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You're So Vain by Carly Simon

Album: No SecretsReleased: 1972Charted:
1
3
  • The person Simon is singing about in this song remains a mystery, as she has never made it clear who she wrote it about; rumors include Warren Beatty, Kris Kristofferson, Cat Stevens, and Mick Jagger, all of whom she had affairs with. Carly has been elusive and changed her story a bit when asked the inevitable question about the song (strange considering the album title). In 1974, she told Modern Hi-Fi and Music: "That song is about a lot of people. I mean I can think of a lot of people. The actual examples that I've used in the song are from my imagination, but the stimulus is directly from a couple of different sources. It's not just about one particular person."

    The media and the general public seemed to want this to be about a specific person, however, and Simon was happy to indulge. In a 2008 interview to promote her album This Kind of Love, she said: "When I had the line 'You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you,' that was definitely about one person. The rest of the descriptions basically came from my relationship with that person."
  • Richard Perry, who produced the album, has his own ideas about the song's subject matter. He said in the book The Record Producers: "It's about a compilation of men that Carly had known, but primarily Warren Beatty."
  • Simon started recording this with Harry Nilsson singing backup, but Mick Jagger ended up singing on it instead (listen for him on the "don't you" parts), although he was not credited on the album. When asked how she was able to get him, Simon said: "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 mic 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.'" (thanks, Kain - Charleston, SC)
  • In a 2000 interview with Charlie Rose, Simon explained the origin of this song: "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.
  • Simon came up with the "Clouds in my coffee" line on a cross country flight. She explained the meaning of the phrase, saying: "Clouds In My Coffee are the confusing aspects of life and love. That which you can't see through, and yet seems alluring... until. Like a mirage that turns into a dry patch. Perhaps there is something in the bottom of the coffee cup that you could read if you could (like tea leaves or coffee grinds)."

    The phrase came courtesy of her friend and musical collaborator Billy Mernit, who was sitting next to Simon on the flight. Carly had the window seat, and Mernit noticed the clouds from the window reflecting in her coffee. He said, "look at the clouds in your coffee," and mentioned that it looked like a shot from the 1967 French movie 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. In the film, there's a poignant shot of cream swirling in a cup of coffee. According to Mernit, he and Simon both wrote the line down in their journals, and a few weeks later, Carly called him and asked if she could use it in a song.
  • Glenn A. Walsh, who was Astronomical Observatory Coordinator and a Planetarium Lecturer for Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium, told us:
    There actually is another part of the "You're So Vain" mystery that few people are aware of. Most people think that most lyrics are simply creative. However, one lyric in this song is very curious:

    "Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun."

    When I first heard this lyric in June of 1972, I immediately knew what it meant. I am sure that nearly ANY scientist who heard this lyric in 1972 knew exactly what it referred to!

    In fact, one day in mid-June of 1972, a colleague and I were in the radio station when the record was played. When that particular lyric was heard, he turned to me and said, "that would be nice." I knew he meant that it would be nice to fly to Nova Scotia and see the eclipse the next month.

    There was a total eclipse of the Sun on July 10, 1972 and Nova Scotia would be one of the best places to observe this particular eclipse (see an image of the eclipse).

    Even though Carly Simon wrote the lyric in past-tense, she was really writing about an actual event in the not-too-distant future!

    This brings-up several questions:
    - Did she write the lyric in past-tense because she did not think the record would be released until after the eclipse? Or she did not think it would become popular until after the eclipse?
    - Did this guy tell her about the upcoming eclipse and his plans to see it? Or did she know about the eclipse herself or did some other friend tell her about it as she was writing the lyrics - and she knew this guy would possibly fly to Nova Scotia to see the eclipse?
    - Did this guy actually fly to Nova Scotia to see the eclipse? Or, did the release of this record actually make him decide NOT to fly to Nova Scotia to see the eclipse (AND, was this Carly Simon's purpose in writing the lyric)?

