You’re So Vain was a top hit for Carly Simon in 1973. It was released in December 1972 and was immediately one of those songs that sets off speculation: who is it about? Once the gossip mill was set in motion, there were people who “knew” it was about James Taylor, her ex-husband. Some said her lover, Warren Beatty, while others swore it was Mick Jagger. I was leaning toward Warren myself, and over the years, Carly leaked a little info here and a little info there. James Taylor was immediately eliminated as a possible subject by Carly.
Ten years later, in 1983, Carly decided to tell the Washington Post that it was not about famous Rolling Stone stud, Mick Jagger either. I was feeling a little smug in 1989 (I love when I guess right especially when bets are involved), when Carly copped to it being a little about Warren Beatty, who had always thought it was about him too.
There’s a whole page devoted to the songs and the various revelations on Carly Simon’s Official Website.
At long last, the secret was believed to have been revealed on Feb 26, 2010. It was about record executive, David Geffen. According to Mark and Brian, two hosts of the LA morning show on KLOS, Carly whispers “David” backwards on the record. Her dissatisfaction with Geffen was alleged to have stemmed from a bit of jealousy over the record executive paying more attention to label-mate, Joni Mitchell. This information was in Wikipedia on the page for You’re So Vain, and also on David Geffen’s page, but as soon as it was learned that Ms. Simon was at Elektra records in 1972, and not Asylum (as reported in Everyone Owes David Geffen an Apology by Vanity Fair), it was taken down. Boy, are they fast at Wikipedia or what?
David Geffen is a well-known record executive, film and theatrical producer who has signed and worked with such artists as Jackson Browne, The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan on Asylum Record and,later, Donna Summer and John Lennon on Geffen. Geffen also signed up artists like Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana. When I first heard about it seemed that Carly’s husband, Jim Hart, was telling a bit of a whopper when he said in 2005 that You’re So Vain wasn’t about anyone famous. Maybe it’s true, then. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if Carly is going to clear up whose scarf was apricot once and for all.
UPDATE: You can always check on a prior version of a page in Wikipedia on the history tab and there were a flurry of edits on the song page and David Geffen’s page on February 26, 2010. On February 27, Carly’s husband denied the song was about Geffen, but as of Feb. 28, some people are still reporting it was David Geffen. Edits were made to the You’re So Vain Wikipedia page to list the possible song subjects in better order, and when you look at the clue that the subject’s name contains the letters A, E and R, David Geffen would be out anyway unless his middle name, Lawrence, is included. Likewise David Bowie, whose middle name is Robert. We have to go to Mick Jagger’s proper name, Michael, and include his last name to get A, E and R. Only Warren Beatty has all 3 letters in his name — his middle name, that is. Warren’s real first name is Henry. My first name has all the letters, but I can assure you, it’s not about me since the song is about an ex-lover who left Carly and I’m not gay or bisexual, I never owned a Lear Jet and I don’t even know Carly Simon. Sheldon, an attorney I used to work with, did tell me how he met her in Cape Cod one summer and was invited to her home. That was years after the song’s release so it’s not about him either.
The guessing game of who it was about wasn’t the only fun I ever got out of the song. At the height of its popularity, I was living in Vermont at my grandmother’s and used to get quite a kick out of hearing my little brother sing it. He was raised in Vermont and had a New England accent, so he would sing: “clouds in my cahfee.” I was raised in NJ and my own dreams were “clouds in my cawfee.”
Wikipedia: You’re So Vain
Wikipedia: David Geffen