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

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This ad for the album appeared in the Dec. 16, 1972 issue of Record World

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…”

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, born June 25, 1945, reported on her Facebook page that she fell and broke a hip on June 19, 2018. “All of a sudden,” she wrote, “I have a new friend: a titanium ball I’m going to call, you little fucker.”]

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

Now fans can listen to 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 Record World sales chart for six weeks.

Related: The album overshadowed new releases from some of rock’s biggest bands

Listen to the previously unheard verse of “You’re So Vain”

Related: Our Album Rewind of No Secrets

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. After years of being eligible, she was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022.

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5 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.

    Reply this comment
  2. Spcwriter
    #2 Spcwriter 13 January, 2018, 17:20

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

    Reply this comment
    • 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
  3. cap'n Mike
    #3 cap'n Mike 7 January, 2019, 00:24

    Quite a few YouTube of her earlier days with The SImon SIster with Oscar Brand. Canadian folk songs late ’50 and early 60’s

    Reply this comment
  4. Beachbum
    #4 Beachbum 12 November, 2020, 19:08

    Carly Simon is an amazing woman ! Beach bum Brian from cape cod Massachusetts sends you love ☮️

    Reply this comment

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