You're So Vain
|"You're So Vain"|
|Single by Carly Simon|
|from the album No Secrets|
|B-side||"His Friends Are More Than Fond of Robin"|
|Recorded||1972, Trident Studios|
|Genre||Pop, soft rock|
|Carly Simon singles chronology|
"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, with Simon stating that the song refers to three men, only one of whom she has named publicly, actor Warren Beatty. The song is ranked at #82 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of All-Time. "You're So Vain" was voted #216 in RIAA's Songs of the Century, and in August 2014, the UK's Official Charts Company crowned it the ultimate song of the 1970s.
Subject of the song
Before the song became a hit single in 1972, Simon told an interviewer that the song was about "men," not a specific "man".
In 1983, she said it is not about Mick Jagger, who contributed uncredited backing vocals to the song. In a 1993 book, Angie 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. 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 referred to Mick."
In a 2007 interview Warren Beatty said, "Let's be honest. That song was about me." Simon had said in 1983 that Beatty "certainly thought it was about him — he called me and said thanks for the song..." In an interview for the 1978/1982 version of The History of Rock & Roll radio series, producer Richard Perry acknowledges that Simon was essentially referring to Beatty while also referencing other men in her life.
Over the years Simon has divulged "letter clues" and has claimed that the subject's name contains the letters A, E, and R.
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. David Bowie, David Cassidy and Cat Stevens have all been cited by the press as speculative candidates.
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. 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."
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."
In 2005 Simon's ex-husband Jim Hart said he was sure that the song was not about anyone famous.
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."
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. 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: David. Simon denied that the whisper was "David," saying she had spoken "Ovid" both forwards and backwards, and that sounded like David. 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." A representative for Simon confirmed that the name whispered during the song is "David". Multiple media outlets then speculated that the subject was Simon's former boss at Elektra, David Geffen, The following day Jim Hart, Simon's ex-husband and close friend, denied that the song was about Geffen. Simon said that when she wrote the song in 1971, she had not yet met Geffen. 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," Vanity Fair noted that in addition to "David", "Warren" and an unintelligible name are whispered during the recording.
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 of that verse only, with the remainder of the song referring to two other, still unnamed men.
References in the song
- 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, and July 10, 1972. Simon said she wrote the song in 1971, so she likely referenced the one from 1970.
- 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.
- 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'."
Later versions and adaptations
- The song has been recorded by Chocolate Starfish, The Mountain Goats, David Axelrod, John Barrowman, Liza Minnelli, Jack Klugman and Tony Randall (as "The Odd Couple"), Chimira, Venice, The Feeling, Jann Arden, Janet Jackson (who sampled the song in "Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)", with Simon providing featured vocals), Trey Songz (who sampled from Janet Jackson in his single "About You)," Anna Waronker, Faster Pussycat, Dres, Daryll-Ann, Smokie, Queens of the Stone Age, Sally Seltmann, Asaro and Wolcott, Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, Marilyn Manson (featuring Johnny Depp), and Italian pop star Mina in her 1985 album Finalmente ho conosciuto il conte Dracula....
- Foo Fighters performed the song live at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards in 2008.
- On July 27, 2013, Simon performed "You're So Vain" with Taylor Swift on her Red Tour.
- The song "Starfuckers, Inc." by Nine Inch Nails, released in 2000, references "You're So Vain", by quoting the chorus.
- Supporters of English football team Everton F.C. sang the song to player Leighton Baines at the 2009 football matches.
- On their 2009 album Felony, New York City 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?"
- In the lead-up to the 2016 US presidential election, Simon authorized the use of the song in an ad against Donald Trump.
- In a piece posted by BBC News on May 5, 2017, Simon sings a previously unreleased fourth verse to the song, which she states had been written on a pad some time ago but never made it into the song. It references a man, married multiple times, who "called her once to ask her things she couldn't quite divine".
The song was a number-one hit in the US, Canada and Australia and reached number four in Ireland and South Africa. 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.
"Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul
|US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
January 6, 1973 (three weeks)
"Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
"Clair" by Gilbert O'Sullivan
|Canadian RPM number-one single
January 27, 1973 (1 week)
"Last Song" by Edward Bear
|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|
- List of Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles of 1973
- List of number-one adult contemporary singles of 1973 (U.S.)
