So, yes, Carly Simon told People that she wrote the middle verse of “You’re So Vain” about Warren Beatty. But why did she write it? What caused this witty observation about the Oscar winning director and nominated actor?
The story of Warren is told in Carly’s spellbinding new memoir, “Boys in the Trees,” coming out on Tuesday. And it’s a doozy.
They met when Carly played the Troubadour in West Hollywood in 1971. It was just when “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard it Should Be” and “Anticipation” had launched her into the stratosphere. Beatty came backstage.
She writes: “What a glorious specimen of man. He put them all to shame, if looks and charm were what you were after.
He homed in like a tracking dog. It was mysterious because it worked and it shouldn’t have. Now, when I say it worked, I mean it was irresistible. He had to have me as a notch in his belt, a belt where the greats could mix warmly with the rich, the famous, and the fair.”
Beatty, she says, had several women going at once, and kept a list with his “mains” at the top. She knew this and knew what she was getting into. “I could see that I was right up there above women like Catherine the Great, Marie Curie, Maria Tallchief, and Lillian Hellman.”
Simon tells the story of what led to “You’re So Vain”: Beatty flew into New York and came right to her house in the middle of the night for a night of lovemaking. From Los Angeles, he told her he “had” to see her, and missed her. She was charmed, and giddy. He left her place at 5am to be on a set Alas, this would turn out to be untrue– hold on…
Later that day, Simon visited her therapist, in whom she confided that Beatty had really been present for her, and was really “himself.” She felt as if he were into her and only her.
The therapist had something to say.
It was then that I noticed Dr. L looked unwell. He had a pallor that scared
me, and I thought he was going to be sick or do something violent or that
he might die on the spot. I asked what was wrong and sat forward in my
chair. He said:
“Under the circumstances, I can’t withhold this. It’s too much to
believe . . . it’s unbelievable, in fact . . . I suppose . . . I suppose I will tell
you . . . that . . . You are not the first patient of the day who spent the night
with Warren Beatty last night.”
It was 11am Carly noted, and she was only his third patient of the morning. She writes:
“Poor Dr. L must have in fact wondered whether we women hadn’t put together some practical joke. He must have thought he was going crazy.”
Beatty, Simon reports, “did howl” when she confronted him, and their relationship ended not too long after that.
And, of course, there was no set to report to. In 1971, Beatty made two films– “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” and “$ (Dollars).” Neither of them was shot in New York.
PS Beatty 2015: happily married with four kids. We await his movie about Howard Hughes, still untitled, which finished shooting in June 2014.