For nearly four decades, the identity of the subject of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” has remained an official mystery while fans speculated that icons like Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger and the singer’s ex-husband James Taylor were the egocentric man. But now Simon has reportedly offered up a major clue thanks to a newly recorded version of “You’re So Vain” — she’d previously told Uncut that the vain man’s name would be heard when listeners played her new version of the track backwards. The U.K.’s Sun got their hands on the clip, and the backwards track simply reveals the name “David.” (Listen to the reversed clips here.)
The Sun speculates that the David in question is David Geffen — a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2010 — the head of the label that released “You’re So Vain,” Elektra Records. Allegedly, Simon was displeased with the way Geffen supported her musical rival Joni Mitchell after the Blue singer signed with Geffen’s Asylum Records. The timeline seems to make sense, as Mitchell’s first Asylum album For the Roses came out in November 1972, just weeks before the release of Simon’s “You’re So Vain” in the December of that year.
Simon had long claimed that the person in “You’re So Vain” represented a “composite” of different men she encountered in the early 1970s, and then later refined that statement to say that the subject of the song had the letters A, E and R in their name. WARrEn Beatty and Mick JAggER both fit into that category, but with the revelation of “David” being vain, they’re automatically eliminated. David Bowie and David Crosby have also been mentioned as possible “Davids” from that era, but Crosby lacks the necessary “E” and Bowie had never before been linked to Simon in any capacity. So where’s the “R” in “David Geffen”? The Dreamworks man’s full name is “DAvid LawRence GEffen.” While we’re not stating as fact that “You’re So Vain” is about Geffen, he seems like the most logical candidate.
So the mystery of “You’re So Vain” might finally be solved. At least we still have the curious case of “You Oughta Know.” (Cough)