something I can never tire of

October 9th, 2008

I dunno

I can’t tire of Paul Simon’s music. I’ve written about this before, I’m sure, probably on some previous blog.

The man’s a true poet, and that’s a shockingly rare thing.

There’s something fundamentally humane in his music, a calm acceptance of the sadness and beauty of life, something that sees just how far we’ve fallen and just how far we’ve transcended.

Listening to American Tune, for example, as I did not five minutes ago, one feels incredible despondence and yet amazing hope at the same time.

It’s really hard to put your finger on. I’m sitting here racking my brains desperately trying to figure out how to describe Rhymin’ Simon’s music. It’s not possible, at least not for me. It’s something lying deep within the structure of the music and the poetry that elucidates and encapsulates the human condition, but only in the most subtle, subconscious way. It’s in the ease with which he slips through styles. It’s in the tone of his words, the tone of his choice of chords, the relaxed suppleness of his voice.

Yeah, I dunno. Listening now to Still Crazy After All These Years, a live version in which you can hear echoes of the audience singing along, and if I just close my eyes… I find myself sitting on the fire escape of some New York apartment watching the traffic and totally content with the world and totally at ease with all the contradictions and insanity of this existence. And yet I’ve never been to New York, or anywhere that side of the Pacific.

‘scuse my ramblings. It’s just one of those weeks. And tomorrow’s another working day and I should be getting my rest.

2 Responses to “something I can never tire of”

  1. Matt Schiavenza Says:

    Beautifully done. I too am a big Paul Simon fan, and still believe Graceland is one of the most underrated albums of all time. The title track in particular is moving; a meditation of lost love and the idea of salvation in Elvis’ old residence. I also love how so many of the songs are somewhat mundane and hardly multicultural, despite the presence of West African musicians. Quite a juxtaposition.

    And the concert in Central Park was actually quite a significant event for its time. This was 1981, when New York was in the middle of a fairly long malaise. Just a few years earlier, the city essentially went bankrupt and Gerald Ford (a mostly forgotten US president) refused to bail them out. A serial killer roamed the streets murdering women for a whole summer, while the power went out for three days and large sections of the city burned uncontrollably. The city was so unsafe that people hardly went out at night, alone. Central Park itself was off-limits. Around this time, a white man shot four black teenagers on the subway and was lauded as a hero.

    That Simon and Garfunkel could organize a free concert for hundreds of thousands of people, pull it off, was an enormous boost to the city.In 2008, this occasion would have largely been unremarkable. But in 1981 it was quite significant.

  2. wangbo Says:

    Thanks Matt. Here I was thinking that was probably the worst post I had ever written and I should probably delete it before anybody sees it….

    Yeah, I remember listening to my mother’s vinyl copy of the 1981 Central Park concert over and over (when I was home alone, of course), and I remember seeing it on TV (not in 1981, of course, I was only 5 then), and there certainly was something magic to that concert. Yeah, I really wish I could’ve been there.