It’s the song behind one of the most iconic moments in rom-com history, You’re So Vain by Carly Simon has been adored by generation after generation.
From when it was first released by Simon in 1972, to watching Kate Hudson confront Matthew McConaughey using its lyrics in How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days and everything in between, the song has truly stood the test of time.
You’re So Vain was the lead single of Simon’s album No Secrets (a very ironic title), it rose to #1 in multiple countries around the world and has since been included in Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
But one of the reasons we still find ourselves visiting the hit tune 50 years later is the mystery surrounding it – who is ‘Mr So Vain’?
Well, it seems that there’s only a handful of people who truly know the answer to that question.
Originally, the melody of You’re So Vain was intended to be used for a song titled Bless You Ben, but in an interview with Charlie Rose Simon explained that the song never got off the ground because she just ‘could never fall in love with it.’
So, when she was at a party and saw a man strut in like he owned the place, she turned to her friend and said, ‘Doesn’t he look like he just walked onto a yacht?’ and the tune we know and love today was born.
Prior to the song’s release, Simon told Vanity Fair that You’re So Vain was about multiple men rather than one in particular, but she has since contradicted that statement.
After years of speculation surrounding the true identity of ‘Mr So Vain’, Simon gave one lucky bidder the opportunity to find out the truth at an auction event in Martha’s Vineyard.
The public had speculated that the song could have been about several men in Simon’s life, including James Taylor, Warren Beatty, David Bowie, Jack Nicholson, and even Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger – and it seems people were willing to pay a hefty price to know for sure.
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President of NBC Sports, Dick Ebersol took out the prize with a winning bid of US$50,000 (about $125,000 AUD today).
For that price, Ebersol received the privilege of Simon herself revealing to him the identity of ‘Mr So Vain’.
Ebersol was sworn to secrecy, allowed to tell only one other person however both had to sign paperwork agreeing to never tell anyone else.
Soon after the auction, Ebersol appeared on the Today Show in the US where Catie Couric tried to pry the information out of him.
He refused to provide anything more than the one clue that Simon said he was allowed to give the public, ‘Mr So Vain’s’ name has the letter E in it.
Over the years, Simon has revealed that along with an E, his name also contains the letters A and R, however it hasn’t done much to help the public narrow down the options.
The first major revelation about the identity of ‘Mr So Vain’ didn’t come until 2015, over 40 years after the song’s release.
In an interview with People, Simon revealed that Warren Beatty is one of several of the song’s muse’s.
“I have confirmed that the second verse is Warren,” she said.
The interview was a part of a deal for Simon to promote her upcoming book at the time.
“It was my publisher who called up and said, ‘People magazine will put you on the cover if you tell who ‘You’re So Vain’ is about or just give one verse up.'” she said in a later interview.
“And so I, therefore, decided to give a little bit away. Now, that doesn’t mean that the other two verses aren’t also about Warren. It just means that the second one is.”
Over the year’s, Simon hasn’t shied away from letting the public know that Beatty has always been certain the song was about him.
In 1993, she revealed that he gave her a call following its release to say ‘thanks for the song’ and she also told People in 2015 that, “Warren thinks the whole thing is about him!”
As for the official identity of ‘Mr So Vain’ it seems that Erbersol and a handful of Simon’s closest friends are the only ones who will ever know for sure.
In 2015, the singer sadly revealed that she doesn’t have any plans to name the song’s other inspirations.
“I don’t think so,” she told People, “at least [not] until they know it’s about them.”