Paul Simon

Still 5'3 After All These Years
*special introductory paragraph!
*The Paul Simon Song Book
*Paul Simon
*There Goes Rhymin' Simon
*Still Crazy After All These Years
*One-Trick Pony
*Hearts And Bones
*The Rhythm Of The Saints
*Songs From The Capeman
*You're The One
*So Beautiful Or So What

Paul Simon stinks.

The Paul Simon Song Book - CBS 1965
Rating = 7

In 196whatever, after Simmons and Gynecological's first album sank like a stone 'cuz it stank like a scone, lead singer and axeman Paul "Stanley Gene" Simmons moved to London to gather his thoughts and attempt to be a short poet. He and his acoustic guitar recorded a whole bunch of quite awfully good compositions and voila! After Tom Wilson added full band backing to "The Sounds of Silence," the duo reunited and spent the next two albums re-recording this fine selection of hooky material. Two of these tracks had already been recorded for It's 3:30 In The Morning And This Is Our First Album, five others would wind up re-recorded for The Sounds of Silence and a remaining three would eventually weave their magical webs onto Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme, leaving a mere TWO Song Book compositions unrecorded by Simon & Garfunkel proper -- until 1999, when a newly-released 1967 concert CD gave the world a completely unexpected duo rendition of Pauly's anti-racism protest anthem "A Church Is Burning." And I can call him 'Pauly' because we hang out. To his face, I usually call him 'The Dink' or "Ol' Smelly," but for our purposes here today I'll call him 'Garfunkel.'

Let me tell you something about Paul "Garfunkel" Simon. When he was young - say, in his 20's - the man was a virtual gigantic tub full of hooky brain-teasing folk-rock melodies. Plus, although the man has never had a terribly interesting voice (though certainly friendly and pleasant), you put it together with Art Garfunkel's angelic falsetto or tenor or whatever in Hell he had, and the result was absolutely God-esque in its Heavenly St. Petersy Corpses With Wings Playing Harps. So don't let it be said that I'm a Paul Simon Hata by trade or compulsion -- it's just that once he hit 30, he lost his vocal counterpart and simultaneously became more interested in incorporating non-pop elements into his music than coming up with anything close to a decent melody. But let's return to The Paul Simon Song Book for a moment.

If you're a Simon & Garfunkel completist, the only song you will find unfamiliar on here is a melodically forgettable but lyrically haunting anti-war protest entitled "The Side Of A Hill." Unlike your usual anti-War anthem [eg "War" by Edwin Starr, "War Crimes" by D.R.I., "War Is Over (Simply Having A Wonderful Christmastime)" by Lennon/McCartney], this track is about a soldier accidentally killing a little boy. "A soldier cleans and polishes a gun," Paul sings accusingly, "that ended a life of seven years." Wouldn't that suck to be shot to death when you were only 7 years old? I think we're all in agreeance that it would, but Paul Simon is the only one courageous enough to say it in song form.

So basically what you're looking at here is a Simon & Garfunkel album without the Garfunkel. Paul sings all by his lonesome with only the sounds of his strummed and arpeggiated acooustic guitar as accompiment. Still, more than half of the songs are undeniable folk rock masterpieces, even without Garfunkel wailing away on his Flying V(ocal chords). Sure, there are a few Stinkerton Beginkertons (yawn "Leaves That Are Green," pbbbl "He Was My Brother," trying so hard to be clever you want to strangle the pompous little piece of shit "A Simple Desultory Philippic"), but I don't see ME writing "I Am A Rock," "April Come She Will," "The Sound Of Silence," "A Most Peculiar Man," "Kathy's Song," or "Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall," so FUCK ME, ASSHOLE!!!!

No, I'm serious. Bring your vagina over here and fornicate my penis.

Well then BORROW a vagina. What, am I talking to my ass here?

Damn, I just fornicated my own buttock. It faked me out by dressing up like a vagina.

I'm about to blow your mind, so I hope you're sitting down:

This 'record review' was written by a 33-YEAR-OLD MAN.

I know because I saw him run out the back door. Hey, get back here Jesus! You Jewish Asshole!

Add your thoughts?

