Submitted by TexitorFlexit t3_126di03 in Music

I’m sure this has been addressed a long time ago but I don’t understand this Carly Simon song. The entire song is about this guy, yet it repetitively states, “you probably think this song is about you.”

Am I missing something?



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WonderWeeble t1_je8qi9j wrote



rigatoni_rigamarol t1_je9kuij wrote

I heard it’s been confirmed the person she’s referring to is the listener


_off_piste_ t1_je9o99k wrote

Could be a lot of truth to that but it’s at least about more than one person.


TexitorFlexit OP t1_je8rin7 wrote

“Irony is just honesty with the volume cranked up.” ~George Saunders


M-atthew147s t1_je8zhuk wrote

Bro you don't understand irony why you sharing quotes about it?!?


EshayAdlay420 t1_je91fgn wrote



ga1205 t1_je9f68g wrote

Nothing in that song is ironic.


bumwine t1_je9vjv5 wrote

You went to the wrong elementary school. It would be hilarious if it ironically had no irony. Except…it has a clear case of cosmic irony.

We have like what, six types of irony you could argue for one or two more.


Fit-Friend-8431 t1_je8xkmb wrote

Fun fact: Mick Jagger sings backing vocals on it


karma_the_sequel t1_je9n6u0 wrote

Funner fact: Toni Tennille sang backup on Pink Floyd’s The Wall.


SnarkyBear53 t1_je9zykp wrote

I've read that on the album liner notes...but I don't know exactly where she sings.


[deleted] t1_je93wmz wrote



Economy-Skill9487 t1_je98vnb wrote

Nope. David Geffen.

Edit: Sorry, that's a Joni Mitchell song. You're So Vain is about Warren Beatty.


Fluffy_Little_Fox t1_je94qnm wrote

Didn't Trent Reznor sample this one on STARFXXKERS INC. ????


DavidGan1x t1_je9b77i wrote

Not exactly, he copied the lyric for this bit:

All our pain How did you think we'd get by without you? You're so vain I bet you think this song is about you Dont you? Dont you? Dont you? Dont you? Dont you? Dont you? Dont you? Dont you? Dont you? Dont you?


elpajaroquemamais t1_je9802i wrote

No one knows who it’s about. It’s a mystery. She’s only told one person.


Micahman311 t1_je9gsbf wrote

Howard Stern claims she told him and that he forgot who she said. I call bullshit.


Icy-Faithlessness-87 t1_je8tukr wrote

Probably 20 different guys think the song is about him…


hawkwings t1_je8zdmo wrote

It's a joke. It is like one of those logic puzzles that says something like "This sentence is false." If the sentence is true, then it's false and if it's false, then it's true.


prisonforkids t1_je97ufv wrote


Micahman311 t1_je9gz1s wrote

See: Labyrinth

"One of us always tells the truth, and one of us always lies. He lies."

Edit: Or this other one I heard from Davey Havok on Loveline many years ago...

"If I asked you to sleep with me, would your answer be the same as the answer to this question?"


atomicsnarl t1_jea60oc wrote

Wizard: "There are two guards. One tells the truth, one tells lies. We must learn which is which to get through the magic door!"

Ork kills one one of the guards, then demands of the other, "Is that man dead?"

Guard, trembling for his life, "Errr, no?"

Ork: "This guard the liar."

Rogue applauds.


Delini t1_je9mvoh wrote

I mean… it’s more like a “this sentence is true” logic puzzle.

She’s describing someone pretty specific, the person it’s about absolutely knows it’s about them, and they’re not wrong.


the_racecar t1_je97jwz wrote

Yes that’s literally the point of the song. She is pointing out this little paradox. The person is so vain, that when they hear a song, they think it is about them. Is it? Is it not? It’s both and neither. That’s the point. It’s just a clever little line


Hei2 t1_jea45fq wrote

> It's both and neither.

That's outright false. The song is about that person.


Pastel_Lich t1_je8vp5z wrote

Why would she write a song about me, I wasn't even born back then?


Icy1551 t1_je902hf wrote

From what I understand, very few or nobody actually knows who the song is about other than Carly. The idea is that if that person hears her song, even though it never directly mentions them by name, will still think the song is about them, because of how vain they are.

