Was Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain’ About a Gay Man – David Geffen?

Carly Simon reports that she left a clue to the subject of her  1972 hit "You're So Vain", who for many years people suspected was Warren Beatty, at the end of a new, reworked version of the track. Now, because of  a backwards whisper at the end of the record which appears to be the word "David", some are saying that it is about the then head of her Elektra record label, David Geffen.

Geffen You can listen to the whisper here.

The Telegraph speculates on some other Davids:

"The recent disclosure leaves two candidates in the running. David Cassidy, who rose to fame with the TV show The Partridge Family, was 22 when the song was written, but had already launched a successful solo career. David Bowie, the British rock star, has also been discussed as a possibility.
Simon said in 2003 and 2004 that the subject had the letters A, E and R in his name, which leaves a question mark over both men. Bowie was born Duncan Robert Jones and Cassidy’s middle name is Bruce.
David Crosby, of the folk-rock band Crosby Stills and Nash, lived in Los Angeles at the same time as Simon. She has suggested the song was based on a composite of three men she knew while living in the Californian city.
In a 1989 interview, the singer said: 'It always strikes me as funny that people should be that into what I was thinking about. That’s the greatest ego trip anybody could have. And for that reason of course, I can never give it away.'"

Of course A,E, and R also appear in Elektra. Others believe it was her gay producer David Geffen, whom she resented at the time:

Simon  "In 1972 when she wrote the song billionaire Geffen was the head of her Elektra record label.
It is thought she was inspired to write the damning lyrics after Geffen put all his time and energy into promoting her rival, Joni Mitchell, over her. In the hit Simon sings that the man walked into the party like he was walking on to a yacht.
The subject of her wrath jilted her before going to Saratoga to watch his horse naturally win."

Whatever the case, by milking one of pop music's enduring mysteries, Simon has now drummed up plenty of publicity for the rework of the song, and she is asking people to make the first-ever video for it.


  1. Zach says

    Didn’t Beatty actually own a horse named “Naturally”? And didn’t his mother come from Nova Scotia? I assumed he was the most obvious candidate, though I always doubted Simon was singing about one men, rather than a series of men who treated her badly.

  2. Rafael says

    At the beginning of the song, she sings:

    “And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner”

    Now that I think about it, “they’d be” sounds a lot like David.

  3. Michael J says

    Carly Simon wishes she had half the talent Joni Mitchell has or, for that matter, Laura Nyro (Geffen’s earlier protegee) had.

  4. Critifur says

    It is a good thing for Geffen he made good in business, because he got the short stick in the looks department!

  5. LincolnLounger says

    Rumor has it that’s not the only “short stick” Geffen got.

    Joni Mitchell was great, but Carly Simon rules.

  6. says

    It’s so funny how this comes up every few years – she even auctioned off the “secret” for charity some time back! If it’s about Geffen, it wouldn’t be the only time. Joni wrote “Free Man In Paris” about him and he begged her not to release it. And while I’ll agree with the sentiment that Carly’s a notch below Joni and Laura Nyro, so would she probably. And she still has written a buttload of good pop songs.

  7. anon says

    Joni had several small hits and Carly had a couple big ones. The world was big enough for the two of them.

  8. TANK says

    Geffen was never attractive. Lady lawd no, that man was no pinup. But, he’s always got a nice whore on his hand to show off…so ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you look so long as you’re wealthy.