The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pay and solve a mystery, but don’t be so vain

It is one of the great unsolved mysteries of the 1970s, along with the identity of the Watergate source Deep Throat, but now Carly Simon is to reveal who You’re So Vain was about.

For 31 years, the song has taunted listeners with the chorus: “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.”

Rock writers have put forward many celebrities who might be the target of the lyric. They include former lovers of Simon, such as Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger (who sang backing vocals), Cat Stevens and Kris Kristofferson.

Simon, now 58, has only ever ruled out her then husband, James Taylor.

She will disclose the identity this week to the highest bidder at a charity auction in Martha’s Vineyard, the Massachusetts island, where she lives. But there is a catch.

The successful bidder will have to sign a confidentiality clause and can never pass on the information. The Daily Telegraph’s rock critic, Neil McCormick, thought Simon could be making a tactical mistake.

“Once one person knows, I’m sure it will become public,” he said. “But maybe we’d be better not knowing. What if it’s some guy we’ve never heard of' Carly’s had ample opportunity to make it public in the past, so I suspect she’s after a bit of publicity.”

Simon joked recently that she feared that if she gave away the secret “no one would have anything to talk to me about”.

In 1983, she told an interviewer: “It certainly sounds like it was about Warren Beatty. He certainly thought it was about him — he called me and said, ‘Thanks for the song’.”

She has teased interviewers mercilessly, at one point hinting it might be based on a composite of three men from her time as a young woman in Los Angeles.

According to the lyrics, the vain man wore a tilted hat and apricot-coloured scarf, went to horse racing in Saratoga and took a private Lear jet to watch a solar eclipse in Nova Scotia. He also spent time with a spy and the wife of a close friend.

After that hit song, Simon had a second huge seller, with the James Bond theme Nobody Does It Better. In recent years, her appeal has, in rock parlance, become more selective.

Her latest songs feature on the soundtrack to the children’s cartoon Piglet’s Big Picture.

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