Edit: phrasing.


swayzeeexpress t1_je9eun1 wrote

I remember a contest held maybe 20 years ago where a fan got to have lunch with Carly and would be to who the song is about.


ljhatgisdotnet t1_je8xc8t wrote

She said it was about three guys, one of which is Warren Beatty.


amideadyet1357 t1_je9vyrc wrote

Yeah to me this is the ultimate gotcha about the song, if you think it’s all about you, you’ve proven your ego, you only got a verse, Mr. Beatty (who did think the song was all about him).


deenali t1_je8wyhi wrote

Don't bother. These days nobody understands the word vain anymore.


ryancementhead t1_je94qv4 wrote

Or understands irony.


mkawick t1_je9bnxt wrote

And isn't it ironic... doncha think?
It's like rain on your wedding day...
(proceeds to list things that are coincidental, not ironic)


Bugslugs47 t1_je8v7u2 wrote

The clue is in the title. Vain = Vanity = Egotistical = Me! Me! = Conceited = Puffed Up = Self Love.

Superb song with carefully crafted lyrics.


Micahman311 t1_je9hd1f wrote

"I used to dream there were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee, and...."

No idea what that means, but I am A Okay with it.


Mumsbud t1_je9hpqm wrote

“I had some dreams they were clouds in your coffee”


Micahman311 t1_je9huuw wrote

I got the first part wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's "my" at the end and not "your", no?


Mumsbud t1_je9jahy wrote

Just listened to it and you are 100% correct sir/madam.


Micahman311 t1_je9jhdo wrote

It's all good. I knew better on the first part too, but got it wrong nonetheless.

Any ideas on what she might mean? I've never given it much thought, but always noticed it as a neat lyric.


Sterno_cleidomastoid t1_je9q3df wrote

I take it to mean that she had dreams about the future but to him they were just the inconsequential clouds that milk makes in coffee that disappear… writing this now I see maybe that doesn’t make sense though lol


mlfn29 t1_jea22x9 wrote

I read, probably with the lyrics at Spotify, that she was on a plane and noticed that the clouds reflected in her cup of coffee. And used it in the song.


cockmanderkeen t1_je9n8zp wrote

I always thought it was clowns, until my friend laughed at me and said that was dumb


karma_the_sequel t1_je9neu5 wrote

When I was a kid, I thought she was saying “clowns” instead of “clouds.”


GSV_No_Fixed_Abode t1_je9czkt wrote

Well who flew the jet to Nova Scotia?

Nova Scotians love gossip, if any 70s celebrity flew here to see the eclipse of the sun or whatever, the locals would know.


diceberg t1_je8yc4s wrote

Here to set the record straight. The song was written about David Geffen.


AromaticTill2415 t1_je9xvc7 wrote

You are the only one here with the correct answer. I don't understand why someone downvoted you.


Mrselfdestructuk t1_je9p6nh wrote

And when NIN sing it in Starfuckers inc. it's about Courtney Love


maxmouze t1_jearzn8 wrote

Tori Amos also wrote a song about Courtney Love where she calls her a “starfucker.” Called “Professional Widow.”


Mrselfdestructuk t1_jeawqws wrote

I know the story


maxmouze t1_jeazwmq wrote

I didn't. I know she's used "pretty hate machine" in "Caught a Lite Sneeze" and also "nine inch nails" in "Precious Things." I knew "Professional Widow" was about Courtney Love but didn't know NIN had also written a song called "Starfuckers" which solidifies why she used that lyric.


compuwiza1 t1_je9xc9r wrote

I think she talks about several men she has dated, but the song is not about them, My take is that it is about her, about the way they made her feel.


Tpmbyrne t1_je8yy4j wrote

Its not about me?


Reasonable_Feeling65 t1_je989ms wrote

Yes, add the title of the song. As in: You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you. So, if someone thinks that the song is about them, then not only are they vain, but they're not who the song is about.

It's a mystery who the song is actually about. This has been going on since the late 1970s, and we've officially stopped caring because I don't think Carly Simon ever said who the song was about. I thought there were rumors once about her song being about Warren Beatty, but I might be wrong.


