Song Rebuttal: You’re So Vain

carlysimonHey, gang! Welcome to a new Rocknuts feature wherein we argue with a popular rock song. This is part of my effort to keep things fresh around here, so I encourage you (staff and friends of the site) to follow the lead and join me in the ever-present debate against the insane logic of rock and roll music!

The Song: Carly Simon’s 1972 hit “You’re So Vain.”

First of all, I just want to say that I grew up thinking Carly was talking about “clowns in my coffee.” This is terrifying. Is nothing safe from these unfunny painted nightmare-hogs?

Sponsored link (story continues below)

Second of all, it’s pretty clear that this song is about Mick Jagger, right? Is that not understood?

Let’s get to the meat of it:

My main problem with this song is that, in the chorus, Simon accuses the anonymous subject of the song (Mick Jagger) of being so vain, so impossibly conceited, that he (Mick Jagger) thinks that this very song is about him.

Which it is.

Let’s unpack the logic of that.

Maybe if we put it into an “If-Then” statement.

If you are so vain, then you probably think this song is about you. 

If we accept the premise of the song, then we know it is absolutely about the person in question. Thus, if we turn that previous logical statement inside out, we get this:

if you probably think this song is about you, then you are so vain. 

This means something completely different.

Of everyone that thinks that this song is about them, all of them are so vain. 

Compare that to:

All of us are vain, therefore this song is about us. 

There is a statistically insignificant portion of folks who have a dawning awareness that this song may actually be about them, but who are also not actually vain. They are (and I cannot stress this enough) insignificant.

Let’s cut the “probably,” and say that “If you are vain, then this song is about you,” since it is a song about how incredibly vain people can be. Assuming the song is about a specific person (Mick Jagger), Carly Simon probably wouldn’t have had the idea to write the song “You’re So Vain” about a person who wasn’t vain.

Therefore, the song is actually about the person that thinks the song is about him.

It is definitely vain to assume that most songs are about you. In this case, however, the subject of the song has fairly good evidence that he may have inspired it. If not for his vanity, this song would not exist.

Thus, it literally must be about the person who is so vain that they assume the song is about them.


Shouldn’t the song be called “You’re So Perceptive”?


Photo By Elektra (Original owned by uploader) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

7 comments to “Song Rebuttal: You’re So Vain”
      • Yeah I thought it was about James Taylor. Mick Jagger is not deep enough to fly to Nova Scotia to see a total eclipse of the sun, but maybe James Taylor would. At any rate, this song might not be about anyone in particular, or about various people. Maybe those that think it’s about them are the ones that are vain. If it wasn’t about anyone, then the lyrics would be true. I don’t know how it would be vain to think the song is about them though, because if that person actually did fly to Nova Scotia then they kind of know it’s about them. If this song were about me I would be hesitant to say “Yeah the song is about me.” but maybe I would say “Yeah I’m vain Carly, so it must be about me.”

  1. I had heard that the song was about Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, or Kris Kristofferson. But according to an article in the Daily Mail, it was actually about David Geffen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *