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Y o u ' r e..S o.. V a i n

So Carly, just who is 'You're So Vain' about?


In January of 1973, You're So Vain was the # 1 hit song on the radio. Carly had just married fellow pop-superstar James Taylor a month before, so when You're So Vain hit the airwaves, it stirred intense curiosity about which one of her previous lovers was the subject of this wry nod to the male ego. click here to read the lyrics

Was it Mick Jagger? Cat Stevens? Warren Beatty? Kris Kristofferson? It was common knowledge that she had been involved with each of them in the past.

Carly has never revealed who she had in mind when she wrote You're So Vain, and over 35 years later, interviewers are still asking her this same question........


Rolling Stone - 1973

RS: Some people think "You're So Vain" is about James.

Carly: No, it's definitely not about James, although James suspected that it might be about him because he's very vain. No, he isn't, but he had the unfortunate experience of taking a jet up to Nova Scotia after I’d written the song. He was saved by the fact that it wasn’t a Lear.

RS: You mentioned the "contest" going on about who it's about. What would be the clearest statement you would want to make on who the song was about?

Carly: The contest is run by this man in Los Angeles named Winkler, and he had his listeners call in to cast their ballot as to who they thought the song was about. Kris Kristofferson is leading.

A lot of people think it's about Mick Jagger and that I have fooled him into actually singing on it, that I pulled that ruse. And some of the people think it's about James. But I can't possibly tell who it's about because it wouldn't be fair.


The Washington Post - 1983

WP: Who was ‘You’re So Vain about? Mick Jagger?

Carly: No.

WP: Warren Beatty?

Carly: It certainly sounds like it was about Warren Beatty. He certainly thought it was about him - he called me and said thanks for the song….

WP: You had gone with him?

Carly: Hasn’t everybody?

WP: No.

Carly: That only means you haven’t met him, though at the time I met him he was still relatively undiscovered as a Don Juan. I felt I was one among thousands at that point – it hadn’t reached, you know, the populations of small countries….

FAME - 1989

For the record, Simon acknowledges the song is a little about Beatty; it's a composite of three men from her L.A. days. Warren, it seems, was not a particularly good boyfriend.

"And I never took him seriously," she says. "He was great fun and very, very, bright. But noooo ... as a boyfriend.

A lot of women like somebody who's that smooth. In the beginning Warren was pretty good at pretending he was only smooth on the outside and a bowl of jelly on the inside. But he doesn't do that secondary act very well now." Carly Simon


VH1 - One to One - 1990

"People have been questioning for a long time, who it's about - I mean, who I wrote the song about.

It always strikes me as funny. That people would be THAT into what I was thinking about, that's the greatest ego trip anybody could have....that they would be THAT interested in what you were thinking about when you wrote a song.

And for that very reason, of course, I can never give it away." Carly Simon

Phil Donahue - 1990

An audience member asks Carly: Was You're So Vain about Warren Beatty? And did Mick Jagger sing vocals on that?

Carly: I've never, ever told who You're So Vain is about. But I will tell you since you're so very pretty in that pink's about the young Oprah Winfrey.

Primetime Live - 1990

Diane Sawyer: You're So Vain is about...we've heard Mick Jagger and Warren Beatty.

Carly: Who cares, I can't believe people care, you know? It was a riddle a long time ago and it's best, as all those riddles are, it's best unsolved.

NBC Interview - 1994

Bob Costas : Carl Bernstein told me once that he had sealed the identity of Deep Throat in some sort of envelope and I guess he stuck it beneath a tree someplace deep in the forest with instructions on how to find it - to be opened 50 years after his death. And only then the identity of Deep Throat could be revealed.

Carly: I have right here. (reaching into her pocket)

Bob Costas : Have you done the same thing with the identity of the person you're mocking in You're So Vain?

Carly: Well, you know people have always asked me this. I don't know why people are so interested in that. I suppose it was at a time in my life in which I was garnering a great deal of sort of tabloid press - in terms of who I was going out with. It's the kind of thing that if I actually tell, it'll lose the whole mystique. What's the point of telling? Why bother to tell?

