In case you haven’t heard – or are willfully ignoring it, like the group of people who attempt to avoid discovering the victor of the Super Bowl every year – one of the great mysteries of pop music has finally come undone, albeit partially. In an interview with PEOPLE magazine, singer-songwriter and proto-Taylor Swift Carly Simon has revealed that the second verse, at the very least, of her seminal hit “You’re So Vain” is, as many suspected, about Warren Beatty. With a great sigh of relief, I’m certain, James Taylor can rock himself to sleep, and Mick Jagger has finally achieved some level of satisfaction, depending on the geography of his egotism in 2015.
What Simon also did in revealing Beatty as her muse, however, was take some of the intimacy out of listening to music. To be frank, I’d really rather she wouldn’t have done that. It isn’t so much that she’s ruined “You’re So Vain” – the classic rock stations in Charlotte, North Carolina, that seem to think Simon only ever released one song already achieved that in my youth – but she did manage to remind us that, as much as we want to feel closer to the musicians we love, they are eternally out of reach, mingling with people more famous than we in parties on yachts, dressed in white clothing after Labor Day like the bourgeois bottles on the top shelf that they are.
To be clear, I’m only half-serious, but that half is deadly serious.
I’ve been to a lot of shows in my day. Sometimes, they’ve been in tiny little local venues with not ten other people in the crowd. Sometimes, they’ve been in stadiums—like the Taylor Swift concert I went to on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. Okay, I’ll give you a few minutes to judge me, musical elitists. But yes, I paid an obscene amount of money to dance and sing along in the pit at the show of America’s most beloved serial dater and I don’t regret it for a second.
A lot of people have a lot of opinions on Taylor Swift. Some of them are violently negative, some of them are violently… positive (actually, though—there are people out there doling out death threats to those that don’t like her, aren’t there?). There are some indisputable facts behind these opinions, like that her album Fearless is the most-awarded album in the history of country music, or that—if you’re into dudes—she’s probably dated your celebrity crush (and you kind of hate her for it #Haylor2012NeverForget). As someone who—reluctantly at first, and then wholeheartedly—enjoys Taylor Swift’s music but enjoys her as a person a bit less enthusiastically, I would like to go on record stating that Taylor Swift is the absolute best at what she does.
Now, I had thought I’d seen it all in terms of teenage hysteria when I saw One Direction at Jones Beach last month. But this was my first Taylor Swift concert, and I don’t know if it was because there was a much larger crowd, or Taylor’s been around a bit longer, but this was a whole different monster. In one group of girls, each had a cardboard letter around her neck and when they stood in order they spelled “T SWIFT,” and they walked in circles around Patriot Place for a solid hour before the stadium began admitting people, just screaming nonsense. There was one girl in a red semi-formal dress who took it upon herself to entertain us with karaoke versions of Taylor’s songs on the stairs next to CBS Scene. One girl literally painted her entire body red. There were parents, there were teenagers, there were young kids, there were girls dressed up as KISS (???), there were bros decked out in homemade TaySwift gear and there was even one creepy middle aged guy dressed as a king at the show alone (you bet we all kept an eye on him). I learned a lot about Taylor and her fans that evening. Here are some of those things: