The Village People were originally created by a French producer and promoter named Jacques Morali. The concept for the group started with the idea of appealing to the gay demographic in the disco scene of the 1970s. They got their name from Greenwich Village in New York City, which was known for its lively disco scene and active gay community.
Since this was back in the ‘70s, mainstream music didn’t really target the LGBT community. Such a concept was new, and nobody was really sure what would come of it. Each band member was meant to portray a different character. Was their image meant to target the gay community? Or their music? The group is behind some of the most popular songs from the American Disco era, including Macho Man and Y.M.C.A.
Here’s the story behind the Village People and the truth behind the iconic hit Y.M.C.A.
In 1977, the Village People released their first self-titled album, but the whole team wasn’t on board just yet. Phil Hurtt was a producer and songwriter from Philadelphia, and he made vocal arrangements during these sessions and was asked to be the lead singer of the band. Hurtt told Morali he didn’t want the role.
Even though Hurtt didn’t want the gig, he recommended using one of the background singers, Victor Willis, as the lead singer. Morali over-exaggerated the story and made it seem like his dream was to produce an album with Willis. As it turns out, it really just happened by circumstance.
Felipe Rose was the first Village Person. He was actually a dancer who worked at a gay club called Anvil, in Greenwich Village, New York. He was on his way to work when Morali noticed him. He was in full costume, which fascinated Morali, so he shamelessly followed him and started asking him questions.
Morali and his business partner, Henri Belolo, came out with the idea for Village People that night, with Rose in mind to play the Indian. He held onto the role until 2017 when Willis took over the group. In order to populate this village, Morali put ads in music trade magazines, which said: “Macho Types Wanted: Must Dance and Have a Mustache.”
Vocal skills weren’t even necessary because they weren’t going to sing on records. Felipe Rose and Victor Willis were already in, and they were the only two out of the eight band members to appear on their debut album cover. Next to join the group was Alex Briley. He worked in musical theater and was friends with Victor Willis. He got the role of the soldier (GI).
Then, auditions were held for the rest. Randy Jones got assigned the role of Cowboy, and David Hodo landed the part of the Construction Worker; they were both dancers. Tollbooth operator Glenn got the part of Leatherman – he’s the only Village person wasn’t already working in the entertainment industry.
Village People became the first disco performance to go in an arena tour back in April 1979. The Bee Gees filled arenas, but they didn’t go on tour until June of that year. Since Morali, the group’s producer, was French and didn’t know English, Phil Hurtt and Peter Whitehead were brought in as the chief lyricist for the band’s first album.
As a gay man, Whitehead wrote lyrics that Morali thought were way too sexual and crude for mainstream consumption. He asked Hurtt to clean them up, which he did. Hurtt was a proven wordsmith. “San Francisco (You’ve Got Me),” their first single, was more about having fun in the city and less about the gay community there, and it was an incredible success.
Their actual breakout single was the 1978 massive hit, “Y.M.C.A.” It got its name from the American Institution called “Young Men’s Christian Association.” It was intended to be a club for young men but turned into a popular hookup location for gay men. It should be noted that nowadays, YMCAs are family recreation areas.
The song wasn’t advertising for the organization at all. In fact, the YMCA wanted to sue the Village People. However, the organization quickly noticed their memberships were going up, so they decided to embrace the song instead. These days, the YMCA even features the hit song on their official website. The song has since become a classic.
After the massive success of Y.M.C.A., the Village People were contacted by the United States Navy requesting a similar song for them. The result was a song appropriately titled, In The Navy. The music video was shot on the deck of the USS Reasoner, a warship docked at San Diego Naval Base.
However, the US Navy didn’t end up using the song for recruitment. As we know, people weren’t as accepting of the gay community back then. Political groups started complaining about how US tax money was going to a “gay group” to advertise for the military. Thankfully, times have changed, and the world is becoming more accepting of different types of people.
“Macho Man” was another massive hit by the Village People. It peaked at #25 on the charts in 1978. Even today, the popular track is still used in movies, TV shows, commercials, and other forms of media. It was featured in hits like the Terminator, Addams’ Family, Nutty Professor, Simpson, and plenty more.
Almost everyone has heard this song because it’s been tied to pop culture. Saturday Night Live and even the Muppet show created a parody version. Disney even did a cover by the beloved Donald Duck called Macho Duck, which was featured on the Mickey Mouse Disco album. That’s not all. References to the song are apparent, and more tributes will likely be made about “Macho Man.”
In 1985, the group hung it up. Partly because they felt like their career was destroyed after their 1980 disastrous film, Can’t Stop the Music. The movie had a budget of $20 million and only made $2 million, making it one of the biggest losses in cinema history. Part of the reason the film did so terribly was that the popularity of disco was beginning to fade.
Sure, you can blame it on bad timing, but that wasn’t all. Can’t Stop the Music was the first-ever movie to win a “Golden Raspberry” award; it makes sense considering that the Raspberrys also started in 1980. In 1987, the group reformed and has been performing in various different ways ever since.
After their first album came out, Victor Willis wrote most of the Village People songs. He actually signed over copyrights to the songs but won them back in a 2013 ruling. They used a 1987 law that permits composers and writers to get their credit back after 35 years.
In 1980, Willis went on to perform a solo career, but in 1982, he came back. One year later, he left again and stayed completely out of the spotlight until 2017. At that point, he had received the rights to the Village People’s name and image from Henri Belolo, the group’s co-creator. He assembled his cast of characters, and they started touring again. The Village People became known as “The Kings of Disco.”
Surprisingly, Victor Willis is not gay. He frequently downplayed the gay references in the music, calling them universal themes. Willis was married to Phylicia Ayers-Allen during the band’s heyday. She eventually went on to star on the hit family sitcom, The Cosby Show. The couple got married in 1978, but eventually split up in 1982.
Like many other band members, Willis has struggled with substance abuse for years, even after leaving the Village People. In 2006, he got in trouble with the law and was ordered to go to rehab. Thankfully, he is now living a happy and sober life. In 2007, the singer married his second wife Karen; she is an entertainment executive as well as a lawyer.
Y.M.C.A. is arguably the most well-known Village People songs. I mean, everyone has heard it at least once. It’s not really a song you can escape; you hear it played on the radio, gym, movies, and stores. We already mentioned what exactly the YMCA stands for. If you need a refresher, it’s the Young Men’s Christian Association.
It was originally set up for city dwellers, particularly catering to men and boys. So what exactly is the true meaning of the song? Is it really just “fun to stay at the YMCA,” or is there a deeper meaning? As it appears, the Village People are pushing their values on the “young men” they are singing to.
According to the first verse, this guy is ‘new in town,’ and he seems to be stranded since he is homeless and broke. The band basically tells him that around here, the Y.M.C.A. is the place to go. More specifically, the organization would take care of him and give him his basic needs.
The YMCA was known as a location where men hookup, so why are the Village People telling him to go there? The song goes on to tell the young man that there are other people there like himself that he can have “fun” with… if you know what I mean. I don’t know; it seems like it’s suggesting something. But let’s look at verse number two to find out.
In verse number two of the song, the Village people allude to the fact that the Y.M.C.A. will assist him in getting his life on track and help him towards his dreams. Based on the song, it seems as though this man is proud to ask for help from the charitable organization. But they are telling him that the only way he can seek help is to swallow his pride.
Swallow his pride. How? What were they alluding to? At the time, acceptance was low, and being gay had a negative stigma associated with it (for no good reason). Is swallowing your pride referring to coming out of the closet?
In the song’s third verse, the singer empathizes with the man directly, explaining how he used to be in the same exact position. At a certain point, he too faced some obstacles and thought that nobody cared and felt as though the world was a very deceptive place. In other words, he was depressed. But now, he is helping this man the same way someone helped him.
How did the singer get help? From the YMCA, of course, and that’s where the young man should seek help, too. So once again, the same questions come up. Is he going to the YMCA for help with his sexuality? Considering the band wanted to target the gay community, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched.
To say the least, the Village People were an odd group. One of their unique qualities is that they catered to a gay audience, which was extremely uncommon at the time; it was far from the mainstream way it is today. So subsequently, listeners believed that this song was referencing gay intimacy.
As we know, the Y.M.C.A. was apparently the place for gay men to hang out and hook up with others like them. That’s why people speculated that the Village People are telling people to go to the Y.M.C.A. for a particular reason. It seemed pretty obvious, but Victor Willis, the band’s frontman, shot down these claims. He said the song was specifically referencing fun activities that the YMCA has to offer, like the gym, which is referenced in the song.
Despite claims from Victor Willis, it has become clear that the song likely has a gay origin, at least if you’re looking at it from a simple lyrical standpoint. The band seems to have found a man who is alienated and depressed and directing him to the Y.M.C.A. to alleviate those issues. It doesn’t really take a genius to figure it out.
