Can an eclipse be vain? 

An event 45 years ago today contributed to a line in one of the most famous songs of the 1970s, which also is one of the best selling hits of the rock and roll era. 

March 7, 1970 marked the most recent total solar eclipse which was visible over large parts of eastern North America. Totality occurred over Mexico for three minutes, 28 seconds, and parts of Florida for three minutes, 10 seconds. Much of Georgia and the Carolinas experienced totality, as did Atlantic Canada. 

The hooplah over the 1970 eclipse was stunning. I have seen clips on YouTube of a CBS News report on the eclipse. Children across America threw fits that morning, since CBS pre-empted its Saturday cartoons for eclipse coverage featuring Charles Kuralt. 

In late 1972, Carly Simon released her iconic single “You’re So Vain”. Over 42 years later, only Carly and one other person knows the subject of the song. It’s believed to be her ex-husband, James Taylor, although one can’t be 100 percent certain. 

In the third verse of “You’re So Vain” comes the line “Then you flew your LearJet up to Nova Scotai to see the total eclipse of the sun.” When the song was released, it was believed to be the eclipse of July 10, 1972, which was only visible to Atlantic Canada, but in truth, that line refers to the March 7, 1970 eclipse, since Simon wrote the song before the 1972 event. 

However, right before mentioning the eclipse, she mentions “I hear you went up to Saratoga, and your horse naturally won”. That refers to the Saratoga horse racing course in upstate New York. There’s no way there would have been racing in early March. 

If New Orelans residents get the shivers over hearing “You’re So Vain”, it’s with very good reason. That song was #1 on the Billboard charts when embittered ex-Black Panther Mark Essex, an Emporia native, went on his deadly rampage, killing two policemen on New Year’s Eve, and then murdering seven more people the following Sunday at the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge in the city’s Central Business District.  I wonder if New Orleans stations put a moratorium on that song in the immediate aftermath of Essex’s reign of terror. 

Miami Dolphins fans may have much sweeter memories of “You’re So Vain”. It was still atop the charts when the Dolphins completed their 17-0 season by defeating the Redskins in Super Bowl VII. 

I’m not a big fan of “You’re So Vain”. My favorite Simon song, “You Belong To Me”, didn’t come until 1978. 

FYI, Mardi Gras has not fallen on March 7 since 2000. You’ll never believe where I spent part of that Mardi Gras. NO, it was not the French Quarter, nor anywhere in New Orleans..

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on March 7, 2015, in History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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