    The mystery continues with these questions!
  • In 2003, Simon held an auction for a charity on Martha's Vineyard where she offered to tell the high bidder who this song is about. The winning bidder was Dick Ebersol, the president of NBC Sports, who paid $50,000. Ebersol had to sign a confidentiality agreement, but was allowed to give one hint - the man's name contains the letter "E." Over the next few years, Simon further revealed that there is also an "A" and an "R" in the name.
  • Simon married James Taylor a month before this was released. She has said that it is definitely not about him.
  • The original title of this song, typed on the acetate demo, was "Ballad of a Vain Man." (thanks, Ron - Milton Keynes, England)
  • When Simon originally penned the song it was more of a folky ballad, but her producer Richard Perry gave it more of a rock edge. She recalled to Uncut Magazine April 2010: "I played it in a much slower tempo, which he raised. I didn't take the song as seriously as all that. It wasn't vengeance - it wasn't Anna Karenina. It was, 'From this point of view, you don't necessarily look as good as you think you look.' There's not an iota of hate in it. There may be much more of an iota of feeling hurt or rejected. I was brought up by a mother who was adamant that you didn't even kiss a man unless you were in love with him. So I was in love with a lot of men! I was definitely a romantic and my hopes were dashed. That led to the song. But I admired all those candidates, for their great artistic sensibility. I was besotted by the lads! Of course, I've never established whether I was attracted to that person. I don't think I would be now."
  • Howard Stern claims that Simon told him who this song is about... but he forgot. As Stern tells it, Simon appeared on his show with Ben Taylor, who is Simon's son with her ex-husband James Taylor. Carly and Ben had an agreement not to talk about James Taylor, which was clearly a source of tension. Howard was able to open a dialogue about the subject, and Simon was so grateful that she whispered the name of the mystery man into Howard's ear, making Howard and Dick Ebersol the only people she has told. According to Howard, he has since forgotten, but he knows it's not David Geffen.
  • In 1976, Simon performed this on Saturday Night Live, but taped her performance about an hour before the show because she got really bad stage fright. Chevy Chase played the cowbell and sang in the background.
  • In February 2010, Simon gave a clue regarding to whom this song is directed, when she told Uncut magazine: "You know what, I'm just going to tell you this. The answer is on the new version of You're So Vain, on my new record Never been Gone. 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 quickly reported that the subject was David Geffen, who ran Simon's Elektra record label at the time of the song's release. They surmised that the song had been inspired by her resentment of the attention Geffen had put into promoting her label-mate Joni Mitchell: In 1973 Mitchell penned "Free Man in Paris" about Geffen.
    However, in an email to Showbiz 411 Simon said that Geffen is not the "David" in question. She wrote: "What a riot! Nothing to do with David Geffen! What a funny mistake! Someone got a clue mistaken for another mistake," adding that she never even knew Geffen in 1971 when the song was written, "How can this guessing game stop without a lie?" she said.
  • The chorus of this song ("You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you; don't you?") is included in the Nine Inch Nails song "Starf---ers, Inc" on The Fragile album. (thanks, Eric - Suffern, NY)
  • In 2001, Simon sang on Janet Jackson's "Son Of A Gun," which was an updated version of this song.
  • One of the more unusual covers of this song is Marilyn Manson's 2012 version, which features the actor Johnny Depp on drums and lead guitar. According to Manson, Depp called him and asked if he would like to record a song. They jammed at Depp's studio and came up with the idea to cover this song, as they both thought it would be ironic.
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Comments: 112

Sorry to disappoint everyone but this song is really about Charles Manson.Don - Nc
Everyone here is wrong. And all the supposed "clues" the writers put forth are just conjecture. Especially the...Coraggio - Rome, Italy
Love it.Emmy - Bellville, On
Well, what I want to say is, I could care less who this song is about. I absolutely love Carly Simon's music, but this isn't even in my top 10 favorites of hers. I never understood what all the fuss was about this tune. I had a high school geometry class at the time this was popular, and the teacher would begrudgingly loan you a protractor if you forgot yours. So we changed the lyrics to fit the class "You walked into the classroom...you gave away the things you loved, and one of them was protractors..."Camille - Toronto, Oh
Carly Simon has admitted that the song is about David Geffen.Mark - Maesteg, United Kingdom
Warren Beatty was from Nova Scotia... but in the other hand, David Cassidy's full name is David Bruce Cassidy... there you have the E, A and R... interesting.Vyero - Mexico City, Mexico
When this song was a current radio hit, a radio station in LA (I think it was KKDJ but I can't remember for sure) had a strange contest in which the winner would win a car. But to win it, they had to guess the location of the car, in terms of how many miles from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco it was parked. The clues given on the air included, "Is is Mick Jagger?" and "Is it James Taylor?" because at that time there was discussion as to who was actually singing on the record. (We now know it was Mick Jagger, but there was some speculation that James Taylor was singing.) The clues about the song were to lead the person to Saratoga. The song mentions the Saratoga horse race track in New York. But Saratoga is also the name of a city in California. The car was parked in front of the city hall in Saratoga, California, 44.5 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. The person who won had guessed that the car was 44.4 miles from the bridge, and they had the closest guess. So they won the car. I cannot remember what the car was though. This is my memory that comes up whenever this song is played.Bob - Bw92116, Ca
It's official - carly announced at nantucket benefit for local hospital_("You're So Vain") this is for Mick Jagger - tell me I"m wrong.S - Oaks Bluff, Ma
I don't know why more people aren't mentioning Carly's cocky, handsome, "too cool" guitarist lover, Daniel Armstrong. Carly was head over heels for him in the late 60's early 70's, and even kept trying to get back with him for years after they broke up. He was all three letters that Carly says are in the name, He dated her for two years, he was her main squeeze right before she wrote the song, and during the total eclipse of the sun.Frankie - New York, Ny
I think it's about Ned Beatty.Gregmon - Intelbuquerque, Nm
Some thoughts... 1. I am pretty sure that Carly is having fun jerking people's chain. I don't mean she is doing it maliciously, just is getting a kick out of something she never suspected would happen. As she has said many times, if she reveals who the man was, then all the magic will go out of it, and it will become just another song, a magnificent one to be sure. So take anything she says about this with a shovel full of salt. 2. It is normal for writers, be they song writers or novelists, to create characters who are an amalgam of several people and throw in some artistic license to boot. There is such a thing as a roman a clef, but I have a feeling that is not one. 3. If it is one, then look for someone who has a Learjet and a pilot's license (John Travolta has/had one but doesn't fit the name clues), and owns a race horse that has run at Saratoga.Richard - Tigard, Or
The word in the song lyrics is "gavotte".
In an interview with Carly Simon on A&E network show, "Private Sessions" by host Lynn Hoffman, Carly explains the line in the song that says, "you had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte."
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1435187/carly_simon_meaning_of_gavotte/
Brad - Scranton, Pa
The bass intro is played by long time Beatles friend Klaus Voormann. I'm not sure who this song is about. I tend to agree with T,Omaha. Anyway it's a great song.Rudy - Krefeld, Germany
- KC, Raleigh, NC and a couple of others are dead on! "The clouds in my coffee" were the reflections of clouds from outside the aircraft where she was on drinking a cup of coffee.
Debbie, Beavercreek, OH
Debra - Beavercreek, Oh
Actually, the song is about me. She had a thing for 11-year-old boys, which I was at the time. I loved racing that horse and flying that Learjet, too. I was quite a wonderkind. Outgrew the hat and apricot scarf soon after, though. The close friends' wives and underworld spies couldn't believe how young I actually was.

