For decades, Carly Simon has been coy about the subject of her 1972 classic, “You’re So Vain.” But the question has a new temporary answer, at least until the Nov. 8 presidential election: It’s about Donald Trump.
In an video released on the eve of the second debate, Simon’s “You’re So Vain” plays over two-and-a-half minutes of footage of Trump talking about women and other issues, as well as soundbites from his critics. The video, available on YouTube and Facebook, was paid for by Patriotic Artists and Creatives, a pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC.
Simon, a long time Clinton supporter, quickly signed off on the idea after she was approached a few weeks ago, says Fred Goldring, who, along with Jon Vein, executive produced the spot. Goldring also produced will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” video in support of Barack Obama in the 2008 election, as well as the “Forward” anthem, featuring Ne-Yo, Herbie Hancock and others for the Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. “I connected with Carly through some mutual friends and I pitched the idea to her. She loved it immediately,” Goldring tells Forbes. It’s the first time the singer/songwriter has allowed one of her songs to be used in a political ad.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at a rally on October 1, 2016. (Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Not only did Simon give permission to have the song used for free (she, BMG Music Publishing, and Warner Music Group waived all master and synch fees), she agreed to re-record one line: switching “your scarf, it was apricot” to “your skin, it was apricot,” as a reference to Trump’s perma-tan. “I thought up the idea to change the lyric as it was just too perfect,” Goldring says. “Carly thought it was really funny and she recorded it at her house in Martha’s Vineyard and emailed it to me. A good friend, Nick Lashley, who is a super-talented musician, producer and engineer, was able to artfully dub it into the original master, which was very tricky as we weren’t able to locate the original stems off the master. Carly didn’t mind that it was not a perfect dub as the point was to let people hear it alongside the visual and ask themselves ‘did I just hear what I thought I heard?’”
Goldring says there are more videos coming from Patriotic Artists and Creatives between now and the election, though wouldn’t reveal any names or songs. There are no plans to do television buys for “You’re So Vain” ad, Goldring says.
Last year, Simon revealed that the second verse of the song—the one that starts with the line “You had me several years ago, when I was still quite naive”— is about Warren Beatty, but added that the other two verses are about two other men and that she’s likely to take their names to the grave.