When they sang about the YMCA, they knew exactly what the organization was known for. Yet, the YMCA is also a place that can help you with other issues. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. However, the controversy will always be part of the appeal of the legendary song.
Either way, Y.M.C.A. is an American classic, and there is evidence to prove it. First of all, the song made it to number one in as astonishing 14 countries, including Australia, Israel, and the United Kingdom. It peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also made the charts in 5 other countries.
The song also pops up on charts randomly from time to time. One example was in 1999 when it charted in the UK. More recently, it reached the charts in Italy in 2007. Y.M.C.A. is one of the few songs that sold more than 10 million physical copies. It’s not shocking that it has been certified as double platinum in three other countries as well.
Part of its charm is that the song comes with an unforgettable dance number. VH1 compiled a list of “The 100 Greatest Dance Songs of the 20th Century,” and put Y.M.C.A. high up there at number 7. The dance itself is very simple; people just move their arms to mimic the letters “Y-M-C-A.”
Supposedly, it was on an episode of American Bandstand, hosted by entertainment legend D. Clark in 1979. It quickly struck, and everyone started doing it after that. According to the Guinness World Record, the ‘largest YMCA dance’ record was set in El Paso, Texas, at the Sun Bowl (a college football game), on December 31st, 2008. Over 40,000 people participated.
The lyricist behind the iconic song, Y.M.C.A., is Victor Willis, the band’s frontman. He was cast as the Cop at the time, and Jacques Morali, the group’s producer. And reportedly, the concept was the brainchild of Morali, despite the fact he had no idea what the YMCA was.
Y.M.C.A. made its debut on Cruisin’, the Village People’s third album. Casablanca Records released the song as the lead single from the album on September 25th, 1978. Nobody ever thought the song would explode this much. The popularity exceeded everyone’s expectations, and it became a true musical classic for America’s long-gone disco age.
Believe it or not, since its release, Y.M.C.A. had its fair share of legal issues. For example, Henri Belolo (Jacques Morali’s business partner), was credited as a co-writer originally. That was up until 2015 when Victor Willis won a case to have Belolo’s name removed. Three years before that, he sued to have the rights to the song because they were previously credited to Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions.
The YMCA organization was extremely close to taking legal action against the Village People. When the song was released, it was a pretty easy case of Trademark infringement. The matter was ultimately settled out of court. It turned out to be free advertisement that benefited the YMCA.
The YMCA has become a highly recognized organization around the world. It’s mostly known for its gym, summer camps, and other communal activities. It has become an international organization, and obviously popularized by the Village People, but why did it start exactly? Well, it was actually created as a response to the Industrial Revolution.
Sir George William wasn’t pleased with England’s filthy living conditions during the Industrial Revolution. He started organizing various Bible meetings. These meetings quickly grew and ultimately became the Young Men’s Christian Association. Although it later became a place for men to meet and hookup, it really started off as religious classes for men. Who would have thought?
Believe it or not, up until the 1960s, mandatory nudity was common in American swimming pools (except for women who had to don a full bathing suit every time). The YMCA didn’t really have much of a stance on this topic. They allowed different locations to go by their own rules.
Yes, many YMCA locations enforced obligatory male skinny dipping. They claimed that naked members spread fewer bacteria than their fully clothed counterparts. That doesn’t sound accurate, but what do I know? Either way, since the club included full male nudity, it’s not very shocking that it later gained the reputation that it did – a place for young men to hookup.
As it turns out, the YMCA is the reason for one special holiday honoring the beloved male figures we have in our lives – Father’s Day. Sonora Louise from Spokane, Washington, first came up with the idea. He thought that having a special day dedicated to fathers is important and brought it up during a regional YMCA meeting.
Considering the YMCA began as a place where men can come together, the holiday made a lot of sense. Unsurprisingly, the organization fell in love with the idea. America’s first-ever Father’s Day Celebration was on June 19th, 1910. Nearly a century later, the special day dedicated to fathers is still being celebrated. Most people have no idea that it started because of the YMCA.
Here’s something you probably had no idea about the YMCA. The organization sponsored combat-ready “cigarette gods” during World War I. YMCA magazines frequently express the negative side effects of tobacco addictions. However, during a World War I publicity stunt, the agency decided to sponsor a group of specially-trained bulldogs so that they can carry cartons of cigarettes to nervous soldiers across Europe.
It was nice of them to send something for the soldiers. However, the dangers of tobacco are terrible and can lead to death. Thankfully, nowadays, we have much more information about the hazards of smoking cigarettes, and the YMCA, as well as other popular organizations, raise awareness of how bad tobacco is.