Easy to be "vain" when you're such an amazing kid.
Esskayess - Dallas, Tx
I have read somewhere that the background vocals were sung by Mic Jagger together with Paul McCartney!Nikos - Athens, Greece
All the people arguing "go by" vs. "gavotte" are kind of funny. The answer is as simple as going to carly simon's official website and looking at the lyrics.Kim - Newport Beach, Ca
Wife of a close friend. Close friend was Robert Wagner and his wife was Natalie Wood.OH YEAH!Warren!!Don - Rochester, Ny
The song is about Warren Beatty. So stop already with the silly banter. Simon has gotten way too much mileage out of this. It's still a great song though.Mark - Grand Rapids, Mi
Today (2/26/10) Simon revealed that the song was about David Geffen.Rob - Detroit, Mi
The song wa obviously about George BushCharlie - Hanover, Pa
no no no, its about Steven TylerMike - Reading, Pa
Buccaneer Lounge in Northridge, Califoria had this song on the jute box. It was played over and over.Thomas S. Tierney - San Bernardino, Ca
Please click on
http://www.carlysimon.com/vain/vain.html
for a page about the song from Carly Simon's official site.
Jef - Passaic, Nj
Are you kidding me? I thought everybody knew by now that the song was about Arnold Scwharzenegger. That's not a joke. It's about Arnold. A friend of Carly's told me that she had confided in her a long time ago and swore her to secrecy. Sorry Carly, secret's out.Paul - Roanoke, Al
I recall my roommate thinking this song had to be about Mick Jagger. I said, it can't be about Mick because he's singing backup. Of course, my roommate didn't believe me because it is uncredited, but I recognized Mivk's distinct voice. My roommate had to admit I was right. I've always been very proud of that moment and my ability to recognize a singer by voice alone.Guy - Woodinville, Wa
thought this was Hugh Heffner she was referring to .Donna - Mastic Beach, Ny
My uncle worked in one of the intelligence agencies and he said it was about John F Kennedy !Oscar - Seattle, Wa
I believe the song is about Warren Beatty, his Mother is from Nova Scotia and he loves horse racing......just a thought.Susie - Cocoa Beach, Fl
George Harrison played some nice slide guitar solo on this. He had a brief affair with Carly, while his close friend Eric Clapton was trying to seduce his wife Pattie.Virabossa - Valença, Brazil
She has said that it is about more than one man, the main one being Warren Beatty.Cassidy - Nashville, Tn
this song was so cool. the lyrics were fantastic.i really liked this song very much, besides i know alot of guys that are just like this!!!! denise esposito.Denise - Lakeland, Fl
In my novel, 'Soft Target: The Air', I gave one of the characters a hobby (to find Mr. Vain's true identity). After months of archive research, I stumbled upon 11 fascinating clues in the song lyrics that all 'pointed' to a single heretofore unsuspected person. Everything fit perfectly. When you see the clues, you'll have to agree. No one has ever seen these facts before. It's him--guaranteed. America's last entertainment mystery is solved. See joelnarlock.com for more.Joel - Waterford, Wi
My friend worked on the studio production with Carly Simon when the song was recorded.He told me that carly told him on the day of recording that the main subject was Hugh Hefner. Apparently Hefner wanted to buy Carlys' fathers' publishing business. She thought he was the most vain man she had met. It was probably loosely about him.
The reason that Mick Jagger sang on the record was because he and Harry Nillson arrived at the studio but Harry was so drunk he could not sing, so the studio guys grabbed Mick and said, sing. The production guys just wanted to get the job done, get paid, and go home!
Rodney - Melbourne, Australia
Much that artist hate to have their songs "interpreted," this particular song has caused years of "intrigue" about the identity of the main character. I see her lyric as enigmatic as Bernie and Elton's "Daniel" which now since been explained by Bernie as a combination of factual data and "artistic licensure."
Summitted for thought:
Carly, from the very opening bass licks provides a "hint" to the mysterious character with the whispered, "Son of a Gun." At first, I explored it literally at face value meaning of a "bastard son" [look it up]. Dead end! All characters [Beatty, Jagger, Kristofferson] were born in wedlock. I looked deeper into their biographies [I was bored, yet also interested]. It happens Kristofferson was born of a military family [a "Son of a Gun"] his father being an officer. Also, he was born in Texas where a term such as, "Son of a Gun" would be utilized more than in the travels of Beatty or Jagger. Kristofferson also achieved the rank of Captain in the army as a helocopter pilot. To do this, he would have had to obtain his fixed wing pilot's license first [so he would be able to fly a Lear Jet]. In my research, I can find not reference to either Jagger or Beatty being a pilot ["...YOU flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia..."]
While this is a obtuse consideration, I do not believe Carly narrows this song down to just one person, but uses, as other artist do, "artistic license" combining attributes of the three [as applicable] to write an amazing lyric that still is talked and written about. Michael C. Senisch, Bridgeton, NJ
Michael - Brudgeton, Nj
well...I wish Carly happiness, as her songs have many many millions happy. Not bad looking either..remember that album cover? It can sometimes be even harder for the wealthy to find happiness, as all those posessions get in the way...Doug - Kansas City, Mo
For what it's worth Carly mentions Nova Scotia in her song and Warren Beatty's mother was a Nova Scotia born drama teacher.Ron - Baltimore, Md
This song has a lot of sass and smoothness to it. And of course, the Mick Jagger background vocals make it stellarCaitlin - Upper Township, Nj
its about her dadYourefirstname - That1place, Az
What about the reference to Saratoga and the horse, does any one know of any situations that would confirm that part of the song... Mick Jagger or Warren Beatty, Jame Taylor. I think the info about Nova Scotia is pretty compelling, but somehow I just think Warren Beatty is the one, he just seems to fit the description best. Perhaps when she says I bet you think this song is about you, she is meaning that several men could easily think it was about them and be wrong, but proving how vain they all are, as a group. Also, good point about her being the vain one!Diane - Orlando, Fl
Carly actually pronounces saratoga as "Sanatoga" in the song.

