Mernit was a student and Simon an instructor, co-wrote the song “Reunions” that appeared on her 1971 self-titled debut. Mernit later co-wrote “When You Close Your Eyes” with Simon on No Secrets, her hit 1972 album that included “You’re So Vain.”
 
Simon later recorded Mernit’s song “Sons Of Summer” on her 1975 album Playing Possum. Several of Simon’s seminal 70s albums featured Mernit’s backing work on piano; in the late 70s when the notorious stage-shy Simon hit the road, Mernit was one of her two touring keyboardists.
 
Simon brought Mernit to the attention of her original label Elektra Records, which signed the young singer-songwriter and released Special Delivery, his lone solo album, in 1973. Produced by Jerry Yester, well known for his work with Tom Waits, The Association and The Lovin’ Spoonful, the collection earned him comparisons at the time to Randy Newman and featured performances by Ry Cooder and Elaine “Spanky” McFarlane from Spanky & Our Gang.
 
While the album has gone on to enjoy cult status in Japan, it was unsuccessful in America upon its release and Mernit never recorded another solo project. He instead focused on his increasingly successful career as a songwriter, adding to his list of cuts on Simon albums with tracks recorded by Judy Collins (who included “Special Delivery” on her Arif Mardin-produced Bread and Roses) and collaborations with singer Cindy Bullens and the folk-rock duo Aztec Two-Step. He also toured as a sideman at various points with pop singer Melanie (“Brand New Key”) and the famous mid-70s Japanese female pop duo Pink Lady.
 
After spending the 80s developing musical theatre projects back in his hometown of New York, Mernit re-invented himself as a successful television and screenwriter in Los Angeles, writing for, among other shows, the long running NBC soap opera Santa Barbara. While teaching screenwriting and storytelling at UCLA Extension, he also authored the essential best selling screenwriting textbook, Writing The Romantic Comedy, in 2001. Currently dividing his time between scriptwriting, working as a professional studio story analyst and teaching seminars around the country, Mernit is having his first novel, Imagine Me And You: A Novel, published in April 2008 by Random House/Shaye Areheart.

 


 



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