The YMCA isn’t the only song with questionable lyrics. “You’re so Vain” is a Carly Simon hit that fans have been speculating about for years. Who are the lyrics really about?
Carly Simon was a popular musician rising to fame in the early ’70s. Her infamous 1972 track titled “You’re So Vain” was a huge hit. The best part about the song wasn’t the catchy tune itself, but the mystery behind it. Audiences had no idea who she wrote the song about, but fans spent years speculating. Carly admitted that the song is written about three different people, but she only confirmed one. Can we figure out who the other two are? If you like mysteries, this one is definitely for you. If you’re not familiar, the exact line is, “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.”
Carly Simon encountered several musicians and actors in her day. She even dated some of them. We are going to go through all the people that the song “You’re So Vain” could have been about. We have some “people of interest” that were suspects when the song was first released, and additional information from Simon’s 2015 memoir, Boys in the Trees. See what Carly really thinks about these men plus, we included some interesting facts about her life.
Back in the ’70s, Warren Beatty and Carly Simon dated for a little while. He assumed the song “You’re so Vain” was about himself, which is pretty ironic considering the song lyrics, and he even thanked the singer. In 2007, he said: “Let’s be honest; the song is about me.” It turns out that Beatty was only half wrong.
During an interview with People Magazine, Carly admitted that the second verse is, in fact, about Warren. It only took her 43 years, but you know what they say, better late than never. She said that there are two other individuals the song is also about, but she is keeping those a secret. Maybe we can try and figure it out.
Back in the ’70s, Mick Jagger contributed his (uncredited) vocals to the background of the 1972 track “You’re So Vain.” It only made sense that the song would be about him. Fans immediately started speculating, but in 1983, Simon confirmed that the song was not about the Rolling Stone.
In 1993, a certain Angie Bowie re-sparked the rumors when she claimed to be the “wife of a close friend” mentioned in the song, and that for a long time, Jagger was “obsessed” with her. Simon ended up marrying James Taylor, but apparently, Jagger’s wife Bianca tried to break them up. She allegedly called Taylor the night before the wedding telling him not to marry Carly because she is having an affair.
Carly Simon married James Taylor on November 3rd, 1972- the same year the song was released. Naturally, suspicions placed Taylor as the subject of the song. Simon put those rumors to rest pretty quickly. In 1972, shortly after the song came out, Carly told Rolling Stone Magazine that “it’s definitely not James.”
She continued, “James suspected that it might be about him because he’s very vain. No, he isn’t, but he had the unfortunate experience of taking a jet up to Nova Scotia after I’d written the song. He was saved by the fact it wasn’t Lear.” I guess it’s safe to say James Taylor is most likely not the guy she is referring to in the song, although he seems to think otherwise.
About two and a half minutes into the 2010 version of You’re So Vain, you can hear the name ‘David’ whispered backward. I don’t know who has time to play these songs backward, but fans investigating said that this was a huge clue. It didn’t take long for suspicions pointing at David Bowie to arise.
He was already a suspect when the first came out. But rumors about the song being about him resurfaced after Carly alluded to her ex-lover in an interview stating, “I’m just going to tell you this, the answer is on the new version of You’re so Vain. There’s a little whisper – and it’s the answer to the puzzle.” It sounds like there is a good chance it’s Bowie.
Although David Bowie seems like a likely suspect, he isn’t the only David she could have been talking about. During an interview, Simon gave a hint as to who the man it. She said that his name featured the letter A, E, and R. When the song came out, Rumors that Simon referring to teen idol David Cassidy began to swirl.
Cassidy was an actor, singer, and guitarist, best known for portraying Keith Partridge on the sitcom, The Partridge Family. There were many other suspects at the time, but he moved up on the list after Carly gave that interview. His full name is David Bruce Cassidy. So far, he seems to check all the boxes.
Cat Stevens met Carly Simon back when she was an up-and-coming songwriter. Stevens is a British musician with various styles, including rock, folk, and pop. He later became known for Islamic music. Stevens was getting ready at the Troubadour for his first American show when he saw the singer for the first time.
The two had an on and off relationship for about seven months, so he was a viable suspect from the start. Cat also wrote the ballad Sweet Scarlet about Carly Simon, so fans thought You’re so Vain could have been a response. He was the inspiration behind her song, Anticipation, or “the ketchup song,” so he seems like a pretty likely candidate.
