You’re So Vain – Carly Simon | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1 for 3 weeks) and Adult Contemporary (#1 for 2 weeks); 1973

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

For a time in 1973 the question on every pop music fan’s mind was “who’s so vain?” From the moment Carly Simon’s single hit the airwaves, speculation abounded as to the target of her pointed lyrics.

Was it Warren Beatty? How about Kris Kristofferson? Or perhaps ex-husband James Taylor? Another top candidate was Rolling Stone Mike Jagger, whose distinctive twang can be heard prominently on the record.

Carly herself refused to solve the mystery; ruling out only her former mate. Most likely, as Carly herself has claimed at times, the vain male is actually an amalgam of several men the singer/songwriter knew well.

As for the record itself, Vain marked a change from Carly’s previous ballads. Powered by a driving bass line courtesy of Klaus Voormann (famed for his association with The Beatles in their Hamburg days), Vain puts on a funky strut that grabbed enough attention to make it Simon’s biggest all-time hit.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Richard Perry

Lyrics Written by:

  • Carly Simon


  • Grammy Award Nominations: Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” received three Grammy nominations: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (1974)
  • Grammy Hall of Fame: “You’re So Vain” in Grammy Hall of Fame (2004)
  •  Billboard Chart Success: “You’re So Vain” reached No. 1 in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and is ranked at No. 92 on Billboard’s Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Carly Simon was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2022
  • Top 40 Weekly Top Songs of the 70s Chart Position: #64