As to exactly who the song is about, the lady isn't saying. She has given away cryptic clues that the name contains an "a" and an "e", but that can mean just about anyone listed above. There is a story going around that someone offered to give $50,000 to a charity telethon if carly would tell him who the subject of the song was. He promised not to divulge the answer, and she whispered it in his ear. So, basically, only two people know- or three if you count the individual himself.

My opinion? David Cassidy- too young. Cat Stevens- unlikely, but possible. Warren Beatty- too much of a man-whore at that time. Mick Jagger- probably the most likely.
Garry - Gold Coast, Australia
The song is really about Hugh Heffner!!!...how do i know this? robert@bizlick.comRobert - Melbourne, Australia
I can actually say conclusively it is James Taylor - the trip to Nova Scotia in the lines:
"Then you flew your lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun" -
As stated before was on July 10, 1972 - my family stays regularly and rents a house on the land James Taylor stayed at on the south coast of Nova Scotia (half way from Halifax to Yarmouth) that very day. The land was owned then by Gertrude Taylor - James Taylor's mother. 15 or so years ago, they sold out, and the area was subdivided into 12 exclusive seaside lots, each with about 20 acres of land, and 1000 feet or so of shoreline. Only about 6 or 7 of the lots though, have ever been built on, the one my family stays in being one of those.

