You're So Vain

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"You're So Vain"
Single by Carly Simon
from the album No Secrets
B-side His Friends Are More Than Fond of Robin
Released November 1972
Format 7" single
Recorded Autumn 1972, Trident Studios
Genre Pop, soft rock[1]
Length 4:19
Label Elektra
Writer(s) Carly Simon
Producer(s) Richard Perry
Certification Gold[2]
Carly Simon singles chronology
"Legend in Your Own Time"
"You're So Vain"
"The Right Thing to Do"

"You're So Vain" is a song written and performed by Carly Simon and released in November 1972. The song is a critical profile of a self-absorbed lover about whom Simon asserts "You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you." The title subject's identity has long been a matter of speculation.

The song is ranked at #82 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of All-Time.[3] "You're So Vain" was voted #216 in RIAA's Songs of the Century. And on August 23, 2014, the U.K. Official Charts Company crowned it the ultimate song of the 1970s.[4] It remains Simon's biggest hit and is considered her signature song.

The distinctive bass guitar intro is played by Klaus Voormann[5] and the strings were arranged and orchestrated by Paul Buckmaster.

Subject of the song[edit]

Before the song became a hit single in 1972, Simon told an interviewer that the song was about "men," not a specific "man".[6]

In 1983, she said it is not about Mick Jagger,[7] who contributed uncredited backing vocals to the song.[8] In a 1993 book Angela Bowie claimed to be the "wife of a close friend" mentioned in "You're So Vain", and that Jagger, for a time, had been "obsessed" with her.[9] Simon made another comment about the subject's identity as a guest artist on Janet Jackson's 2001 single, "Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)", which sampled "You're So Vain". Simon said about the song, "The apricot scarf was worn by Nick (Delbanco). Nothing in the words were referred to Mick."

In a 2007 interview Warren Beatty said, "Let's be honest. That song was about me."[10] Simon in 1983 said Beatty "certainly thought it was about him — he called me and said thanks for the song..."[7]

Over the years Simon has divulged "letter clues" and has claimed that the subject's name contains the letters A, E, and R.[citation needed]

Shortly before the writing of the song, Simon was married to James Taylor; she has said that he was "definitely not" the subject of the song.[citation needed] David Bowie, David Cassidy and Cat Stevens have all been cited by the press as speculative candidates.[11][12][13]

In August 2003 Simon agreed to reveal the name of the song's subject to the highest bidder of the Martha's Vineyard Possible Dreams charity auction. With the top bid of $50,000, Dick Ebersol, president of NBC Sports and a friend of Simon, won the right to know the name of the subject of "You're So Vain". A condition of the prize was that Ebersol not reveal the name.[14] Ebersol said Simon allowed him to divulge a clue about the person's name: "Carly told me that I could offer up to the entire world a clue as to what she'll tell me when we have this night in about two weeks. And the clue is: The letter 'E' is in the person's name."[15]

In 2004 Simon told Regis Philbin, "If I tell it, it's going to come out in dribs and drabs. And I've given out two letters already, an 'A' and an 'E.' But I'm going to add one to it. I'm going to add an 'R,' in honor of you."[16]

In 2005 Simon's ex-husband Jim Hart said he was sure that the song was not about anyone famous.[17]

On June 19, 2008 Howard Stern claimed that Simon had privately revealed to him about whom the song was written after her interview on his popular radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio. Stern commented, "There is an odd aspect to it ... he's not that vain." On March 17, 2009, Stern claimed that she had said it was a "composite of three people". Stern repeated this on May 5, 2014 claiming, "she takes me aside, pulls me close, whispers in my ear.. three names. She goes, it wasn't one person, it was three people." Stern thought that one of the names was Warren Beatty and another might be David Geffen, but said that he "forgot."[18]

In her 2008 book Girls Like Us, author Sheila Weller includes a detailed account of Simon's love affair with musician Dan Armstrong, and suggests that he was the inspiration for "You're So Vain." Her heartbreak over eventually losing him inspired the song "Dan, My Fling," which appears on her first album.[19] Armstrong's full name, Daniel Kent Armstrong, contains all three letters of Simon's clue.

