Throwback Tuesday : Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain’


Take a bow, peeps – a legend’s in the house today!

With her third studio effort ‘No Secrets‘ released in 1972, Pop/Rock royalty Grammy/Academy Award/Golden Globe winning icon Carly Simon cemented her status as one of the biggest players of the game by releasing the first single off the album ‘You’re So Vain‘ – a stellar kiss-off to a worthless ex that became one of music’s most enduring mysteries for almost four decades!

Speculation about which jerk of a lover the iconic song was referring to (since Simon usually wrote songs which were autobiographical) ranged from her ex boyfriends Mick Jagger (he contributed uncredited background vocals in the song) to Cat Stevens to Kris Kristofferson to Warren Beatty. The speculation is justified though – I mean have y’all checked the judicious dollops of subtle scorn Simon’s unleashed through the song? Take a bow again! Simon had coyly avoided any discussion regarding her subject for 38 years – until she apparently broke her silence in 2010 – which turned out to be yet another mystery.


Turns out, ‘You’re So Vain‘ was not about an ex lover at all – it was apparently about the openly gay head of Elektra Records, her former boss and billionaire David Geffen. BUMMER. On a reworked version of the song for her 2010 album ‘Never Been Gone‘, Simon slyly whispered the name ‘David‘ backwards, but her publicist denied Geffen as the song’s subject. Back in the day, Simon was irked by the amount of promo showered on her Elektra label-mate Joni Mitchell by Geffen, hence Geffen’s involvement. Oh well. The world still remains guessing!

Either way, ‘You’re So Vain‘, apart from being a legendary song eventually inducted in the Grammy Hall Of Fame, remains one of my fave break-up anthems of all time! I love how Carly uses the song as a medium to utterly, yet calmly decimate her self-obsessed ex! For men who’d rather play around with trash than make it work with a good woman – Carly’s message rings loud and clear.

Easily Carly’s signature song and a staple of her repertoire, ‘You’re So Vain‘ reached # 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973, staying there for three weeks, while the parent album ‘No Secrets‘ became her first # 1 album.

While Carly Simon’s version of ‘You’re So Vain‘ is laid back and rather subtle, fellow Pop icon Janet Jackson took the song to a whole new level in 2001, when she sampled ‘You’re So Vain‘ for her hit ‘Son Of A Gun‘ from her Billboard # 1 smash album ‘All For You‘. Simon reworked her vocals for ‘Son Of A Gun‘, and Jackson recruited Missy Elliott to spit in a few verses on the song – resulting in possibly the most insane yet hilarious break-up song in history, released shortly after Jackson’s divorce with her ex Rene Elizondo.


Jackson ferociously slays the skank who had the gall to screw her around as she bellows – ‘Sweatin’ me but I’m not you’re type, you think you irk me, and you’re so right. I’d rather keep the trash and throw you out!’, as Simon hollers behind her, ‘I Betcha think the song is about you!‘. Word has it that Rene, Janet’s secret husband of 8 years, was sleeping around, and playing the unapologetic victim at the same time. The colossal nerve! Well, he now knows where he belongs, as Missy rightly spits ‘What made you think I wanted to keep you around? While I work my ass off while you just lounge around, huh? You slump, bum, son of a gun. And uh, how much you worth? I think negative, done!

Bravo Miss Jackson! Also, those abs and the swag? SLAYAGE!

And if you listen closely, you’ll hear Carly slyly informing the world that Mick Jagger was not the subject of the original ‘You’re So Vain‘ on Janet’s ‘Son Of A Gun‘. Just before the bridge, when Janet and Carly have a conversation, Simon croons ‘The apricot scarf is worn by Nick, nothing in the words refer to Mick!

Legend overload y’all!

Check out Janet’s ‘Son Of A Gun‘ featuring Missy Elliott and Carly Simon right here :