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You’re So Vain

(Carly Simon)

Song written and recorded by Carly Simon that three decades plus after its release in December 1972, continues to titillate its listeners about who exactly the subject of the song was.  Although it has always been a great source of interest as to who the song is actually about, thought by many to be Warren Beatty, Carly Simon released an acoustic version in 2010 for her album Never Been Gone and sang the word “David” backward during the new version.  This caused a new wave of wonderment and  David Geffen was favourited, but has since been denied.  Thers that have been mentioned have been David Cassidy, David Bowie, David Crosby and David Steinberg.

It certainly captured the public’s fancy early, rocketing to #1 on the Billboard Top 100 in January 1973.  The first line was supposedly overheard at a party.  If the song is in part about Mick Jagger, it is ironic that he is singing backing vocals on the track.  Simon was in the midst of recording the song with Harry Nilsson when Mick called and she invited him to come and flesh out the chorus.  When Nilsson heard Jagger and Simon sing together, he politely recused himself from the recording.  “You’re So Vain” assumed the top spot for three weeks and crossed over onto the Adult Contemporary chart, where it ruled for two.  It was Carly’s first #1 and originally appeared on No Secrets, released in November 1972.

The song has been remade several times over by an eclectic crew of artists and groups, including Jann Arden, David Axelrod, John Barrowman, Chimira, Chocolate Starfish, Daryll-Ann, Dres, Faster Pussycat, The Feeling, Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, Liza Minnelli, The Mountain Goats, Smokie, and Anna Waronker.  Janet Jackson sampled it on “Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song is About You)”, on which Simon provided backing vocals.  ” You’re So Vain” went to #3 on the U.K. chart and was re-issued in 1991 to capitalize on a Dunlop Tyres commercial in which it was used.  It has also appeared in the films Dick and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  Apparently, the only other person who knows the secret identities of the song’s subjects is NBC honcho Dick Ebersol, a friend of Simon’s, who won the secret at a charity auction.

Carly Simon recordings
Elektra Records EK-45824-A (US 45)