“You had me several years ago,
when I was still quite naive.
Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair,
and that you would never leave.
But you gave away the things you loved,
and one of them was me.”
You’re So Vain, written and performed by Carly Simon, was released in December of 1972. The song is a critical profile of a self-absorbed lover. It was a number-one hit, topping the billboard Hot 100 for three weeks in early 1973, and also spent two weeks at the top of the Adult Contemporary Chart. This was Carly’s first number one song in either chart, and became what many fans consider to be the biggest musical mystery of the era.
There has been much debate over who exactly the song is about. Popular guesses on the subject include Mick Jagger (who sang un-credited backup vocals on the song), Cat Stevens, Warren Beatty, Kris Kristofferson (with whom Carly had brief relationships), her unfaithful fiancé William Donaldson, or Carly’s ex-husband, James Taylor.
for the record, carly has never publicly named who the song is about, only made this statement in an interview when asked about it – that it was about the “many vain men i’ve known in my life”.
Editor’s note: I always took that the song was about James Taylor, whom I believed to have written ‘This Used to be Her Town’ to Carly. Of course, as any muse to a song would tell you, there is always another side to every story and song, and so much is left to (mis)interpretation.
This was one of those songs that my mother always turned up to blasting level when it came on the radio, and sang along with every piece of herself. Because of this I learned the lyrics quickly, and used to sing with her, just as hard and strong. At that age (I think I was about five or six) I did not quite understand what I was singing, or what sentiment it conveyed. All I knew is that my mother loved it, and I loved singing it with her.
As I grew up I certainly gained a new perspective to the song, and have dated a few men of my own that I could dedicate it to. As a matter of fact, it is one of those songs that I now turn up to blasting levels when I run across it on the radio, and sing along with every piece of myself.
It is also my go-to karaoke song.
You’re So Vain (1972) :: Carly Simon