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More Clues in the "You're So Vain" Mystery

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"You're So Vain" is like Carly Simon's Thanksgiving turkey that is still providing leftovers. Whenever she has something to promote, she drops a clue or two about the identity of the mystery man, guaranteeing a few inches of press. Her latest project is a memoir called Boys in the Trees. To stir up interest, she dropped this nugget: The second verse is about Warren Beatty. As for the other verses, those are about two different men she will not name at the moment.

It took a while for the song to build a legend; Simon was fairly forthcoming about it early on, explaining that it was based on different people, and the specific scenarios ("Your scarf it was apricot," "You went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won") were made up. Over time, she began playing up the mystery of the song, implying that it was about one of the famous men in her life, perhaps Beatty or Mick Jagger.

In 2003, Simon drummed up interest in a charity auction by offering the secret to the winning bidder, which turned out to be Dick Ebersol of NBC Sports. For, $50,000, Ebersol got the scoop, but had to keep it a secret. Simon offered a hint to the public: the man's name has an "E" in it. This ploy got plenty of attention, so she revealed more letters in ensuing years: "A" and an "R."

In 2010, she used the mystery to promote her album Never been Gone, which included a new version of the song where she whispers a clue, "David." Speculation was that this was David Geffen, but she denied that.

As long as there is interest in the mystery, Simon is happy to keep it going, and we can't blame her: drumming up publicity isn't so easy when you're 70.

Perhaps the song's most profound influence on pop culture, however, is its impact on Taylor Swift, who aroused interest with songs that were seemingly about famous guys she dated. Like Simon, she keeps coy about revealing the identities of these guys, and feigns incredulity when asked, all the while drumming up more interest in her work. Swift, incidentally, supposedly knows who "You're So Vain" is about - she says Simon told her after a 2013 concert when Swift brought Simon on stage to sing it as a surprise guest.

Like Swift, we also owe a debt to Simon, as many folks have stopped by Songfacts to learn more about the enigma.

"You're So Vain" Songfacts

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