You’re so vain: I probably think this song is about me.Posted: May 10, 2014
So, it’s been a quiet week, writing wise. The song You’re So Vain came up in conversation around the house yesterday; it reminded me of this post. I wrote it in 2010. I freshened it up a bit and brought it back, because I’m so vain.
Over the years there has been much speculation on who Carly Simon was singing about in her 1972 hit song, You’re So Vain.
One theory focuses on recording executive David Geffen. Wrong. It’s been said Mick Jagger is the guy who walked into the party like he was walking onto a yacht. Yeah, as if he could. Could Warren Beatty have strategically dipped his hat below one eye? Doubtful.
The song could only be about one person. Me. I am a yacht walking strategic dipper.
Those of you who know me are doing some quick math and dismissing this as more delusions of grandeur. I can hear you now: “you were eleven years old in 1972, don’t be ridiculous.”
Y’know, it sort of ticks me off when you’re dismissive like that. Would it kill you to hear me out?
Now, let’s examine the song lyrics for proof.
“Well you’re where you should be all the time.”
I am very reliable. I’m always prompt. I hate being late. If you ask me to be someplace, you’ll find me there.
Has anyone ever said to you “it’s a good thing you were here” or “you got here just in time”? I didn’t think so. People constantly say it to me.
Right now you’re reading this. I’m not reading it to you, because I’m supposed to be somewhere else.
“Well I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won.”
I never went up to Saratoga. My parents didn’t let eleven year old me leave the state unaccompanied. Also there was that whole thing about being eleven and not being allowed to hang out at racetracks. It would seem that I had no connection to horse racing in 1972. Sometimes things are not what they seem.
When I was young, my Dad and I were at home and the Kentucky Derby was on the television. Dad told me how to pick the winning horse. Essentially, Dad’s method was to watch the horses as they warmed up and pick the one he saw stop to relieve itself on the track.* His theory was that a horse who voided was more relaxed and focused on winning.
I watched carefully and noted the number of the steed that did his business.
That horse naturally won.
“Then you flew your Lear Jet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun.”
I like eclipses. My Mom bought paper plates once so we could poke holes in them to look at an eclipse using the method my teacher told me was the safest.
I didn’t fly up to Nova Scotia for the eclipse (see above reference to not being allowed out of the state) but I did go into my front yard. The flying to Nova Scotia thing was just Carly taking poetic license. The song wouldn’t have flowed if the line was “Then you took your paper plate in the yard, out past the monkey bars, to see the total eclipse of the sun.”
“You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte.”
This line is the one that convinced me that this song is about me. I always thought the line was “watched yourself go by.” Apparently not.
I had to look up gavotte. The gavotte is a baroque French folk dance. Here is a video of some people gavotting, gavottizing doing that dance:
If I was doing that dance, I would absolutely have one eye in the mirror. I’d look at myself and wonder what the hell was doing and why. I’d also have some important questions about my pants.
There is no question, at eleven years old, I would have watched myself gavotte for the sheer confusing spectacle of it. Carly knew that and put it to music.
There are a lot of other lines, most of which are window dressing Carly added to spice up the life of eleven year old me. The song wouldn’t have been a hit if she wrote about me bringing my lunch to school in a paper bag, wishing I could play third base like Brooks Robinson or watching Speed Racer.
Mystery solved. I’m so vain. Any questions?
* Among the many things I am grateful to my father for is that he did not choose a career in gambling. We'd have starved.