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Thursday, February 25, 2010

You’re So Vague: Carly Simon Lets Slip a Clue to Pop’s Great Mystery

The identity of the man who walked into the party like he was walking on to a yacht in Carly Simon’s 1972 hit You’re So Vain is one of pop’s greatest mysteries, matched only by the price of that doggie in the window and when, exactly, Luke Goss of Bros was famous.

After guarding the secret for 38 years, however, the singer has let slip the first name of the man who jilted her before going to Saratoga to watch his horse naturally win. Her indiscretion, which coincides with the release of her greatest hits album, appears in an instrumental interlude in an acoustic version of the song.

The name “David” is whispered, backwards, about two and a half minutes into the song. An excerpt of the reversed song is on Times Online.

Simon, 64, confirmed in an interview with Uncut magazine that the whisper alluded to her former lover. “I’m just going to tell you this,” she said. “The answer is on the new version of You’re So Vain. There’s a little whisper — and it’s the answer to the puzzle.”

Carly Simon and I go back a long way

Her confession, if genuine, rules out most of the candidates who have been considered favourites over the years. Warren Beatty, who briefly went out with Simon in the early 1970s, was considered by many, including himself, to be the one who flew his Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun. His mother was born and raised in Nova Scotia. In 1983 Simon said that her description sounded like Beatty. “He certainly thought it was about him. He called me and said, ‘Thanks for the song’.”

Other suspects have included Sir Mick Jagger, who sang backing vocals for the original song, and James Taylor, the American songwriter to whom Simon was married between 1972 and 1983, although she denied it was him.

Two Davids have been considered in the past, although both have been dismissed because of other clues given. David Cassidy, who rose to fame with The Partridge Family, was 22 when the song was written, but he had already cultivated a solo career and had a hit album. David Bowie has also been discussed. Simon said in 2003 and 2004, however, that the subject had the letters A, E and R in his name. This rules both Davids out unless their middle names are included. Bowie was born Duncan Robert Jones and Cassidy’s middle name is Bruce.

Other prominent Davids of the early 1970s include David Frost, David Soul and David (now Lord) Owen. A more credible candidate is David Crosby, formerly of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash, who was in Los Angeles at the same time as Simon.

Simon suggested in a 1989 interview that it was a composite of three men she knew while living in Los Angeles. She said in 1990: “It always strikes me as funny that people would be that into what I was thinking about. That’s the greatest ego trip anybody could have ... And for that very reason, of course, I can never give it away.”

A spokesman for her record company said: “That is all I know. After 38 years, we will never get a direct answer from Carly.”