JONATHAN CHAIT MARCH 1, 2010
I suppose I deserve this for trusting the British press. It appears David Geffen is probably not the subject of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain." Roger Freidman at Showbiz 411 observes:
David Geffen had nothing to do with Carly Simon in 1972. He ran Asylum Records. She was on Elektra. Jac Holzman ran Elektra and was in charge of the album “No Secrets” and the song “You’re So Vain.”
It wasn’t until the next year that Elektra was merged with Asylum. In 1974, Carly released another album, called “Hot Cakes,” on Elektra. Joni Mitchell released “Court and Spark.” Says a friend of Simon: “Carly was upset that Geffen paid more attention to Joni, but that was well after ‘You’re So Vain.’ He is not the man in the song.”
As I wrote before, the David Geffen idea makes no sense. But I also noted, nothing about the song makes any sense. She's giving an extremely detailed description of a former lover, but insisting that his being able to recognize the description is evidence of vanity. Let's go over some of the lyrics again:
You walked into the party
Like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror
As you watched yourself gavotte ...
Well, I hear you went up to Saratoga
And your horse naturally won
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
If we take this argument seriously -- and I see no other way to read pop music lyrics -- then Simon is imagining that, if her unnamed target were not vain, he would listen to the song and think, "Well, I did have a fling with Carly Simon several years ago, and I also once won money at a horse race in Sarasota, and then immediately flew in a Lear Jet to Nova Scotia to watch a solar eclipse. But my scarf was more of a peach color than apricot, so she's probably singing about somebody else." Obviously that's absurd. It would be vanity if he thought that other songs were about him, songs that were actually about somebody else.