Bob Costas : Is it a person or a composite of people?

Carly: It was a dog actually. Yes, it was a person!

Bob Costas : No, I mean a single person. I wasn't suggesting it was outside of humankind. (laughing). Was it a single person or a composite of objectionable traits in a variety of people?

Carly: Hardly objectionable! I think it's a very attractive man. I think it's a very complicated man who is obviously concerned with his image, but obviously worthy of my love or my interest. I don't LOVE just anyone. You know, he's gotta have a certain amount of character. If he was only vain it would be boring, but there's a lot more to him. He hobknobs with the underworld.

This Morning - 1995

Mark McEwen: How did you get Mick Jagger to sing on You're So Vain?

Carly: I guess it was kind of chance in a way. I was in London, it was 1972 and he happened to call at the studio while I was doing the background vocals with Harry Nilsson. Mick said "Hey, what cha doin'?" and I said "We're doing some backup vocals on a song of mine....why don't you come down and sing with us?"

So Mick and Harry and I stood around the mike singing you're so vain and Harry was such a gentleman - he knew the chemistry was between me and Mick; in terms of the singing, so he sort of bowed out saying "The two of you have a real blend - you should do it yourselves."

And that's how it happened.

MM: So, who is You're So Vain about?

Carly: I don't know.

MM: We've heard it was Warren Beatty. It was Mick Jagger. But you've never really said who it was.

Carly: Yeah.


Charlie Rose - May 2000

CR: Tell us about You're So Vain

Carly: Well, there was originally a song that had the melody of what is now You're So Vain, called Bless You Ben. It went "Bless you Ben, you came in, where nobody else left off.....There I was, by myself, hiding up in my loft"....

It never went anywhere, I could never fall in love with it. And then I was at a party and somebody walked in and my friend said to me "Doesn't he look like he's just walked on to a yacht?". So, I thought to myself - hmmm, let me write that in my notebook.

And then one day, when I was playing Bless You Ben on the piano, I substituted "You walked into the party, like you were walking onto a yacht" and the exchange was equal. And it felt natural and it felt good and then I could get into that man, I knew who I was talking about.

CR: Warren Beatty?
Carly: Well.....not at all.
CR: Not at all?
Carly: Well, maybe a little bit.
CR: Was it one man? Was it Warren or was it a composite for you?
Carly: Most songs are a composite....most songs are.
CR: Was this one?

Carly: I don't know.

Pure Oxygen - 2000

PO: Warren Beatty or Mick Jagger?

Carly: Neither

PO: You're kidding me?

Carly: I may be kidding you.

PO: You won't tell?

Carly: No, I won't tell.....well, it's certainly not, not about Warren.


"You're So Vain was just a series of lines in a notebook for a long time. There was You're so vain you probably think this song is about you and You walked into a party like you were walking onto a yacht. And then one day I figured out 'Hey, these two could be about the same person.'" Carly Simon

Sunday Morning - 2001

Rita Braver: Everyone thinks You're So Vain is about Mick Jagger.

Carly: Oh, they don't really think that.

RB: Yes - they do.

Carly: Okay.

RB: Is it?

Carly: Oh, no, no, no.

RB: And then I read it might be about Warren Beatty?

Carly: Oh, you know, don't listen to what other people tell you.

RB: Well, do you want to solve that mystery for me?

Carly: You know, I could never really solve it because if I did, then no one would have anything to talk to me about.

on Janet Jackson's song Son Of A Gun - 2001

"The apricot scarf was worn by Nick....there's nothing in the words that refer to Mick" Carly sings

Possible Dreams Auction - 2003

Carly's participation in this year's charity auction created an intense media buzz when she offered to reveal the identity of the person(s) she had in mind when she penned the song "You're So Vain" to the highest bidder, but only after they agreed to abide by a confidentiality agreement.