- List of number-one singles in Australia during the 1970s
- List of RPM number-one singles of 1973
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-11. Retrieved 2013-11-11.
- 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 2015-11-18.
- "Billboard Hot 100 Chart 50th Anniversary". Billboard.com. 1994-05-21. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- Myers, Justin (2014-08-23). "Official Charts Pop Gem #70: Carly Simon – You're So Vain". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- "Klaus Voormann : Biography". Voormann.com. 1971-08-01. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
- 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 2011-06-14.
- Wadler, Joyce (October 30, 1983). "Carly Simon: Anxiety &". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2015-11-18. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
- Ruhlmann, William. "Carly Simon Biography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
- Backstage Passes
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-10. Retrieved 2007-04-03.
- "Regis & Kelly 2004 – Carly Simon talks about You're So Vain". YouTube. 2012-09-08. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- "'You're So Vain': Carly Simon reveals mystery man". NJ.com. 2010-02-27. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- Roberts, Soraya (2010-02-27). "Carly Simon's new 'You're So Vain' whispers clue". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- Ninette Sosa. "Carly Simon reveals 'You're So Vain' clue". CNN.com. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- "Carly Simon gives away who is 'So Vain'". USA Today. Associated Press. August 5, 2003. Archived from the original on 2015-02-16.
- Ebersol on NBC's Today, August 5, 2003.
- "I’ve heard a million different stories—who was Carly Simon actually singing about in "You’re So Vain"?". Rule Forty Two. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- Stern, Howard (host) (May 20, 2014). Howard Stern Show. Sirius XM Radio.
- 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
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-10-20. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
- 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 2015-11-18. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
- "Carly Simon Reveals Subject of 'You're So Vain'?". Spinner.com. February 26, 2010. Archived from the original on 2013-08-09. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- Kreps, Daniel (March 1, 2010). "Carly Simon Refutes Theory That 'So Vain' Target Is David Geffen". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2015-11-15.
- Weiner, Juli (February 26, 2010). "Update: Everyone Owes David Geffen an Apology". VF Daily. Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on 2010-02-28.
- "Taylor Swift and Carly Simon: You're So Vain". YouTube. 2013-07-29. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "USA – 1970 March 7 Total Solar Eclipse – Interactive Google Map (Full Screen) – Xavier Jubier". Xjubier.free.fr. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- "Canada – 1972 July 10 Total Solar Eclipse – Interactive Google Map (Full Screen) – Xavier Jubier". Xjubier.free.fr. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- Gatto, Kimberly (2011). Saratoga Race Course: The August Place to Be. The History Press. ISBN 978-1609491048.
- "You're So Vain". Carly Simon official website. Archived from the original on 2012-09-11.
- Makarechi, Kia (March 19, 2012). "Johnny Depp, Marilyn Manson Team Up For 'You're So Vain' Cover". HuffPost Entertainment. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
- "Twitter / CarlySimonHQ: Carly Simon and Taylor Swift". Twitter. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "Sportsmail's guide to the best chants of the season starring Cristiano Ronaldo, Dimi Konstantopoulos and Liam Gallagher". Dailymail.co.uk. 2009-06-05. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- Charles, Chris (2009-06-03). "BBC SPORT | Fun and Games | Chants of the season". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- Schultheis, Emily (October 9, 2016). "Carly Simon uses "You're So Vain" in anti-Trump video". CBS News.
- "Carly Simon plays You're So Vain's lost verse". bbc.com. 2017-05-05. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
- Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website – SA Charts 1965 – 1989 Acts (S)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- Jaclyn Ward. "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
- Hung, Steffen. "charts.org.nz - Forum - 1973 Chart (General)". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
- "Carly Simon". The Official Chart Company. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
- Steffen Hung. "Forum – 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- Canada, Library and Archives (July 8, 2017). "Image : RPM Weekly".
- "Top 100 Hits of 1973/Top 100 Songs of 1973". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- "Cash Box YE Pop Singles – 1973". Archived from the original on 2015-01-11. Retrieved 2016-11-09.
- "Top 100 1973 – UK Music Charts". Uk-charts.top-source.info. Retrieved 2016-10-08.