Another David, Carly could have been referring to on the 2010 version of the song, is David Geffen. Considering he is openly gay, the billionaire record producer may not be on top of the suspect list. However, his name does come up repeatedly when it comes to the mystery behind “You’re so Vain.”
In May 2014, Howard Stern revealed that Simon whispered three names in his ear. He said he thinks one of the names was Warren Beatty and the other David Geffen, but he “forgot.” I don’t know how reliable this is. Carly confirmed that Warren was one of the mystery men, but there are two others. Is it possible that she told Stern the truth, and he really just “forgot”?
Guitarist Dan Armstrong is another potential man behind Carly Simon’s infamous song. You’re So Vain. The two artists had a personal relationship that ended in 1971. She wrote a song called “My Fling” about Armstrong, so why wouldn’t she feature him in another song? Author Sheila Weller sure thinks so. She went into detail about their affair in the 2008 book, Girls Like Us, and suggested the song is about Dan.
Remember the hint we spoke about earlier? Carly revealed one of the men she is talking about has the letters E, A, and R in his name. Many people though the clue alluded to David Cassidy, but as it turns out, Dan’s full name is Daniel Kent Armstrong- making him another convincing possibility.
Back in 1965, Simon was 20 years old when she met Bond Star Sean Connery. She was on a boat with her sister Lucy, going from England to New York. The sisters tried to get the actor’s attention by sending him a note saying they are not “ordinary fans” and that their dad was the founder of Simon & Schuster.
It seemed to work because they got a phone call from Connery saying he will be down in 20 minutes. Because of their association, fans didn’t rule him out. Just like David Cassidy and Dan Armstrong, Sean Connery also has the letters A, E, and R in his name. This clue didn’t help narrow things down that much.
Before Carly Simons became a solo artist, she was working on a TV variety show as a producer. Marvin Gaye came to appear on the program, and Simon was instructed to go to his room to check if he needed anything. She found him with his shirt off, and Carly said: “He replied that he wanted to see something, and would I mind sticking out my tongue?”
She went on to say, “Marvin lunged at my face, swept my tongue into his mouth, and began sucking on it. I extracted it without inflicting damage.” Well, that is quite the encounter. I can definitely see why he made it to the suspect list. However, there are too many possibilities, so we can’t be certain.
After spending the night at Simon’s apartment, she woke up and found Nicholson in bed, making business calls. Her first thought was that he was trying to impress her. Unfortunately, she was a bit off. He admitted to the singer that he was also seeing another woman and was developing strong feelings for her.
Simon’s response was, “I really like seeing you, and I’m glad you told me before I invited you to my wedding in which you were my groom.” Simon didn’t have that deep of a connection to Nicholson, but he did bruise her ego. It makes perfect sense that their brief fling inspired Carly to write the song.
After meeting through the LA music scene, Carly Simon and Kris Kristofferson spend a “slam-dunk deranged month or so” together. She was impressed by his songwriting skills and especially loved his song, “I’ve Got to Have you.” At first, she only had nice things to say about him, but after they shared a plane ride, her opinion of him changed.
Simon was scared of flights, so as the plane took off, she put her head on her lap. Kristofferson wrapped his newspaper over his head “like a tent” and didn’t want “anything to do with the possibly sick or frightened woman he had in his hands.” She used to admire him, so people speculate that her disappointment may have inspired the song.
Another conceivable man behind “You’re So Vain” is Bob Rafelson. Simon and the “Five Easy Pieces” director were involved in a brief romance. They were on-and-off lovers for several weeks, but there was one problem, Rafelson was married at the time. Carly wrote that “he eventually told his brilliant, beautiful wife, Toby, about me during a karma cleaning session.”
Do you think the song can be about the filmmaker? It seems unlikely, but Simon said herself that other than Warren Beatty, the two other men she’s referring to have no idea. It can really be anyone at this point. They did have a sexual relationship at some point, so maybe when he went back to his wife, Carly decided to sing a song about him.
Terrence Malick is a famous director but also kind of an enigma. He never shows up for his movie premieres or does interviews to promote them. Here is another thing you didn’t know about Malick; he was involved in an affair with Carly Simon. While the director was working on a story for the New Yorker about Che Guevara, a mutual friend introduced them.
Simon said, “I listened attentively as he talked with a kind of fervid enthusiasm for Che that I secretly hoped he might have an iota of for me, too.” She did, however, go on to say, “Still, Terry and I weren’t the easiest fit.” She doesn’t seem too broken up about it, but Malick became a suspect due to the nature of their relationship.