James Taylor and Carly Simon were childhood friends, who had met while their respective families would spend summers at Martha's Vineyard, and other Northeastern seaside locations (Carly Simon's father was the founder of Simon and Schuster publishing company -- these were all children of privileged families). Later, they often spent time together at the Taylor's "camp" in Nova Scotia (now the site of this vacation home we rented) as they became more romantically involved (eventually marrying in late 1972). One of those times in Nova Scotia, was to "watch the total eclipse of the sun" - and thus, while sitting on the exact rocky point which serves as the site of the vacation home we rent - was born the inspiration for this song.
Chris - Kingston, On
Hey, did anyone read that book by the female Hollywood producer, who won the Oscar for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The book is called "You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again," and it is simply filled with dirt on so many of the Hollywood players of the 1970's and 1980's. In the book she mentions Warren Beatty quite a bit. She implies that not only is he arrogant, but he thinks he's the "cocksman" of Hollywood. She said he even propositioned her, asking if she and her 15 year old daughter would sleep with him - at the same time! Yea, he's pretty full of it! He was a good-looking guy, no disagreement on that, but what a "VAIN" fellow he is! I agree that this song is about Warren Beatty. Isn't it just like him to wear an apricot scarf???Kate - Marietta, Ga
The irony is the lyric, "you're so vain; you probablty think this song is about you.. don't you?" since the song IS about him, COMPLETELY, & noboddy else!

Silly, but well-sung & an enjoyable melody. . .
Cyberpope - Richmond, Canada
Funny thing is, if one really listens well to the lyrics and knows a little about the singer's history, it is not so difficult to correctly surmise the subject's name. I found this out by asking the man's family and a relative confirmed it.
Jagmar, Oslo, Norway
Jagmar - Oslo, Norway
I really don't care who this song is about, it came out when I was 4 years old. It just a great song, "Clouds in my coffee" ,how can you go wrong with that!Big Ed - Pulaski, Tn
Uh...Leigh....I looked up Dick Ebersol on Wikipedia. He's still alive (although one of his three sons was killed in a plane crash), and none of his sons is named Hank. So I'm not sure where you're getting your information. That much said, it probably is Warren Beatty, although I can picture Jagger gavotting in an apricot scarf.Bob - Pittsburgh, Pa
Finally, from CSI Dartmouth: "wife of a close friend", is wife=Biannca J, close friend = MJ, they were married in May 1971. Song came out in 1972. When you're not you're with = therfore, you're = Warren....who dated Biannca!Mj - Rochester, Ny
Wait a second! Carly Simon was married to Warren Bedi? Was this after she was married to James Taylor? I thought James Taylor was Carly's first husband!Annabelle - Eugene, Or
OK, All, CSI Dartmouth says: it is Warren. How many songs have Nova Scotia in it??? Warren's Mom was born in Nova Scotia. End of Story. MJ, Rochester, NYMj - Rochester, Ny
Lyrics for "Gavotte" or "Go By" is "Go Vaughn", as in Robert Vaughn, actor, heyday of career 1968-1970's, very much the one-eye glancing spy man. But only for the lyrics, Warren Beatty is the guy. Would Mick really make reference to a long term at at that point, and being pretty - has to be Warren. He was the vain Grand Slamming got the eyes working for him ...Mick doesn't work it with his eyes...Mj - Rochester, Ny
I'm with Jay from ATL, this song is about W.B. As for the Mick Jagger claims, this song is called "You're So Vain" not "You're So Rich and Famous." Something to think about...Meave - Santa Rosa, Ca
Chocolate Starfish's version only got to No.17 in OzNunzio - Darwin, Australia
Australian band, Chocolate Starfish did a cover version which made it to NUmber 1Dylan Kimberlin - Melbourne,australia, Australia
So, all of the sudden Trivial Pursuit cards are not only the foremost authority on rock, but they're infalable as well. The song is about Warren Beatty (whom Carly was married to. Mick Jagger sang back-up.Jay - Atlanta, Ga
"Gavotte" would make sense, since it rhymes with the line, "You were walking onto a yacht."Annabelle - Eugene, Or
If the titular you is a composite, rather than any specific man, then the "You probably think this song is about you" line might make a little more sense. It could then be interpreted as a jab at anyone vain enough to think the song was, well, about them.
After hearing an interview with Carly Simon recently, I don't think one should necessarily read all that much into the lyrics.
Overall, I really don't care all that much what or who the song is about, it's a cool song.
Fred - Roseford, In
What are you talking about Cynthia from Ottawa. I'm looking at the card from the Original Trival Pursuit Genus Edition. It has the answer as Mick Jagger. Better get your facts straight ayy.
-Brian, Sayville, NY
Brian - Sayville, Ny
i think all of you are wrong. the song just be what it is just a song. not about anyone in particular. maybe all the rumors about who its about was just created to boost record sales. much like the beatles when paul was said to have been dead. and like pink floyds album and the wizard of oz. all i know is that its a good song and thats all that counts anyway.Rick - Wichita Falls, Tx
Well what source is that frances, ny, NY.Jon - Oakridge, Or
Great comments about Jagger, and yes, he does seem foppish, vain, and the type who used Lear jets in '72. However, you're vastly underestimating Beatty's starpower and finances, especially in that era. Beatty not only starred in, but produced "Bonnie and Clyde," one of the top grossers of the '60's. He was said to have cleared $10 million from that, which is obscene money for the late 60's. So he definately travelled in the same circles as Mick (indeed, they were friends),and could afford private jets. In fact, about the only folks casually using Lear jets in those days were rock stars and Hollywood players...and since Beatty was on the cover of TIME in '77, under the headline "Mr. Hollywood," I'd say he certainly qualified as a Hollywood player. He was also much more political than Mick (was a key worker in McGovern's '72 Presidential campaign, was seriously discussed as a possible Congressional candidate, did "Bulworth," etc.), so those references, as well as the spy jabs, could easilt have been about him. Finally, Beatty was more known for having short, intense relationships with his stable of starlets, as opposed to Mick, who was more of a travelling, touring, one-night-stand kind of guy. In fact, he was newly married to Bianca at about the time this song was gestating, so it would've been profoundly difficult for him to carry on an long affair with another celebrity. Beatty? Single, and a world famous cad. I think it's Beatty.Herb - Nashville, Tn
I like the idea that this song is about several of her lovers. It doesnt have to be about just one person. Also, reffering to the line "Clouds in me Coffee", The clouds are her eyes, the tears and raindrops, and just as raindrops are clouds, her tears are the clouds that fell into her Coffee.Shane - St. Charles, Mo
In the liner notes of her boxed set, CLOUDS IN MY COFFEE, Carly states the line "clouds in my coffee" came from when Carly was on an airplane sitting by the window, and the reflection of the clouds were there in her coffee.Kc - Raleigh, Nc
After reading all of the comments above I had to register and throw in my two cents. I am not only a HUGE Stones fan, but a fan of Mick Jagger as well. Personally, I think this song fits Mick Jagger dead on. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Though Warren Beatty was famous back then, would he have been flying around the world on a private lear jet? That is a different class of fame and money and I am just not convinced Warren was in that league. Maybe so, but MJ definitely would have been - especially around this period (the '72 tour). Mick is the consumate Jet Setter.