Shortly after this news was printed in People magazine, the Associated Press picked up the story and newspapers, television and radio shows around the world immediately followed.

The news scrollers on all the major cable networks began carrying Carly's name across the bottom of the television screen. conducted a viewer's poll where Beatty's name earned 54% of the vote. Matt Lauer reviewed the list of usual suspects with Anthony DeCurtis (of Rolling Stone magazine) on The Today Show. Roger Friedman of Fox News went on record with his firm opinion that song was about Warren Beatty. The BBC's Up All Night radio show interviewed Carly fans live from the US to get their opinion on who the song was written about and why this mystery has such long lasting appeal.

Possible Dreams Auction 2003 - Photo courtesy of The Vineyard GazetteOn August 4th, the gavel cracked at $50,000 for Carly's "Dream Secret". The winner (Dick Ebersol - an NBC executive) and nine of his friends will join Carly at her home in a few weeks, at which time she will sing You're So Vain while her guests enjoy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and vodka on the rocks. At midnight, Mr. Ebersol alone will learn Carly's closely guarded secret.

"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." Dick Ebersol on NBC's Today Show - Aug. 5th, 2003

CNN - People In The News - 2004

Paula Zahn : Long ago, you once admitted that it could potentially be a composite of a number of men that were dear to you in your life. Whether that be Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty or maybe even a little bit of James Taylor in there?

Carly: Well, I guess for those who are interested in clues - the name of the person it was about had an "E" in it.

PZ: Oh, well thank you...that's very helpful Carly. That could be Mick, Warren or James. We still have the same three in the pot.

Carly: Maybe I could disclose another letter. OK, it also has an "A".

PZ: (Laughter) Ok, we'll be asking you about this for the next thirty years.

Carly: Well listen, two vowels ain't bad!

Regis & Kelly - 2004

Regis : Isnt' it time for you to tell the world - who's the guy you're singing about? Is it Warren Beatty? Is it Mick Jagger? Or is it me? Tell us!

Carly: If I tell it, it's going to come out in dribs and drabs. And I've given out two letters already, and "A" and an "E". But I'm going to add one to it. I'm going to add an "R", in honor of you.



USA Today - June, 2005

"It's about Mark Felt!" Simon, 59, joked by phone Wednesday from her home in Martha's Vineyard, referring to the former FBI official who has said he was Deep Throat. You're So Vain was a No. 1 hit in January 1973, six months after the Watergate break-in that led to President Nixon's downfall.

But unlike the Watergate principals, Simon says she'll never reveal the answer, not even when she or the song's subject dies. "I don't see why I ever would. What would it advance? I wrote that song in the days when people kept confidences to themselves, whereas now, people expose them so easily and readily for the benefit of their next movie sale."

She finds it "bizarre" that fans are still speculating about her lyrics three decades later. "If people knew who it was to begin with, it might not have become a hit."


    Ellen Degeneres Show - May, 2008

    Ellen tries to get Carly to admit who You're So Vain is about.

    Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs - July, 2008

    You're So Vain is listed at number 72, on Billboard's definitive list of the Hot 100's top 100 songs from the chart's first 50 years, August 1958 through July 2008.

    One of the biggest enigmas in popular music, this track also carries one of the most famous refrains: "You're so vain/I bet you think this song is about you." Simon has never publicly admitted who the song is about. Regardless, it was a huge hit, spending three weeks at No. 1 in January 1973.

    • The Lyrics

    You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht
    Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
    Your scarf it was apricot
    You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte
    And all the girls dreamed that they'd be your partner
    They'd be your partner, and....

    You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you
    You're so vain, I'll bet you think this song is about you
    Don't you? Don't you?

    You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
    Well you said that we made such a pretty pair
    and that you would never leave

    But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me
    I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee and....

    You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you.....

    Well I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won
    Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun
    Well, you're where you should be all of the time
    And when you're not you're with
    Some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend
    Wife of a close friend, and....

    You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you.....


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