Carly Simon’s father was Richard L. Simon, one of the founders of the publishing house Simon & Schuster. The successful company allowed Carly and her siblings to have a unique upbringing. Growing up, she split her time between the family’s Greenwich Village townhouse, and at their other estate in Stamford, Connecticut.
When they were in the Stamford house, the family was frequently surrounded by celebrity guests. Before she was a singer, Carly already had a small taste of fame- well, second-hand fame. She knew the elites of the time, including Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Charles Addams. That sounds like a pretty cool way to grow up. Carly’s favorite celeb to hang out with was a Dodgers baseball player.
Surrounded by famous faces, the family was friends with Jackie Robinson, the Dodgers player who broke the baseball colors line. The Simon’s even let the Robinson’s stay in the house with them while their Stamford house was under construction. Carly attended numerous games at Ebbets Field, even sitting on shortstop Pee Wee Reese’s lap in the dugout.
The team even made Carly a Dodgers jacket and let her be their unofficial Mascot. Simon wrote, “Jackie even taught me to bat lefty, though it never took.” She went on to say, “He always had the cutest look around the side of his mouth, as if he were thinking about what he was about to say before he said it.”
The Simon’s had money, but the household wasn’t all glamour. Like many other perfect looking families, not everything was how it looked. Apparently, the house was filled with secret sexual assault assignations. The singer wrote about how her sexual encounters began when she was just seven years old. Sadly, she is still trying to recover.
Carly also wrote in her memoir that she had an extremely difficult relationship with her father, and he would often let his aggression out on his kids. Her mom, on the other hand, was too busy having an affair with a much younger man. If things couldn’t get worse, her father was kicked out of the company he founded and died young. After that, the family’s fortune disappeared.
It’s no surprise that Carly is still trying to recover from it all. After she went to visit her boyfriend in France, Carly suffered a nervous breakdown. She started going into a psychoanalysis session five days a week to start her healing process. Unfortunately, the expensive therapy sessions cleaned out her “small inheritance,”
When speaking about “Dr. F,” telling her she was done, Carly wrote: “Looking back, I assume he must have caught a whiff of that pungent, sour aroma of future bounced checks, the scent of a patient on the cusp of exhausting her funds.” This was a rough time, but thankfully, Carly’s success helped ease her financial struggles. Her psychological scars need a lifetime to recover from.
In 1966, the day before Carly’s 21st birthday, she got a call from the one and only Bob Dylan. He was calling to encourage her to sign with Grosscourt, the same management that was handling him. He really hoped she would record “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down,” and would have even written some of the lyrics for her.
When Simon and Dylan met, he talked mostly about how amazing Nashville was- he recently returned after going there to record Blonde on Blonde. Surprisingly. Carly didn’t worry too much about impressing Dylan. She wrote, “Thank God, he was stoned, which meant I didn’t have to worry too much about making a good impression.”
Dylan ultimately “re-wrote” the song “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” for her. Simon tried to record it with Albert Grossman- an unnamed producer whose identity could have easily been discovered with a little effort. Anyway, the session didn’t go very well. The producer kept setting the melody too low for her.
The producer knew what he was doing, and Carly almost felt like she was being sabotaged. In her book. Simon didn’t shy away from expressing what her theory is. She believes the situation could have been “as payback for me not responding to their sexual advances.” She also went on to say that she couldn’t prove it. In light of the #MeToo movement, things are finally started to progress when it comes to sexual assault, especially in Hollywood.
Simon and Taylor had a seemingly happy marriage and two wonderful children together. Unfortunately, the toxic relationship went back and forth between ecstasy and agony. It was plagued by infidelity, ego, and drug use. This obviously caused a strain on their marriage, especially drug use. Taylor even tried to quit heroin once by shooting up in front of his wife.
Simon recalled the scary moment when James Taylor did heroin in front of her. “Chemistry was in the making, and somehow all the components made their way into a syringe, and as he pulled the rubber tight on his arm, the veins became purple and frightening.” I can’t imagine what it must have been like to witness that.
As we mentioned, Cat Stevens is one of our suspects about who Carly wrote You’re So Vain. In April 1971, Carly flew him out to California, where she opened for him at the Troubadour for five nights. This opportunity provided Carly with her first trip to Los Angeles, a memorable experience, and her first major exposure.
The singer got a taste of what fame would be like. When she was checking into the Hyatt, she met Kris Kristofferson (another You’re So Vain prospect). After her first performance, Carly went into her dressing room, where she found James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. That seems like a pretty cool way to kick off a music career.