2. Anyone who has ever seen MJ in interviews, videos, movies, etc. know exactly how he carries himself - prancing, govatting - and he would definitely be seen wearing an Apricot scarf! Though in this case the same could be said of Warren.

3. Did anyone notice the lyric "pretty pair"? Now, go back to the 1973 Stones album Goats Head Soup and listen to Star Star - about someone in hollywood who sleeps with everyone. He says "You and me made such a pretty pair, falling through the silver screen." Keeping in mind that songs are recorded well prior to the release date this matches up perfectly. It is very possible that she heard a cut of Star Star before penning her song. Perhaps this was a catalyst for her to write YSV.

4. All of the references to horses, underworld spies, etc. in my mind pinpoint MJ. Again, he definitely travels in a Jet Set world that is leagues beyond Warren Beatty and many of his songs speak of subjects such as politics, bombs, etc. I can definitely see him bragging about hanging with those types of people - whereas I can't see Warren Beatty in that position.

I am curious to see comments on this as I have thought this for years.
Robert - Florham Park, Nj
By process of elimination: Kristofferson, far from coming off as "vain," is one of the more humble celebrities around, a craggy Texan who would never wear an apricot scarf and do a gavotte. The Jagger rumor obviously got erroneously started because he sings the back-up vocals. David Cassidy or Cat Stevens? Neither fit the profile, nor the timeline. (Cassidy has no "E" in his name, either.) Carly has specifically said that it's not about James Taylor. That leaves Warren Beatty. About 90% of rumors about this song have mentioned him as the vain guy, and he fits the profile to a T.
That would be my guess.
Garrett - Nashville, Tn
Some interesting theories as to the subject of this great song.

I have to disagree with some conclusions, however.

Some of you feel that the subject was Carly's lover during the eclipse of 1972. A closer look at the song lyrics shows that this isn't true.

In an earlier verse she sings:

"You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive"

and the verse that refers to the eclipse beging with:

"I HEAR you went up to Sartoga...."

So it seems obvious to me that she had moved on by the time the eclipse happened.

