In 1972 Carly Simon set tongues wagging when she released her original version of this song and speculation went into overdrive about the real identity of the self-absorbed lover to whom Simon refers “your so vain, you probably think this song is about you”. Simon has revealed that the person is in fact a composite of three men, Warren Beatty (pictured below), a former lover of Carly Simon, is definitely one of the inspirations for the song, Mick Jagger was under consideration, but Simon has denied this and revealed that Mick actually provided uncredited backing vocals on the original record, and her former husband James Taylor has also been eliminated
In 2003 Simon revealed the identities of the people in a charity auction to the highest bidder, who was Dick Ebersol, President of NBC Sports who paid $50,000 for the rights on the condition that he never revealed the names, she has apparently also revealed the identities to Taylor Swift, but Tay Tay is not saying.
Subsequently a second person has been identified as musician Daniel Kent Armstrong (see below), with whom Simon had a lengthy affair, the third person remains unknown. In 2017 Carly Simon appeared on the BBC Four show Classic Albums and revealed a hitherto unrecorded fourth verse to the song but the lyrics were enigmatic and did not enable the other person to be identified, although speculation has raged among fans that it might have been Cat Stevens, David Bowie or even David Cassidy.
The original video was a brilliantly captured live performance of the song by Simon outdoors on the beachfront at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, it was a soft rock classic, both visually and musically. Carly was the daughter of Richard Simon, co-founder of the giant Simon and Schuster publishing empire, she was well-connected and the very epitome of cool in the 70’s.
Melbourne band Chocolate Starfish formed in 1992 and when they covered Your So Vain comprised Adam Thompson (lead vocals), Zoran Romic (guitar and vocals), Norman Falvo (keyboards and vocals), John Nixon (bass) and Darren Danielson (drums).
The band’s name is a colloquial term for the anus and this song was a surprising second single for a band who was better known for its original songs, often composed by lead guitarist Zoran Romic.
Simon’s song, originally titled Bless You Ben, was a clever amalgam of random observations, happenstance and the personalities of members of the West Coast glitterati; references to Saratoga, Nova Scotia, the rhyming of the word “apricot” with “gavotte”, and a personal note by Simon who saw clouds reflected through the window of her airplane in her coffee cup, all added to the intrigue and insider mystique of the song, it was also very familiar to the public, even twenty years after its original release, so that it would take a unique treatment by Chocolate Starfish to re-invent it.
The band did just that, Chocolate Starfish were well known for their merging of strong vocals with grungy riffs, anthemic choruses, and a relateable 70’s retro ambience, the distinctive original bass guitar intro by Klaus Voorman, was replicated by John Nixon, but after that the song fairly boomed along with Adam Thompson delivering dramatic, theatrical and at times overwrought vocals, in contrast to the comparatively fey West Coast crooning of Carly Simon. The Starfish video was also a world apart from Carly Simon’s wistful new England seaside vibe, flamboyant front man Thompson is raunchy, expressive, dominant, as he stalks the set, grinds away with scantily-clad backing singers, and momentarily massages the lower leg of the lead guitarist, it was old-fashioned cock rock pantomime.
Your So Vain was lifted from the band’s eponymous debut album produced by former Pseudo Echo front man Brian Canham, and charted at #12, three more songs lifted from the album would also chart in 1994, the anthemic power ballad Mountain (#11), All Over Me (#30), and 4-Letter Word (#40). The debut album was a substantial hit, climbing to #5 and selling in excess of 100,000 copies, the second album Box would follow in 1995 and chart at #15 but no singles impressed. A dispute between Thompson and Romic caused the band to split in 1998, but they reformed in 2010, and became well known for their live gigs and Meatloaf, INXS, and Limp Bizkit, tribute performances; guitarist Zoran Romic (below) sadly passed away in 2012.