Since Carly Simon first recorded "You're So Vain" in 1972, many have wondered if her melodic rant was inspired by a specific male egomaniac. The question seemed closed last week after Simon released a new version — urging listeners to play it backwards to discover the mystery man's identity — and consensus built in the British press that the Vain One was music mogul David Geffen. (Watch a CelebTV report on the David Geffen theory) Simon now says they've got it wrong — renewing speculation yet again. Here's a look at the top 6 men rumored to have thought the song was "about" them:
After heading up Simon's "Elektra" record label from 1980-1990, Geffen went on to cofound DreamWorks film studios with fellow power-players Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Suspected because: In the recent round of guessing, the British press alleged that Geffen irked Simon by giving her label-mate, Joni Mitchell, too much attention.
Case against: It seems unlikely that Geffen had a romantic relationship with Simon. He's now openly gay.
American singer and songwriter known for '70s folk-rock hits such "Me and Bobby McGee," and "Help Me Make it Through the Night."
Suspected because: The thrice-married ladies' man had a habit of dating other celebrity singers, including Simon, Janis Joplin, and his "A Star is Born" co-star Barbra Streisand.
Case against: Kristofferson's "primary qualification" is the slim fact he dallied with Simon a few months before the song was written.
Country singer and songwriter known for 1970s hits "Fire and Rain" and "Handy Man."
Suspected because: He married Simon the same year the song was released — beginning a stormy relationship that ended in a notably bitter 1983 divorce. "I'm so erased, so erased," Simon commented after Taylor made no reference to their union in "One Man Band," his 2007 autobiographical CD. I don't think James has forgotten."
Case against: Despite its aftermath, the marriage did last for over 10 years. Simon was sufficiently committed to Taylor to attempt to help him kick a heroin habit.
SIR MICK JAGGER
Lead vocalist of The Rolling Stones.
Suspected because: Jagger has long been rumored to have conducted an affair with Simon (his then-wife, Bianca, made the accusation in 1972). Coincidentally or not, Jagger contributed to the song's back-up vocals. Reports Simon: "I was in London…[Mick called and said] 'Hey, what cha doin'?" and I said, "We're doing some backup vocals on a song of mine…why don't you come down and sing with us?"
Case against: Simon denies any romantic relationship with Jagger.
Actor, producer, screenwriter, and director best known for "Splendor in the Grass," "Bonnie and Clyde," and "Shampoo."
Suspected because: The known lothario has allegedly slept with 13,000 women, and his reaction to the song's initial release — reportedly assuming the song was actually about him — is arguably vain. Simon said Beatty called to "thank" her.
Case against: Simon said unequivocally in a 2000 interview that Beatty was not the subject of the song.
Popular '70s singer-songwriter best known for "The First Cut is the Deepest."
Suspected because: Reportedly, Simon wrote at least two other hits about this former boyfriend, "Legend in Your Own Time" and "Anticipation." After their romance ended, Stevens reciprocated with "Sweet Scarlett," about Simon.
Case against: "He's not typically known for his self-centeredness," says Spinner's Matt Glazebrook of Stevens, who converted to Islam in 1977 and now goes by the name Yusuf Islam.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Israel can no longer let the Palestinian Authority be responsible for security in the West Bank
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- 10 things you need to know today: July 26, 2014
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How to cook a perfect rib eye steak
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
- The week's best photojournalism
Subscribe to the Week