October 17, 2022

The Decades-Long Mystery of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”

Legendary singer-songwriter Carly Simon wrote her hit song “You’re So Vain” in 1971, released it in 1972, and the rest was history.

Since its release, people have been speculating on which among Simon’s ex-lovers the song was about: Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, Kris Kristofferson, Jack Nicholson, or Cat Stevens? The answer was only confirmed in 2015, 43 years after the song was released, but somehow, the mystery still remains.

Early Clues

From 1983 to 2001, Carly Simon made it clear that it was not about Mick Jagger, who even contributed uncredited backup vocals to the song.

Later on in 2003, at the Martha’s Vineyard Possible Dreams charity auction, Simon revealed the name of who the song was about to the highest bidder, Dick Ebersol. With a total bid of $50,000, Ebersol won under one condition: he was not allowed to reveal the name. He was, though, allowed to give a clue, and he said that there was an “A” in the name of the person. In just over a year, Simon herself gave more clues: there is also an “E” and “R” in the name.

Is it Warren Beatty?

Beatty ironically claimed in a 2007 interview that “You’re So Vain” was a song about him. In 1983, Simon also said that Beatty was certain that the song was about him, saying that he called her to thank her for the song.

After almost another decade, in 2015, Simon finally confirmed that the second verse of the song was indeed about Warren Beatty. But here’s the catch: Simon added that this still does not mean that the other two verses were also about Beatty, she just confirmed that the second one was.

The “Lost” Fourth Verse

And just when we think that we’re getting closer to the answers, Simon drops yet again another mystery – the lost fourth verse of the song. In an exclusive BBC documentary, Simon performed a fourth verse to her song “You’re So Vain,” stating that she wrote it, but it never made it into the song. This fourth verse may have given us more clues, or it may have just given us another mystery to think about.

Up to this date, only a few people know the real identity of the subject/s of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”: Dick Ebersol, Howard Stern, Taylor Swift, and a few more of her close friends. This goes to show that Simon not only knows how to give us a hit song, but she certainly also knows how to leave us wanting for more.

Listen to Simon’s performance of “You’re So Vain” in the video below.


Carly Simon

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