"You're So Vain" mystery revealed?

Carly Simon finally says who thought correctly that the song was about him, and it's ... Neffeg Divad


Kate Harding
February 27, 2010 2:27AM (UTC)

Today in vaguely interesting unsolved pop culture mysteries, Carly Simon has finally revealed the identity of the person who inspired her 1972 hit, "You're So Vain." At least, British tabloid The Sun says she has, "by whispering [his] name BACKWARDS in a reworked version of the 1972 song for her new album Never Been Gone, out next week." (Emphasis all theirs.) All righty, then.

Evidently, the narcissistic bastard in question is not one of Simon's former boyfriends -- Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, Cat Stevens and Kris Kristofferson were all candidates -- or a "composite," as the singer previously claimed. It was... drumroll... producer David Geffen, who was head of her record label at the time, and presumably never dated her at all, seeing as how he's gay. "[R]ather than being angry about a failed relationship," says the Sun, "Carly is thought to have resented the effort he put into promoting rival Joni Mitchell."

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Well! I know I haven't felt such sweet relief since I learned that David Crosby was the father of Melissa Etheridge's kids! But actually, I think I still prefer the answer Simon gives Michael Eisner in the interview below, when he asks why she wrote the famous line "You're so vain/you probably think this song is about you."

"Maybe it came from an experience," she says, "Or maybe I just thought it was a clever thing to say."

Update: HuffPo is now saying it might NOT be David Geffen: "While Simon does whisper 'David' backwards, as reported below, she supposedly also whispers the name 'Warren' backwards elsewhere on the same album redo. Also, Simon reportedly wasn't mad at Geffen until two years after 'You're so Vain' was recorded."


Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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