That said, I'm in the Warren Beatty camp on this one. I wonder if we will ever know the truth?
Brian - Yellowknife, Canada
By the way the word "gullible" is not in the Encarta dictionary either. It must not be a very comprehesive resource guide.Jay - Atlanta, Ga
It's "Gavotte" and it's about Warren Beatty. Nuff said. Next song.Jay - Atlanta, Ga
In the beginning of this song, after a little riff of bass strums, if you listen carefully, you can hear someone softly whisper, "Son Of a Gun!" Is that whisper Carly Simon?Annabelle - Eugene, Or
Whilst "Gavotte" may not appear in the song, I can clear up that, although (as Bobbie stated) it doesn't appear in Encarta, it is in fact a French folk dance. I would invite anyone with the appropriate Eduserv-Athens login to visit http://www.grovemusic.com to read more on an interesting (if irrelevant) historical point!Andrew - Glasgow, Scotland
"Gavotte" if you use the Encarta dictionary for the definition of this word you get "No matches found" where the lyrics on this page came from is beyond me but in high school choir class the sheet music we had read "You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself GO BY"Bobbie - Central, Nm
There is something interesting about this song and the identity of the man Carly Simon slept with. There is a long list of possible men she slept with (Beatty, Kristoperson, Jagger, etc.)all of which are famous. But, isn't it also vain to sleep with as many celebrities as possible, then brag about it?Nathan - Defiance, Oh
Oh by the way, some people were asking what the word gavotte was ... it's a dance. It's like instead of slidding your feet you step up ... it's fast and quite cocky.Zoey - Athens , Al
My mother always told me it was about Warren Beatty and so of course after I watched Splinder in the Grass, I was just sure it WAS about him. What can I say ... I was young. I had no idea of the time frame. lol But Beatty just seems so vain and cute and full of himself. But he had a reason ... gah, he was too beautiful!Zoey - Athens , Al
My mom always told me it was about James Taylor but I guess notAshley Jade - Cleveland, Ga
I agree on the date - July 10, 1972 - which one of Warren Beatty, Kris Kristofferson, Cat Stevens or Mick Jagger has a Lear Jet at this time?Marcus - Austria, Austria
What does "as you watched yourself 'gavotte' " mean? Always sounded like "go by" to me. I heard Carly in an interview once say she likes to take phrases she hears that are catchy and put them together. Not necessarily connected. She said something about hearing a line at a party "You look like you walked off of a wedding cake". I thought she meant this song... guess not. I think I remembr her saying something about the yacht as well.Kris - Nor Cal, Ca
Well, yeah, but maybe someone else wrote it for her. It's like that girl JoJo and her song Leave. She didn't write it, some else did, but it is her experience.Gretchen - San Antonio, Tx
Who knows who it is about but I did hear a radio DJ once say that the song was about the character James Bond. ThanksMatthew - Tampa, Fl
Super Session Guitarist "Big Jim Sullivan" on guitar.Alan - Durham City, England
As a kid I remember hearing this song often, but never really understood it til I got older. I'm not sure if it matters who it's in reference to, but, I feel that someday we may know. Anyway, it's a classic and represents that sound from the 70's so well.Dee - Indianapolis, In
I received a Gold Record for "You're So Vain," not that it was too hard to predict a song by Carly Simon backed up by Mick would be a hit! Anyway, we were always told it was about Warren Beatty. It makes perfect sense, and only became a big mystery as Carly decided to play coy with the identity. It's the only Number One song (probably the ONLY song) to include the word "gavotte." --Eric ChaseEric - Houston, Tx
Carly Simon wrote this song about me..........I wanted to keep it a mystery but the suspense is killing me.......So now you know

theevolution4285@aol.com
James Wells - Queens, Ny
When I was a kid, I thought the lyrics said "I had some dreams that there were clowns in my coffee."Eric - Nyc, Ny
Carley sez to herself, "I am going to write strange lyrics,like the Beatles & Don Mc Lean did so that people long after I am dead will debate & hyper analyse till the cows come home or stay homeless or helpess or... what evaaaah!Steve - Salt Lake City, Ut
"you probably think this song is about you"...
isn't it about him? that doesn't make sense, but it is a great song, and hats off to carly simon!
Jackie - Chicago, Il
don't worry about writing to Patick..i did still wouldn't tell you ...then again he probably doesn't know...do you Patrick????Pete - Nowra, Australia
it´s not "clouds in my coffee" but "klaus in my coffee", dedicated to klaus voormann (as he told me once and spreads this in german talkshows)Casino - Cologne, Germany
Not about Mick Jagger. He sings back up vocals. Close to the end you can really tell its him because his voice comes out really well.Gayla - Houston, Tx
Well, my grandmother told me that "clouds in my coffee" referred to her tears, as in she was crying and her tears fell into her coffee. Basically forshadowing the end of her relationship with her love. I suppose this may be correct, after all, she was dreaming. I don't think she'd be dreaming of adding creamer to her coffee, that's not very significant. Maybe she was dreaming that she would be crying over her love that is so vain. Just a thought...Bianca - Milwaukee, Wi
Sorry to burst everyone's bubble, however, on Simon's cd's she's not even credited with writing this song. Therefore, how can she know who it's about? Comments?....Mike - Fort Worth, Tx
i think "clouds in my coffee" refers to steam rising from a cup of hot coffee. she means that all dreams and wishes of having a long and successful relationship she had developed in her mind were so unstable and obscure(just like the steam above coffee cup) and she lost all of them immediately(again just like the steam that disapears quickly).