On November 4, 2009, Simon said she had hidden the name of the subject in a certain version of the song. The next day, the program's crew revealed the name concealed in a back-played whisper:[20] David. Simon denied that the whisper was "David", saying she has spoken "Ovid" both forwards and backwards, and that sounded like David.[citation needed] In February 2010, Simon reiterated that the name of the subject was whispered in a re-recording of "You're So Vain": "There's a little whisper — and it's the answer to the puzzle."[21] A representative for Simon confirmed that the name whispered during the song is "David".[21] Multiple media outlets then speculated that the subject was Simon's former boss at Elektra, David Geffen,[22] The following day Jim Hart, Simon's ex-husband and close friend, denied that the song was about Geffen.[6] Simon said that when she wrote the song in 1971, she had not yet met Geffen.[23] Simon's publicist also confirmed the song was not about Geffen, but that there was indeed "a David who is connected to the song in some way, shape, or form,"[6] Vanity Fair noted that in addition to "David", "Warren" and an unintelligible name are whispered during the recording.[24]

After her live performance of the song with Simon in July 2013, Taylor Swift stated that Simon had revealed the identity of the song's subject to her in confidence.[25]

In November 2015, Simon, promoting her about-to-be-published memoir, said, "I have confirmed that the second verse is Warren (Beatty)," and added that while "Warren thinks the whole thing is about him," he is the subject only of that verse, with the remainder of the song referring to two other, still-unnamed men.[26]

References in the song[edit]

  • Two solar eclipses ("Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun") were visible from Nova Scotia in the early 1970s, on March 7, 1970,[27] and July 10, 1972.[28] Simon said she wrote the song in 1971.
  • The line "I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won," refers to the Saratoga Race Course horse-racing season held in late July, August, and early September in Saratoga Springs, New York. The season is frequented by the rich and famous of New York and other East Coast cities.[29]
  • Simon said the line "clouds in my coffee" came "from an airplane flight that I took with Billy Mernit, who was my friend and piano player at the time. As I got my coffee, there were clouds outside the window of the airplane and you could see the reflection in the cup of coffee. Billy said to me, 'Look at the clouds in your coffee'."[30]

Covers and adaptations[edit]

  • On their 2009 album Felony, New York metalcore band, Emmure had a song titled "R2Deepthroat" where vocalist Frankie says "You're so vain, I bet you think this song is about you, don't you?"

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly singles charts[edit]

Chart (1973) Peak
Australia (ARIA Charts) 1
Canada (RPM Charts) 1
Ireland (IRE Charts)[35] 4
UK (Official Chart Company)[36] 3
US Billboard Pop Singles (Hot 100) 1
US Billboard Adult Contemporary 1

End of year charts[edit]

End of year chart (1973) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 [37] 9
U.S. Cash Box Top 100 [38] 7

The song was a number-one hit in the US, Canada and Australia and reached number four in Ireland and South Africa.[39] Bowing at #99 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 2 December 1972, the song took only five more weeks to rocket to the top of the chart, where it stayed for the first three weeks of 1973, also spending two weeks at the top of the Easy Listening chart in early 1973, her first number one on either chart. "You're So Vain" was Simon's breakthrough hit in the United Kingdom, reaching number three on the UK chart on its original release in 1973. The song was re-released in the UK in 1991 to cash in on its inclusion in a commercial for Dunlop Tyres, peaking at number 41.

