Carly Simon’s first hit, “That’s the Way I Always Heard It Should Be,” was to me her finest hour, or at least her finest four and a quarter minutes. When I first heard it, I figured I’d heard the last of her; the scenario, in which our narrator resigns herself to a marriage far short of ideal, is downright scary, and downright scary first singles generally do not lend themselves to a long and happy chart life. I was wrong, of course; Simon continued to have big hits for several years, none of them bigger than “You’re So Vain,” about a mystery man who might even have sung on the session — that is, if you thought it was about Mick Jagger. Others argued for Warren Beatty. Simon, sensibly, said nothing, and maintains her silence to this day.
Then again, the No Secrets album, from which “You’re So Vain” was released as the first single, drew rather a lot of non-musical attention because of its cover photo, shot by Ed Caraeff in front of the Portobello Hotel. Herewith, to celebrate Simon’s birthday this week — she turned 68 Tuesday — an outtake from that photoshoot:
It wasn’t as blatant as, say, Boys in the Trees, six years later, but then again, that was six years later.