Q&Amp;A: Piglet's Producer

Carly Simon doesn't often do press, but she made an exception for Piglet.

The singer, who calls herself a longtime Disney fan, started working on the music for "Piglet's Big Movie" back in 1999. "I had no idea it would take so long," says Simon. "It was all good, but I had never written for an animated movie, which is more complicated." Simon worked with Disney from the initial drawings all the way through the completion of the film, which opened in March.

This week, the longtime singer-songwriter talked to NEWSWEEK's B. J. Sigesmund about collaborating with a demanding Disney organization, why she usually avoids interviews and her other new release, a greatest-hits CD called "Anthology." Simon also explains why she's never identified the man who inspired "You're So Vain." Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: You wrote a lot of new material for "Piglet's Big Movie." But it sounds like it was more work than you'd expected.

Carly Simon: Yeah, you get the CD and you think, "Oh, just a little thing she just threw together." No. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done and the most laborious--but also, in a way the most fun.

Give us the time frame.

I first heard about this in August of 1999. I started writing the music probably September 1999, and then very slowly we got into it more seriously that winter. I kept saying, "This isn't coming out until 2003? Are you kidding?' Usually in that amount of time, I could write maybe 40 or 50 songs. But count 'em, there are only six or seven.

But this wasn't just a soundtrack you were writing. You were creating songs to help tell the movie's story.

Funny enough, I didn't even think about the CD, except parenthetically. I thought there would be some recording down the line--and boy was it down the line! I had no idea the writing of it would take so long. It was all good, but I'd never worked on a process like this before.

Working for Disney and writing songs about one of the studio's prized characters, you must have had a lot of people to please.

I must say, it was all pretty happy. But there was a lot of in-house, "No, I'm the boss of this one," "No, I'm the boss of this one," "No, she can't do that." The more people you have to go through, the longer it takes. And then there are power struggles even between those people that you, the writer, aren't even aware of. Which is why they get exactly what they want. But it doesn't make it easy on the person who's working for them. Still, the people who hired me had continual faith in me. I never thought at any point that [soundtrack coproducer] Matt Walker had someone on the other phone saying, "Carly's being such a bloody bore." Matt was on my side all the way.

Any battles?

I had to fight for the word "intuition" [on Track 3, 'Mother's Intuition"]. They thought it was too grown-up, or there was one person on one team that thought it was too grown-up.

You say Disney movies had a serious impact on you when you were growing up. How so?

They made up the majority of the movies that I saw between the ages of 2 until 11 or 12. Then I saw "Gone With the Wind" and everything changed. It was all the Disney movies. I couldn't wait until they came out. I went to see them five and six times each, and in the case of "Cinderella," it was probably 50 times, that was my favorite movie.

Which characters do you identify with in the "Winnie the Pooh" series?

I swing between feeling like Piglet and Eeyore. I'm like Piglet, in that I have a lot of empathy and I want to help, but I don't know whether I'm big enough to help. Sometimes, I don't feel appreciated by my friends. And the way I'm like Eeyore is that I tend to be a kind of a pessimist. But then I will swing really optimistic for a little while there. I can be very pushed around by other people's thoughts of me, which is not a good thing.

You don't do interviews very often. We get the feeling you don't like the media much.

I hardly ever do press. I don't do anything that is not going to represent me well. You can get spluttered about in the press in so many different ways. I certainly don't do press in order to have a lot of press. In fact my whole life, I've kind of kept away from doing that so that I can dole it out in little pieces.

Have you been dissatisfied with interviews once you've read them?

I usually was more dissatisfied in things that I had said--you had to be there to hear the giggle in my voice, that kind of thing. But mainly you sort of make up your mind early in your career if it's going to be a low-profile one or a high-profile one that will burn out quickly. Or if you're going to have peaks and valleys. I don't live in any of the entertainment capitals of the world, and I'm much harder to reach. I feel much more like an artist than like a celebrity.

Besides the "Piglet" soundtrack, you've got a recently released greatest-hits CD, "Anthology," a two-CD set that goes chronologically through 30 years of your career. What are your favorite songs on it?

Looking at the first side, there's a song that I think should be remixed as a single, "Vengeance." It's a really driving song that you want to move to--it's from the disco era. It's just sexy. I also think "Scar" is a really good song, that's on the second side. It's very soul searching. "Orpheus" is another one of my favorites. Did I say "Coming Around Again"? And of course, I do love "You're So Vain."

It's been 30 years, and people still ask you who you were thinking of when you wrote, "You're So Vain." You've never said.

It's proven one thing: that if you don't say something, people will nudge you about it forever. If you do, they'll go away. So there's no reason to. That's kind of how I think about it.