When she was seeing her therapist, Carly left him shocked after telling him that she spent the night with Warren Beatty. It wasn’t who she slept with that blew the therapist’s mind; it was the fact that she was the second person that day to tell him they spent the previous night with Beatty. “I wasted little time telling Warren,” Carly wrote in her memoir.
I knew he might have something to add or refute. He did howl over the phone. I’m sure he was adding numbers and going over facts in his mind and maybe took out his calculator or calendar. Could he have slipped up? Could this have really happened? All to his credit that he was up for the hilariousness of the situation.”
When she was working her way up, Simon found a job working as a secretary. Her one-month gig was for a producer on the TV show, From the Bitter End. Unfortunately, her short-lived position was partially because “my shorthand was non-existent.” She was basically working as a gofer for guests on the show. As we mentioned, one of the legendary names she met there was Marvin Gaye.
“My first task: go to Marvin Gaye’s dressing room and see what he needs. When I arrived, Marvin was bare-chested, and when I asked him what I could do for him, he replied that he wanted to see something, and would I mind sticking out my tongue? When I obliged, Marvin lunged at my face, swept my tongue into his mouth, and began sucking on it.” Gross.
She went on to say, “I extracted it without inflicting damage. From there, I went to the dressing room of the comedian Redd Foxx. As I knocked and entered, Redd let his famous red fox fur coat fall to the floor, revealing his naked body underneath. Laughing at my startled expression, he gestured me over, but I’d already turned on my heels.”
I don’t know how any of this behavior was acceptable. I know it was a different time, but still. Can you imagine how both of these guys must have made her feel? There is a lot of progression involving women in the workplace, but the fact that these men were just acting in this way as if its normal is disgusting. If it were me, I’d be completely traumatized.
Carly Simon and Warren Beatty’s affair was no secret. Especially since she confessed he was one of the three men that her hit song, You’re So Vain, is about. Even though she knew he was considered a ‘player,’ Carly succumbed to his advances and found him charming and irresistible. His pick-up technique? Taking out a piece of paper with the “main loves of his life.”
Carly was flattered when she saw her name next to Catherine the Great and Marie Curie. Surprisingly, whenever they had sex, Beatty made sure to call the next day. “He remembered the names of my mother, sisters, brother, grandmother, old boyfriends, streets where I lived five years ago. With his groundbreaking memory, he seldom if ever got confused.”
He was pretty good at keeping track of his ladies. However, he did slip up once. He went to visit Simon on a Sunday night after midnight and told the singer he just flew in from Los Angeles. Carly expressed, “Warren seemed to have just created a brand-new manual on how to make love – not too brazen, not just missionary, but not too many trick either.”
The next morning was when Carly went to see her therapist (not the one she spent her inheritance on). We mentioned how the therapist heard this all from someone else. He literally said to her, “You are not to the first patient of the day who spent the night with Warren Beatty last night.” What I find interesting is that two women he was sleeping with were in therapy!
A significant part of Carly Simon’s life and memoir Boys in the Trees is about her relationship with James Taylor. She said that as kids, they briefly met on Martha’s Vineyard; as adults, they spent a decade married to each other. Carly detailed the first time she and Taylor met in her dressing room back in 1971.
“He was barefoot, long-legged, long-footed- and his knees were bent. He wore dark red, loose, wide-wale corduroys and a long-sleeved Henley with one button open, his right hand clutching a self-rolled cigarette. His hair, simultaneously shiny and disheveled, fell evenly on both sides of his head, and he wore a scruffy understated mustache, the kind so fashionable back in the early 1970s.”
She continued, “He seemed both kempt and unkempt. Even sprawled out on the floor, everything about him communicated that he was, in fact, the center of something – the core of an apple, the center of note.” After their encounter, James Taylor left with Joni Mitchell, his girlfriend at the time. Carly obviously felt something because of how vividly she remembers their meeting.
It doesn’t seem like she was the only one who felt the magic. Later that same year, Taylor and Simon started dating. Reportedly, the couple spent a lot of time on his Vineyard property. There was a natural pond at the end of the driveway where Taylor liked to plant willow trees: He decided to name the pond “Carly’s Bottom.”
As we mentioned, Mick Jagger was considered a major suspect when it came to the men surrounding the song “You’re So Vain.” We mentioned how Jagger sang background for the song, but that wasn’t the extent of their relationship. The singer admitted that when she first met the Rolling Stone, she “found him sexy.”
