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.
Courtesy of myself
Each turn of the calendar at New Year’s brings tradition and hope. For the night itself, for the many opportunities which lie before us and for a carrying on of the memories we created in the previous twelve months. Amid the repeated choruses of “Auld Lang Syne” and Ryan Seacrest’s face invading your television live from Times Square, it can sometimes seem rote to imply that a new year means a fresh start with entirely different ideas to the ones in which we’ve become entrenched. Sometimes, however, retreating to what we know best, a place of comfort, allows us to freely move to a new stage of our lives and get better at whatever it is we’re striving to become, with the people most important to us there for support. Sometimes a combination of the two is the best way.
In the interest of full disclosure, here is a somewhat abridged account of my relationship with the Avett Brothers as a musical entity: one night in the autumn of 2008, when I was probably seventeen years old and a junior in high school, I was riding in the backseat of my friend Carrie’s blue Jeep with two of my other good friends, Justin and Morgan, around the streets and highways of South Carolina. Cycling through the tracks on a mixed CD and/or the shuffle function on her iPod (I can’t remember for certain, but I know there was a huge collection of CDs in that automobile), she landed on something that was new and exciting to me but which had become, to my admittedly much cooler friends, something of a way of life. This was the first time I heard the opening strums of “Die Die Die,” the first song on the 2007 album Emotionalism, and it tore up every Hendrix-laden notion of my personal preferences at the time. Bruce Springsteen once said of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” that it “sounded like somebody kicked open the door to your mind.” In the context of my own teenage taste, the same explosion happened in that Jeep.