Working Girl

Original Soundtrack

Arista, 1989

REVIEW BY: Peter Piatkowski

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/15/2021

The 1980s were good for Carly Simon, particularly when she settled into her niche of penning and recording movie themes of romantic comedies. Pairing Simon with rom-com makes perfect sense, as much of her writing feels like Nora Ephron set to music. Working Girl, directed by Mike Nichols, turned out to be an important work for Simon, as the film’s theme song, “Let The River Run” made the singer-songwriter an Oscar winner. The gospel-tinged tune also won Simon a Grammy and Golden Globe, making the project a big entry in her discography.

“Let The River Run” is the only song on the Working Girl my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 soundtrack that features Simon singing lyrics. It works as a fitting companion to the film, a pop feminist tale of a woman who makes her way up the corporate ladder. Like Dolly Parton’s “9 To 5,” “Let The River Run” Is an anthem of the working woman – the woman who, like the film’s Tess McGill, keeps her dreams alive, despite institutional obstacles. The song opens with a chorus chanting the song’s bridge acapella, before Simon’s idiosyncratic voice booms, “Let the river run/let all dreamers wake the nation/come the new Jerusalem” as a churchy piano accompanies her. Simon’s lyrics pay tribute to New York City (though the images of “silver cities” rising and sirens calling evoke any large metropolis) with special attention being paid to the opportunities that giant cities afford to pavement pounders. The song’s production is vintage ‘80s Carly Simon – synths, drum machines, slick pianos – and much of its quite dated, but is still stirring, especially when Simon trades lines with the energetic backup choir.

The other Simon tracks are instrumental tracks that score the film. She chooses to compose music that is sweeping and very pretty. The score is awash with moving strings and stately keyboards. Whilst “Let The River Run” is the sole pop song Simon sings on the album, “Carlotta’s Heart” – a gentle, meandering tune with a soft electric bass and tinkly synths – has her lazily chant “la la la” throughout the song . “Looking Through Katherine’s House” features some nifty cooing from Simon who vocalizes the catchy melody of “Let The River Run” with a chorus.

Aside from the Simon tracks, which comprise of half the album’s five tracks, the rest of Working Girl is a serviceable sampler of ‘80s Top 40 radio pop as well as Sonny Rollins’ memorable jazz classic “Poor Butterfly,” which sounds a bit out of place in the pop confines of the soundtrack. Working Girl is a fun, at times rousing album that relies on its hit single to draw listeners in.

Rating: B

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