anyways, cool song. worth making a movie on its story. lol
Amir Fekrazad - Tehran, Iran
well i think that the whole clouds in my coffee line is a metaphor meaning that carly simon thought that it was a bad patch or bad time "cloudy time" that they were going through in the relationship and that soon it would clear, because she then says: but you're so vain) as in she realized that he is so vain and this cloudy time wasnt gunna clear between them in their relationship... just a thoughtLaura - Melbourne, Australia
this song always got me a little upset ever since i first heard it when i was a kid in the backseat of a car on a family roadtrip waking up from a nap. "you're so vain... you probably think this song is about you, don't you, don't you?" well obviously the song IS about him, whoever he is, and you're just feeding his ego by creating a huge hit about him...right? well, anyways, its a pretty cool songNatasha - Chico, Ca
look sorry to dissappoint everyone but its actually about....John Astin the guy who played Gomez in the Addams Family tv seriesPete - Nowra, Australia
"You're so Vain" had me thinking and thinking everyday about who Ms Simon wrote this song about. I knew the words by heart after listening to it over and over again, until, one day the answer surfaced. By the way, it's not Warren Beatty.

Patrick
pagalley@hotmail.com
Patrick - Kingston/jamaica, United States
I finally now know who "You're so Vain" is about. It will be a good surprise. Maybe I will tell you, or maybe not - because it's such an intriguing mystery - Write me at pagalley@hotmail.com and maybe I will tell you.Patrick - Kingston/jamaica, United States
Ok, the line "I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee" came to her when she was riding in a plane and just looked out the window. She was also having coffee at the time and just put the two together. Simple.Cliff - Burkesville, Ky
Okay, sadie, CLouds in my coffee probably refers to cream. when it mixes with coffee, you get cloudy looking images, and if your daydreaming, they apear to be images of what you want. and the correct ephasis in the line is Where YOU SHOULD BE ALL THE TIME, but, when you're not-
i.e., you are where you belong, with me,but when you aren't,...
Thomas - St. Charles, Mo
I think it's about Boy GeorgePete - Nowra, Australia
its about warren beaty.my distant relative was hank ebersol,dick's son.he told his son before he saddly past away.and to b honest im not surprised cos warren thinks the sun shine out of his own assLeigh - Stockton, England
Umm, okay. Has anybody ever wondered what, "I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee." Means? I may sound dense here, but what does that mean?!?! My friend Jennifer thought it was grounds in my coffee, but it isn't. So I really don't care WHO this song is about. I just want to know WHAT the crap that means. Plus, she sort of says some other wierd stuff, like, "When you're where you should be all the time, but when you're not you're with..." Now, wait. You just said he is ALL THE TIME, now you're saying BUT WHEN HE'S NOT?!?!? What? This song doesn't make much sense to me, but if everyone is so concerned about WHO it's about and not the fact that some things are a little funny in it, well, then call me Sadie.Brittanie - Liverpool, England
Maybe its about a little of each of the men she dated. Kind of a collage of different experiences with each one. I mean pretty much every guy that has ever been mentioned as possibly being "the one" she wrote it about is vain in some way.T - Omaha, Ne
She states that he "had her several years ago" so it was obviously before 1972.Shirley - Ocean, Nj
Cynthia in Ottawa, I was playing that game last week and the card read that it was Warren Beatty.Jeff - Philly Area, Pa
I've heard from a VERY GOOD SOURCE it is about David CassidyFrances - Ny, Ny
According to the board game Trivial Pursuit (original Genus edition) the song is about Henry Fonda. Don't know where they got that from, mind you...Cynthia - Ottawa, Canada
The line "You flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun" refers to the solar eclipse of July 10, 1972. As it turned out, the view was rather disappointing in Nova Scotia. A much better view of the eclipse was had aboard the Greek Line ship Olympia, which hosted a cruise called "Eclipse '72 - Voyage to Darkness". Now if anyone knows who Carly Simon was seeing in early to mid July 1972, you'll have your answer as to who this is about. :-)Tim - Hendersonville, Tn
nine inch nails used a sample of this in their song "starf--kers inc." great band, great songEsther - Liverpool, England
It sounds like it's about Warren Beatty. But that's just my opinion.Cadence - Sacramento, Ca
Carly Simon sings " So I hear you went up to Saratoga, and your horse natrually won"....THATS MY TOWN.Chet - Saratoga Springs, Ny