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Interview with Carly Simon

Aired March 10, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 1972, Carly Simon came out with one of the most recognizable lines in music history, establishing herself as an innocent household name. The New York-born Simon never revealed who the accused was behind "You're So Vain".


ANDERSON: But her list of high profile relationships, from Mick Jagger to James Taylor, kept fans guessing.

This year, Simon has announced a contest on her Web site, inviting fans and filmmakers to create a music video using the original or a new version of the song. Over the last few decades, Simon has had a number of other international hits, including "Working Girls'" "Let the River Run" and has earned an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Grammy for her work.

Her most recent album, "Never Been Gone," was released last fall.

An iconic phrase from an iconic star -- Carly Simon is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: And I sat down with her recently in London. And I started by asking her to tell me about her latest album before we got onto the question of the day, of course.

This is what she said.


CARLY SIMON, SINGER/SONGWRITER: My new album "Never Been Gone," is a metamorphosis. It is a re-play on the old songs and seeing what fun I could -- I could have with them and -- and how I would interpret them now, at this point in my life.

ANDERSON: Did you have fun making it?

SIMON: I had really fun making it. It was over a long period of time. It was about a year, because my son, Ben, whose idea it was, was out on tour. So every time they came back, the house became a studio again and every room had a microphone in it and we were all ready to -- to turn off the motor in the refrigerator and start and start singer.

ANDERSON: You've also announced a contest on the -- on the Web site, asking fans and filmmakers to create a music video using the original or new version of "You're So Vain".


SIMON: There's never been an official video of "You're So Vain." There's never even been an unofficial video. And I thought it would be just so wonderful for my fans and for -- for filmmakers and anybody who wants to -- to make a video. And that the first place winner will have it shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in April in New York City.

ANDERSON: Carly, we've got a whole bunch of viewers questions.

And Beverly in Tampa, Florida asks: "So, who is the mystery man behind "You're So Vain?""

It's the big question. It's a big question that's been around for some 38 years.

She says: "Is it Mick Jagger or Wayne Newton? My money," she says, "is on Wayne Newton. Thanks."

SIMON: Is she being funny?

OK. No.

Is she?


SIMON: I've never heard the Wayne Newton answer -- answer before. I have heard the Mick Jagger one. It is not Mick Jagger. I say it's not Mick Jagger and people still keep on asking me if it's Mick Jagger. It's not. I didn't even know Mick Jagger when I wrote the song.

ANDERSON: James Taylor?

SIMON: No, it's not James Taylor. So I've given...

ANDERSON: David Geffen?

SIMON: David Geffen?

Now, that's a whole other new exciting possibility. I'm thrilled by that and I can't answer yes or no. I'm just very excited that somebody has brought David Geffen's name into the contest.

ANDERSON: You're not going to tell us, are you?

SIMON: Tell you?

I've -- I've told you millions of times, you just haven't seen it.

ANDERSON: Viewers, it's up to you.

Jeremy asks: "We always hear other musicians picking you as their music influence. Who are your musical influences?," he says.

SIMON: My musical influences are vast, Frank Sinatra being a very strong musical influence from when I was very young. Later on, The Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley and then -- and then, very importantly and very significantly, Cat Stevens. And all the singer/songwriters -- Joni Mitchell, they are just -- there are many...

ANDERSON: Too many to mention?


ANDERSON: Martywalpole writes and he says: "You sang the theme song for the movie "Working Girl," a movie starring Melanie Griffith" -- and Harrison Ford, of course. "What inspired the lyrics to that song?"

And let me tell you, a number of members of the staff here at CNN play that DVD again and again and again just for that song.

SIMON: What inspired the lyrics to that song were that it is -- if you watch the movie, it's about the jungle that is Wall Street. It reminds me a little bit of the CNN work shop out there and Santa's little helpers. And I -- I wanted to write a -- a jungle hymn. And so I -- I consulted Walt Whitman, who I consider to be the -- a foremost poet on New York City, and got some lines, got some feelings from there.

And I sat down at the piano and played some chords that sounded like a hymn and imagined a lot of wild native drums from the old Dutch pioneers. That's really how it came out.

And -- and -- and I saw the vast, wonderful sky scape of New York, the silver city's rise, the morning lights, the streets that lead them and sirens call them on with a song. I was -- I was getting a little -- a little, you know, seriously...

ANDERSON: Existential about it?

SIMON: Yes. And, you know, sort of -- sort of urban bucolic.

ANDERSON: Heather asks: "What is your favorite song by somebody else?"

SIMON: A song called "How Can I Tell You?" And it -- it's just so simple and it teaches me so much about songwriting because it -- it -- it skips little wonderful fanciful beats that go on in your -- in your brain waves all the time. The way Cat Stevens does it is magical.

ANDERSON: The last question. Derek and a number of other people say it was Warren Beatty, wasn't it?

SIMON: What are you talking about?

Hey, woman, get a grip.

You asked that before.


ANDERSON: I didn't ask whether it was Warren Beatty and many people think it is.

But, anyway, she wasn't going to tell me, was she?

Fabulous -- Carly Simon.

And we are keeping it in the family. For tomorrow's Connector of the Day, he's related to one of our previous Connectors. Abby Sheck Bachon (ph) is the son of two Hollywood icons and he's a superstar in his own right. He'll be joining us tomorrow and answering your questions. So head for that type to get involved,