Sexual Anthropology in Carly Simon's “You're So Vain”

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

You're So Vain is a fantastic song by Carly Simon (born 1945).

Carly Simon “You're So Vain”

Lyrics

(whisper: «son of a gun»)
You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they'd be your partner
They'd be your partner, and…

You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You're so vain, I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you? Don't you?

You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
Well you said that we made such a pretty pair
and that you would never leave

But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me
I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee and….

You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you…

Well I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun
Well, you're where you should be all of the time
And when you're not you're with
Some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend
Wife of a close friend, and….

You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you…

Humanity

Let's do a little reading of the lyrics.

So, from the first stanza, we discern that there's this girl, who remembers this guy, down to every of his mannerism and gestures. His gait, the color of his scarf, and, what's on other girl's minds about him.

Apparently, the subject is some vainglorious cock, and a justly vain one, whose vanity adds to his power in at least his womanization, to a point that a girl write a song about his vanity. Effectively, his vanity is not in vain.

Then, the lyrics goes “You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive, …”. The “had me” refers to carnal knowledge. The sentiment expressed is not atypical of women.

Unfaithfulness of a love partner is usually a major problem to the victim regardless of gender. For male victims, the problem is far more severe than female victims, because, if the wife sleeps around, the husband's chances of getting offspring is severely reduced. (the wife may beget other men's offspring.) However, if the husband sleeps around, the chances of the wife begetting offspring is not reduced much or at all (the mortality of the progeny, might suffer due to absentee husband.). Due to this biological nature, males tend to react badly when their love partner copulate with other men, while, females are more tolerant of unfaithfulness. (In many cultures especially in the past, unfaithful wifes are condemned to die by law.)

In this song, as the female find her ex-lover abandoned her, she grieves by writing a sarcastic song.

The lyrics: “But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me; I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee and…”.

This line described her state of mind in a beautiful way. It is not a secret, that she still thinks about this ex-lover, and subtly attributes philanthropism to him, saying he gave away things he loved. And the dream that are clouds in her coffee, is just a beautiful nondescript description of her sorrow.

Although females can still beget offspring if their lovers fck other women, but the major distress to females would be disloyalty, i.e. abandonment. Because, due to the physically weaker nature of the female sex, a single mom is less able to ensure the survival of her offspring than a single dad. Thus, for females, emotional disloyalty or abandonment, is their pain. We can hear it in this song in disguised humor.

The rest of the lyrics gets cryptic. According to the Wikipedia article on this song (You're So Vain ), there are literal interpretation of the line about horse race in Saratoga, and the total eclipse of the sun in Nova Scotia in 1972. But if we forego the geography and astronomy history checking and just look at the lyrics… What kind of man would have his “horse naturally won”, or, going to see the “total eclipse of the sun” in parts of the world? (in his “Lear jets”). Apparently, it's gotta be some rich man, yet seems like leisurely — some of the best qualities in a mate women can dream of. Note here, these facts, if facts, are noted by the girl. Apparently, these things bore in her mind in her resentment. And, we learn, that this vain cock appears to be at the right places all the time, and when not, is either with some VIP or doing hanky-panky.

Nova Scotia Google Map is a Canadian province located on Canada's southeastern coast.

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