Shaun Tandon
3 minute read
19 Nov 2015
2:42 pm

You’re so vain! (Video to sing along)

Shaun Tandon

I bet you think this story is about you, don't you?

Now she has revealed the answer — Warren Beatty. But not entirely.

Simon, who had a string of well-known lovers, said that the actor was the subject of the memorable second verse turned chorus, “You’re so vain / You probably think this song is about you.”

“I have confirmed that the second verse is Warren,” the now 70-year-old singer told People magazine in an interview published Wednesday.

Asked if she had told him, Simon replied cheekily, “Warren thinks the whole thing is about him!”

But Simon said that, in fact, the entire song was not about Beatty and that other verses were about two other men, whom she did not name.

Simon had long been coy about the subject of “You’re So Vain,” which was a number one hit in the United States and a number of other countries after its release in late 1972.

But Beatty had been a prime suspect.

Beatty, known for films including “Reds,” “Heaven Can Wait” and “Bugsy,” was linked for years to high-profile women but has been married since 1992 to actress Annette Bening.

Despite the inherent irony Beatty in fact did believe “You’re So Vain” was about him. In a 2007 interview with Britain’s Daily Express, he was quoted as saying, “Let’s be honest. The song is about me.”

– Clues in song –

Other verses tell of how the “vain” man traveled to the Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York to see his horse win and flew a private jet to Nova Scotia “to see the total eclipse of the Sun” — which, if the song was astronomically accurate, narrowed down the possibilities.

Other candidates often speculated to be the subject of the song include the singer and actor Kris Kristofferson and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.

One more far-fetched theory at the time was that “You’re So Vain” was political commentary directed against then-president Richard Nixon, who the same month won a landslide re-election victory.

Another possibility was singer James Taylor, whom Simon married in November 1972.

But the Taylor theory had been deemed unlikely because the song clearly indicates a failed relationship.

“You had me several years ago / When I was still quite naive,” Simon sings. “But you gave away the things you love / And one of them was me.”

The couple divorced a decade later.

Simon revealed the “You’re So Vain” details as she prepares to release a memoir, “Boys in the Trees.”

Explaining the memoir in a blog post, Simon said that she had long hoped to explain herself in long form.

“It is a story I think a lot of you will identify with, if not only to round out some of my narrative in songs you have listened to that I have written in the past — maybe fill in some old blanks in new ways,” she wrote.

Simon’s song, with its edge of bitterness, has remained identifiable for years.

The song was introduced to another generation in 2001 when Janet Jackson sampled it in the hip-hop style “Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song is About You).”

Watch the original music video here: