Carly Simon’s Breakthrough: ‘You’re So Vain’

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The iconic No Secrets album cover

It was a #1 smash and propelled its album, No Secrets, to the top of the album chart. And for Carly Simon, it seemingly happened so fast.

Her first two Elektra Records albums, both from 1971, had each reached #30 on the sales chart. Carly Simon included the #10 hit “That’s the Way I Always Heard it Should Be”; the title cut from the follow-up LP, Anticipation, was a #13 single.

With a pair of hits under her belt, the songstress recorded No Secrets in London. Just weeks after marrying James Taylor on November 3, 1972, the album (with its iconic album cover photo) was released on Nov. 28, with a slew of guest classic rock musicians: Bonnie Bramlett, Nicky Hopkins, Jim Keltner, Bill Payne, among them. Jim Gordon, Klaus Voormann and an uncredited Mick Jagger (on backup vocals) performed on “You’re So Vain.” That’s Voormann on bass in the intro right before Simon coos “Sonofagun…”

Simon in 2015 (Photo: Heidi Wild via AXS TV; used with permission)

The single, released that Nov. 8, includes the well-known lyric “You probably think this song is about you” and for decades fans have devoted who Simon was singing about. Years later, she solved the mystery and revealed it was Warren Beatty. The single’s success–it hit #1 in the U.S. on January 6, 1973 where it stayed for three weeks–as well as its follow-up, “The Right Thing To Do,” established Simon as a true superstar.

Related: What were the biggest radio hits of 1973?

[Simon, who celebrated a birthday on June 25, reported on her Facebook page that she fell and broke a hip on June 19, 2018. She’s recovering from surgery. “All of a sudden,” she wrote, “I have a new friend: a titanium ball I’m going to call, you little fucker.”]

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Now fans can watch her perform a previously unheard verse of her huge 1972-73 hit, “You’re So Vain.”

A TV series called Classic Albums devoted an episode to No Secrets, highlighted by an extensive look at “You’re So Vain” from Simon and producer Richard Perry, as the two share anecdotes about the rigorous recording session, Mick Jagger’s backing vocals, and the amusing revelation that the song’s subject loved knowing that he was the inspiration behind the enduring hit.

The program was topped by Simon singing a discarded verse she wrote for the song for the first time ever. No Secrets remained at the top of the Billboard 200 for five weeks.

Watch a clip of the program including the previously unheard verse of “You’re So Vain”

Simon went on to have another three Top 10 U.S. singles: 1974’s duet with James Taylor on “Mockingbird” (#5), 1977’s “Nobody Does it Better” (the theme song from The Spy Who Loved Me) and 1978’s “You Belong to Me.”

Simon published her memoir, Boys in the Trees, in 2015.

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3 Comments so far

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  1. Jack
    #1 Jack 7 January, 2018, 07:11

    I was 12, going on 13 yrs. old when this album came out. That album cover was every young pubescent boys dream. I bought it for the cover alone.

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  2. Spcwriter
    #2 Spcwriter 13 January, 2018, 17:20

    Shame she never toured and went into hiding what a waste of talent!

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    • Joe
      Joe 30 July, 2018, 04:41

      Heavy stage-fright. There’s a
      recording, maybe video, of her ‘choking’ and the audience trying to encourage her along. Touching, painful

      Reply this comment

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