Carly Simon has finally confirmed what you’ve probably long suspected about her 1972 hit song “You’re So Vain.” You probably think this song is about Warren Beatty, don’t you? Well, you’re right. Sort of.
As People reports, 70-year-old Carly Simon finally reveals that answer to the question of whether or not “You’re So Vain” is about Warren Beatty in her upcoming memoir, Boys in the Trees. And the answer is, yes indeed, the song is about Warren Beatty. At least, the second verse is.
“I have confirmed that the second verse is Warren.”
For four decades, Carly Simon has artfully dodged speculation about just whom “You’re So Vain” is about, but almost from the get-go, Warren Beatty’s name came up in discussions. Other men, who Carly has confirmed the song is not about, include Mick Jagger and ex-husband James Taylor.
Unfortunately, Carly isn’t divulging whom the enigmatic first and third verses are about. But the second verse is definitely about Beatty.
“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…”
Carly also confirms that Warren Beatty is so, um, vain, that to this day he thinks the song is about him (doesn’t he?).
“Warren thinks the whole thing is about him!”
It’s not, insists Carly. And she’s not going to reveal the other men that inspired the song — at least not publicly, and at least not until she’s revealed her inspiration to the men themselves.
“Probably, if we were sitting over at dinner and I said: ‘remember that time you walked into the party and… I don’t know if I’ll do it. I never thought I would admit that it was more than one person!”
Even before hitting No. 1 with “You’re So Vain,” Carly Simon was already a successful recording artist in the early 1970s, thanks to the Top 10 hits “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” and “Anticipation.” By the time she released “You’re So Vain,” Carly had been married to James Taylor and had romantic relationships with Cat Stevens, Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson, Jack Nicholson, and several others.
Carly Simon occupies a spot on a long list of songwriters who have written songs with enigmatic lyrics and then been evasive or even contradictory about what those lyrics mean. Another early 1970s hit, Don McLean’s “American Pie,” is similarly inscrutable.
Although some of the lyrics have been interpreted to the refer to the deaths of Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Janis Joplin (“I knew a girl who sang the blues”), songwriter Don McLean refuses to confirm, deny, or otherwise explain anything to this day.
“[The lyrics] are beyond analysis. They’re poetry.”
And like Carly’s “You’re So Vain,” another song with vague lyrics about a relationship gone bad is Alanis Morissette’s 1995 hit “You Oughta Know.” Full House star Dave Coulier thinks it’s about him, although Alanis, to this day, insists that she’ll never tell.
“With all due respect to whoever may see themselves in my songs, and it happens all the time, I never really comment on it because I write these songs for myself, not other people.”
Needless to say, writing confusing lyrics that get the public speculating about what they mean can be a way to make a successful song.
Do you believe Carly Simon’s claim that “You’re So Vain” is about Warren Beatty, or is she just stringing fans along for the laughs?
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images, Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images]