Taylor Swift knows something you don’t know: The secret identity of the person Carly Simon’s 1972 song “You’re So Vain” is about. The breakup anthem has long been the subject of debate, but a July 29 MTV report reveals that the pop superstar is now in on the long-kept secret.
After teaming up with Simon to duet the famous song during a July 27 stop in Massachusetts on her “Red” tour, Swift said to the crowd, “I was thinking she might tell you, but I do know now.”
For over 40 years, fans have wondered who the song about a narcissist lover is about, with names like Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, David Geffen, Kris Kristofferson, Cat Stevens and Simon’s ex-husband James Taylor regularly popping up.
Carly Simon’s website boasts an entire section devoted to speculation on who the song is about. A linked article to a 1973 Rolling Stone interview quotes the singer as saying:
No, it’s definitely not about James, although James suspected that it might be about him because he’s very vain. No, he isn’t, but he had the unfortunate experience of taking a jet up to Nova Scotia after I’d written the song. He was saved by the fact that it wasn’t a Lear.”
During a 2004 appearance on “Live With Regis and Kelly,” Simon dropped clues on letters that are included in the mystery man’s name:
If I tell it, it’s going to come out in dribs and drabs,” she said. “And I’ve given out two letters already, an… E and an A. But I’m going to add one to it. I’m going to add an R in honor of you.”
In addition to Swift, at least one other person knows the identity of the song’s subject. In 2009, Simon revealed the identity to the highest bidder in a charity auction. According to CBS News, Simon’s secret went for $50,000 at the auction, with NBC Sports president Dick Ebersol placing the winning bid. While Ebersol had to promise not to tell anyone the top secret name, he also won a private lunch at Simon’s home complete with a performance of the song.
So why did Swift get to learn the secret for free? Perhaps because she and Simon have a special sisterhood.
Simon reportedly had such a good time performing the song with Swift that backstage after the duet she said:
It was just so wonderful that I just want to do it again. She was so great. She really led me through my own song. She was just loving of the whole thing. And we loved each other and we moved together and apart. It was dramatic.”