She explained, “Naturally, I flirted with Mick. I mean, who wouldn’t? if a woman didn’t flirt with Mick, it could only mean she had a cold sore, or she’s been brushed off by him already.” The singer went on to say that she felt “electricity” vibrating between them and that their sexual tension came to a climax when they were recording You’re So Vain.
Carly didn’t stop there. She continued writing, “I wanted to touch his neck, and he was looking at my lips. The electricity was raw and hardly disguising power. Having sex would have actually cooled things off.” The singer never said whether she and Jagger consummated their relationship, but we know his wife Bianca definitely had her opinion.
She even called Taylor James the night before his wedding telling him not to marry Simon and that she is cheating on him. “James said, I’m sure that’s not true. Carly has told me about it, and it’s not what you think. I trust my wife-to-be. I trust Carly.” Still, the flirtation between Jagger and Simon continued for years. He would even send flowers to her hotel under a fake name.
As we mentioned, people thought Carly wrote “You’re So Vain” about Sean Connery. She was with her sister Lucy on a boat when they noticed the movie star and wrote him a letter. He actually responded, and the three of them had drinks. Carly revealed that when after walking him to his Cabin, he asked the sisters if they were interested in having a threesome.
They declined his offer. However, Lucy spent the following night with the Scottish actor. Years later, for the 1977 James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me, Carly recorded the song, Nobody Does it Better. The movie starred Roger Moore as opposed to Sean Connery, but still. It’s a cool coincidence.
After 11 years and two kids with James Taylor, the couple divorced. Carly then married Jim Hart, and they were together for 20 years. What she didn’t know was that Hart was secretly gay. He later admitted that the first time he went to her house, he was checking out her ex James Taylor and couldn’t stop staring at the handsome singer. He even calls his biceps “large and pulsating, and announced a sure strength.”
Hart eventually came out in 2007. Carly just woke up one morning and said: “I think you might be gay.” She wasn’t scared of it, she really just wanted him to be truthful. He described their tumultuous marriage in his 2017 memoir, Lucky Jim. Carly was the one who encouraged Jim to write the memoir, no matter what it revealed.
As we know, Carly Simon and Jack Nicholson had a fling, making him a suspect in the list of men her song You’re So Vain could have been about. While he was filming Carnal Knowledge with “Bugs, Artie the Garf, and Mike the Nick” as he liked to call them. Nicholson spent a couple of nights in Carly Simon’s New York apartment.
There first night together, Nicholson came up with his seductive pick-up line after she made him coffee. “We chatted for a few moments, and then he said, offhandedly, ‘Do you ever drink coffee in your bedroom?’” I guess you didn’t have to try too hard back then. As we know, their short-lived romance ended when Nicholson developed feelings for another woman he was sleeping with.
Before Carly Simon and James Taylor’s ugly divorce, they had two children together: Sally and Ben. I guess they have strong genes considering both of them are singers. In a 2004 interview, the singer revealed that they don’t even speak these days, “I would say our relationship is non-existent. It’s not the way I want it.”
In 1987, Carly married a writer, poet, and businessman named Jim Hart. In 2007 they got divorced, and as we mentioned, he came out of the closet. In 2008, Simon started dating a surgeon named Richard Koehler. He is ten years younger, and reports say they actually began seeing each other in 2006. As of 2015, the couple was allegedly living together in Martha’s Vinyard.
Another popular line featured in You’re So Vain, is “clouds in my coffee.” With all the mystery surrounding the song, Carly decided to reveal what exactly this line means. According to the singer, the lyric came “from an airplane flight that I took with Billy Mermit, who was my friend and piano player at the time.”
She explained, “As I got my coffee, there were clouds outside the window of the airplane, and you could see the reflection in the cup of coffee. Billy said to me, ‘Look at the clouds in your coffee.’” That’s one mystery solved. Now to figure out who the song is about! Even if we think we know, we probably won’t know for sure.
There are a lot of possible men that the song You’re So Vain might be about. It’s been almost 50 years since the song first came out, and Carly Simon only revealed one name- Warren Beatty. She said there are two others and even gave subtle hints as to who they are, but we can’t be certain.
It is fun to have audiences guessing for almost half a century, but do you think she will ever tell? Simon did say that the two other people she is referring to in the song have no idea, and she doesn’t want to tell the world until they know. Meanwhile, she must be having so much fun watching us try and guess. Which two of our suspects do you think she’s writing about?