TexitorFlexit OP t1_je9vqur wrote

Perhaps there’s a misinterpretation of the subject. When the subject is in the title and remains as the predominate focus throughout the song, it can only be about the subject. Until the lyrics are radically compromised, the song is about that guy.


m4070603080 t1_je9zwpm wrote

You think you're the smartest person in every room, but a Carly Simon song is sending you into total confusion lol


carlovski99 t1_je9b1v8 wrote

She also rhymes 'Yacht' with 'Apricot' in that song. So who knows what's going on.


amazeDastonishMenT t1_je9ptji wrote

What’s wrong with that? And who else in history has ever used the word gavotte in a song? And that bass intro? Sick! 🤜💥🤛


qxzqxzqxz t1_je9b34r wrote

I always got the sense that she was meaning the song was about herself and how she couldn’t move on. But, at the same time, he was so full of himself that he couldn’t help but think it was about him.

To me, it’s a great example of a song about how messy we all make our lives. Fantastic stuff.


TexitorFlexit OP t1_je9w1f2 wrote

The title and the chorus establish who the song is about


qxzqxzqxz t1_jea1s8o wrote

I don't get the sense that it's direct or obvious.


BeardedDragon1917 t1_je9jp2q wrote

Well, it would be pretty conceited to hear an anonymous song and assume it's about you, even if it IS about you!


RyeZuul t1_je9kugs wrote

She's talking about Starfuckers incorporated.


jsv1890 t1_je9l66s wrote

It was rumored to be about either

  1. Mick Jagger

  2. Warren Beatty

  3. Chris Kristofferson


AnikiRabbit t1_je9n75g wrote

I always assumed that the song was actually about her and her struggles with that person. Saying that he's so vain that even when she's trying to talk about herself having problems, he still thinks it's about him.


TexitorFlexit OP t1_je9w612 wrote

Because it is


AnikiRabbit t1_je9xksq wrote

That's a pretty vain way to look at it no? Lol.

The only way it makes sense is if the song isn't about him.

"But you gave away the things you loved And one of them was me"

It's filled with references to his behavior hurting her. The writing and performance of the song may have been therapeutic, and that could be the reason it exists.

She wrote it for herself. To help her feel better about falling for a vain person. But that's just IMO.


Ok-Leg64 t1_jea1nng wrote

But it definitely is about whoever so yeah


KenEsq t1_jeaaa1d wrote

She told two people that I know of Howard Stern (she told him off air) and Dick Ebersol (longtime ABC producer) who won a charity auction. Both swore to keep it a secret.

Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, David Geffen, James Taylor


ztmwvo t1_jec6boh wrote

Seems most commenters do not know the definition of “vain” or “irony.” From Webster’s dictionary:

“having or showing undue or excessive pride in one's appearance or achievements : CONCEIT”

A conceited person is likely to think that everything, including that song, is all about them.


JackKovack t1_je9055c wrote

I think she’s pretty vain for writing a song about someone being vain.


nz_tiger t1_je91r21 wrote

Stevie did like a bit of Stevie. Having said that, she added details of a number of men, knowing each would think it was solely about them.


Piccalina t1_je9himp wrote

It's about Warren Beatty


uncletipsy78 t1_je8zdqq wrote

It’s supposed to be about Warren Beatty , as far as I knew. But who knows . That dudes prick was on steroids god love him


SasquatchTamales t1_je8ypa9 wrote

I really don't like this song. Its clear to me she thinks she's hot shit and and thinks whoever she used to date are sitting there listening to her lyrics for jabs at themselves when in reality she is the one who is vain for thinking someone would care enough to do that. Some would argue she's being self aware but if she were that self aware do you really think she would be self deprecating enough to write a song about her own acknowledged vanity, knowing that the majority of people would take it at face value? Either way it's a shitty premise for a song in my opinion.


M-atthew147s t1_je8zg79 wrote

Jesus Christ mate it's jokey light hearted line in a song about her exes.

I don't think I have, and doubt other people do, thought that it can be inferred that she thinks she's hot shit? And what's the thing about acknowledged vanity???


SasquatchTamales t1_je911me wrote

Saying she was hot shit was a bit of embellishment on my part.There’s two takes to the song’s lyrics from my perspective; either she is writing a song about her exes in which she is calling them out publicly, in which case it’s not a joke to those people she’s writing about, or she’s using irony as others in the thread have said in which she’s referencing her own vanity as a music star in thinking that they would be listening in on her music for any reference to themselves. In either case I think it’s pretty cringe.


Seedy__L t1_je92ei0 wrote

Yeah, she was the first and definitely the last artist to include unsubtle digs at her exes.