OMG, you guys! Stop the presses! Carly Simon has finally revealed the true identity of the dude who was so vain, he probably thought 1972’s “You’re So Vain” was about him! At least, that’s what U.K. tabloid The Sun would have you believe.
Simon re-recorded “You’re So Vain” for her album Never Been Gone, which has been out since last October. In a column that’s been widely circulated today, the Sun notes that if you play the re-recorded tune backwards, you can hear Simon whisper the name “David.” This, according to the Sun, means that Simon must have been talking about David Geffen, the head of her record label at the time.
So is it true? A rep for Simon confirms to the Music Mix that she does whisper “David” backwards on the new “You’re So Vain.” But that’s hardly definitive proof that the song has been about Geffen all along. “It’s just a clue,” Simon’s rep adds. “There are lots of ‘Davids.'” Indeed. The Sun offers no evidence whatsoever beyond that rather common first name. She could be talking about anyone — David Beckham, David Schwimmer, David Dinkins, Dave Matthews, the Biblical King David, my uncle David, that statue in Florence…
Simon has dropped all sorts of conflicting hints in the 38 years people have been asking her about this song. Most of those coy bits of misdirection are posted at a handy page on her official website, and now she’s added another to the pile. Reading between the lines, my best guess is that “You’re So Vain” isn’t really “about” any one real-life individual. It’s a song about a character type that might or might not have been inspired by one or several people Simon knew — who knows, maybe including David Geffen. Isn’t the whole point of the chorus that only an egomaniac would hear the preceding verses as a coded message about a specific person such as himself?
One thing we can surely agree on: “You’re So Vain” is one excellent tune. Watch Simon performing it below, then weigh in with your take on this unsolved mystery.
UPDATE: Carly Simon herself seems to have emailed the Hollywood Reporter over the weekend to definitively debunk this rumor: “What a riot! Nothing to do with David Geffen! What a funny mistake! Someone got a clue mistaken for another mistake!” So that’s that. The possibility that “You’re So Vain” is about Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, however, remains undenied.
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