The Mystery Man Behind Carly Simon's "You're So Vain"

By | October 4, 2021

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Simon set tongues wagging when she first sang "You're So Vain."(Joe Corrigan/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

“You’re So Vain,” by Carly Simon inspired more questions and conspiracy theories than Area 51. The November 1972 hit took more than five weeks to reach Billboard’s number 1 but retained that spot for the opening three weeks of 1973. The vivacious Simon enjoyed the company of a variety of famous men, leading to endless debate over who exactly was “so vain.”

Since 1972 Simon has also offered a number of cagey quotes, which only produce a fresh round of speculation every time she titillates the media. So who’s “You’re So Vain,” how did Simon cajole Mick Jagger into singing on it, and what are ‘coffee clouds’? Read on to find out the answer to those questions and more!

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Simon did admit that ex-husband James Taylor was not the muse for "You're So Vain."

How “You’re So Vain” Began

The gossip-generating hit actually stemmed from a song called “Bless You Ben.” As Simon told Charlie Rose in 2000, “It went 'Bless you Ben, you came in, where nobody else left off, there I was, by myself, hiding up in my loft.' ”

Later on, while yachting, a friend of Simon’s provided more creative juice. As Simon tells it, “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. And then one day, when I was playing 'Bless You Ben' on the piano, I substituted 'You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht and the exchange was equal. And it felt natural and it felt good and then I could get into that man, I knew who I was talking about." That same man also spawned the original title of "Ballad of a Vain Man."