Who’s So Vain?

There seems to be a bit of renewed dis­cus­sion about just who Car­ly Simon’s song is about. Even The New Repub­lic and NPR are in on it.

It is pos­si­ble that You’re So Vain is about a par­tic­u­lar man. It is pos­si­ble that all of the details arise from one indi­vid­ual man. But I doubt it.

It is far more like­ly that the song is about many men and no man. Some of the details are like­ly made up from whole cloth, the rest from var­i­ous peo­ple that she knew or heard about. Car­ly was a beau­ti­ful woman from a bit of wealth who was mak­ing a liv­ing in the music indus­try (the song is on her third album). It is not a stretch to think that she had dat­ed more than one or two vain men

On Simon’s web­site is a com­pi­la­tion of bits of inter­views over the years on the sub­ject. In one she says:

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.

At times she inti­mates that the song is about a com­pi­la­tion of men. At oth­er times she hints it is about one man. She seems to have a good idea of how to keep inter­est up.

Here we are in 2010. Simon has bare­ly been heard from since 1990’s Have You Seen Me Late­ly. The Wikipedia discog­ra­phy lists eight cd releas­es since then, but I don’t believe there has been a lot of suc­cess with any of them. Her lat­est release admits as much in its title: Nev­er Been Gone. She would­n’t have to tell us that if we did­n’t think she had been.

Three of those last eight cds were all cov­ers. One was an opera which I guess did so bad that she put a piece of it on the next cd, Let­ters Nev­er Sent, in hopes that the added expo­sure would help.

And sur­prise, sur­prise, Nev­er Been Gone is all cov­ers of her own ear­li­er (more suc­cess­ful) material.

And sur­prise, sur­prise, Car­ly sneaks in a whis­per to get every­one talk­ing about You’re So Vain once again after all these years.

For the record, I had always been a big fan of Car­ly Simon. But I have not been much excit­ed about her music since 1990.

Oh yeah. This is my 101st post!

2 thoughts on “Who’s So Vain?”

  1. In 2005 Car­ly Simon released an album titled MOONLIGHT SERENADE that debuted at #7 on the Bill­board charts and in 2007 her album INTO WHITE reached #13. Quite remark­able achieve­ments after 40 years in the record­ing busi­ness. You may have not been excit­ed about her music, but many peo­ple have been! :)

  2. Honey_​Bunn,

    Point tak­en. I would just say that both of those albums are all cov­ers, so it isn’t her music so much as her singing. Not that there’s any­thing wrong with that.

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