Preceded by
"Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul
US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
January 6, 1973 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
Preceded by
"Clair" by Gilbert O'Sullivan
Canadian RPM number-one single
January 27, 1973 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Last Song" by Edward Bear


Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
1974 "You're So Vain" Record of the Year Nominated
Song of the Year Nominated
Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female Nominated
2004 Grammy Hall of Fame Award Inducted

See also[edit]


  1. ^ xfinity - Soft Rock Stars
  2. ^ RIAA (2010-02-28). "RIAA - Gold & Platinum - February 28, 2010". RIAA. Retrieved 2010-02-28.  (table of RIAA certifications for artist Carly Simon in format SINGLE)
  3. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Chart 50th Anniversary". 1994-05-21. Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Klaus Voormann : Biography". 1971-08-01. Retrieved 2014-05-30. 
  6. ^ a b c Weller, Sheila (February 27, 2010). "Fun and Games With the David Geffen Rumor About Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain'". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Wadler, Joyce (October 30, 1983). "Carly Simon: Anxiety &". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 18, 2015. Retrieved November 18, 2015. 
  8. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Carly Simon Biography". Retrieved November 18, 2015. 
  9. ^ Backstage Passes
  10. ^ Scoop: Fur Flies Between PETA, Karl Rove at the Wayback Machine (archived September 10, 2007)
  11. ^ article: "'You're So Vain': Carly Simon reveals mystery man".
  12. ^ New York Daily News article: "Chinese whisper: New recording of Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain' offers up 'David' as inspiration."
  13. ^ CNN article: "Carly Simon reveals 'You're So Vain' clue".
  14. ^ "Carly Simon gives away who is 'So Vain'". USA Today. Associated Press. August 5, 2003. Archived from the original on February 16, 2015. 
  15. ^ Ebersol on NBC's Today, August 5, 2003.
  16. ^ Carly Simon reveals third letter to Regis
  17. ^ Gavin Edwards, Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John? (2006)
  18. ^ Stern, Howard (host) (May 20, 2014). Howard Stern Show. Sirius XM Radio. 
  19. ^ Sheila Weller. Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon & the Journey of a Generation, Simon & Schuster. 2008: ISBN 978-0-7434-9147-1
  20. ^ WNYC Souncheck Webcast. November 5, 2009.
  21. ^ a b Simon in Uncut magazine interview, as reported by Newhall, Marissa (February 27, 2010). "Names and faces: Carly Simon, Mark and Jenny Sanford, Seth Green, Stevie Wonder > A vain hunt for 'David'". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 18, 2015. Retrieved November 18, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Carly Simon Reveals Subject of 'You're So Vain'?". February 26, 2010. Archived from the original on August 9, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  23. ^ Kreps, Daniel (March 1, 2010). "Carly Simon Refutes Theory That 'So Vain' Target Is David Geffen". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 5, 2015. Retrieved November 15, 2015. 
  24. ^ Weiner, Juli (February 26, 2010). "Update: Everyone Owes David Geffen an Apology". VF Daily. Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on February 28, 2010. 
  25. ^ "Taylor Swift and Carly Simon: You're So Vain". YouTube. 2013-07-29. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  26. ^ Dowd, Kathy Erich; Hubbard, Kim (November 18, 2015). "People Exclusive: Carly Simon Says 'You're So Vain' Is About Warren Beatty – Well, Only the Second Verse: 'He Thinks the Whole Thing Is About Him!'". People. Retrieved November 18, 2015. 
  27. ^ "USA - 1970 March 7 Total Solar Eclipse - Interactive Google Map (Full Screen) - Xavier Jubier". Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  28. ^ "Canada - 1972 July 10 Total Solar Eclipse - Interactive Google Map (Full Screen) - Xavier Jubier". Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  29. ^ Gatto, Kimberly (2011). Saratoga Race Course: The August Place to Be. The History Press. ISBN 978-1609491048. 
  30. ^ "You're So Vain". Carly Simon official website. Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. 
  31. ^ Makarechi, Kia (March 19, 2012). "Johnny Depp, Marilyn Manson Team Up For 'You're So Vain' Cover". HuffPost Entertainment (The Huffington Post). Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  32. ^ "Twitter / CarlySimonHQ: Carly Simon and Taylor Swift". Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ Jaclyn Ward - Fireball Media Group - "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Retrieved 2014-05-30. 
  36. ^ "Carly Simon". The Official Chart Company. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  37. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 chart for 1973
  38. ^ The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1973
  39. ^ Retrieved 7 April 2014

External links[edit]