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You Probably Think This Song is About You

December 3, 2015

One of music’s biggest mysteries has finally been revealed.

Carly Simon You're So Vain

Carly Simon was one of the 1970s’ biggest pop stars. Her memoir Boys in the Trees just released, and to tease and promote it, she told People the answer to the one question they’ve been asking her for years that she’s never quite answered: the identity of the subject matter of her 1972 hit “You’re So Vain.”

Simon has been involved in a number of public and tumultuous relationships with famous people (James Taylor, Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty), leaving fans to wonder for more than 40 years which, if any of her famous beaus, “You’re So Vain” brutally took down a peg.

Simon has often dismissed claims that the song is about Beatty, but she’s changed her tune. She told People that Beatty thinks the whole song is about him…which would peg him as being quite vain. The truth: Only the second verse of the song, Simon confirms, is about him. (Among the lyrics: “you had me several years ago when I was still quite naive / well you said that we made such a pretty pair.”)

As for the other verses, Simon claims they’re about multiple people, or a composite of multiple individuals. However in 2010, she re-recorded the song with a mysterious whispered vocal during an instrumental section. Played backward, Simon can be heard saying “David,” prompting tabloids to theorize she meant David Geffen. Around the same time, NBC executive Dick Ebersol bid $50,000 at a charity auction for Simon to tell him the inspiration for “You’re So Vain” in confidence. All Simon revealed publicly otherwise is that the person’s name contains an E. (And there are a few in “Warren Beatty.”)

In keeping the identity of the star of “You’re So Vain” a secret, Simon even inadvertently exposed the identity of another secret 1970s figure. She used to joke that “You’re So Vain” was about Mark Felt, alluding to the rumor that the FBI head honcho was “Deep Throat,” the Watergate scandal informant who fed information to the Washington Post‘s Woodward and Bernstein. In 2005, Felt was revealed to have been Deep Throat.

Trivia Books

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