Paul Simon - Warner Bros. 1972
Rating = 6

The brilliant Bridge Over Troubled Water behind him, Paul Simon immediately said to himself, "You know what? I think I'll hop on my motorcycle and literally drive it over a shark," thus beginning a crusty, rotten solo career full of bland Adult Contemporary filth, Black Person's Soulful Music (White Man's Soulless Perspective), Smooth Jazz D-Lites, and a mere TWO noteworthy world music excursions of much greater melodic interest than similar efforts by Peter "Ol' Sledgey The Sledgehammer Sledgin' Everybody" Gabriel.

This first one isn't bad though. It's certainly a diverse piece of work, hopping from genre to genre like a frog crossing a stream in which every lilypad sounds like a different style of music; unfortunately, Paul's already halfway into his 'it doesn't matter if there's no melody as long as it actually sounds like the musical style I'm copying' artistic phase. In these 11 tracks alone, Paul presents his visions of reggae, acoustic guitar jazz, McCartney-esque swing pop, funk, salsa, acoustic folk blues (3x!), calliope carnival music, and New Orleans gumbo, with a mere sole single sorrowful track reminding us of what an emotionally evocative folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel could be. When combined with a catchy melody or interesting arrangement, these experiments work just as well as BOTW's similar excursions into Spanish music ("Cecila"), Latin-tinged exotica ("So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright"), and Peruvian zarzuela ("El Condor Pasa"). When not, they sound like James Taylor walking around Epcot singing along with everything like an asshole.

Paul Simon's best-known tracks are the popular hit single "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard" and equally-popular shit shingle "Mother And Child Reunion," a vomitous reggae confection that apparently finds 'hope' in the possibility of a child dying in order to be reunited with its mother in Heaven. The other tracks find Mr. Simon singing half-complete stories about the pain of divorce, NYC paranoia, runaway slaves, loss of virginity, drug abuse, and unhealthy living. Some fairly interesting subject matter, and lots of intrigugintingignrt musical embellishments as well, with different songs surrounding Paul's acoustic guitar with such instruments as piano, organ, flutes, vibes, harmonium, bass harmonica, violin, horns, charangos (The South American Super Ukulele!) and assorted percussive implements. You know what there's hardly ANY of though? Drums! Though there are light thumpings here and there, only "Mother And Child Reunion" and the bouncy yet melancholy "Run That Body Down" feature actual drum lines as we've come to know and love them. This might sadden all you drum fans out there.

I honestly really love five of the eleven songs. "Duncan" sounds for all the world like "El Paso Condor Part 2: El Segundo Paso Condor," Paul's evil blues passages and intense string attacks in "Armistice Day" are a revelation, and oh! Others! Don't even start me talking about Others! (Especially "Papa Hobo" and "Paranoia Blues," which have all the melodic resonance of Ashlee Simpson's worthlessness).

(Not that I'm putting down Ashlee Simpson) (even though her approach to everyday life makes one wonder if her brain is smothered in deer ticks.)

I repeat: although Paul's love for a good tune is still in evidence, it's clearly going the way of the passenger pigeon. So catch it while you can, oh fading star of dusk!

Wait, that's not a star....


Heh heh. The kids love my Ed Asner jokes. They're all like, "Yeah Mark! I'm 15 and The Mary Tyler Moore Show is 'what time it is'! It's totally 'extreme' and 'my bag'! '23-Skiddoo!'"

Then we play "Congo Bongo" on Colecovision like today's top athletes (Boog Powell, Mark "The Bird" Fidrych).

Reader Comments
MARK FIDRYCH?? Yeah, more like VERN RUHLE! HA!

And that's my only comment on this Paul Simon album. Oh, except this: Paul Simon was great as a host on SNL, but his music doesn't excite me a bit. His death metal album was okay though.

(Boog Powell? Yeah, more like JOHN CANDY!)
hey mark,

i'm surprised at the low rating. i thought you would at least like/mention the gorgeously fucked up and irregular melody and chords in "everything put together falls apart." that alone ought to raise this album to a 7. lyrically it's as to-the-point as any song can get without being bland or preachy. musically it's out of this world. i don't understand how he wrote that. the guitar-work is great, the chord changes, as i've mentioned, MAKE NO FUCKING SENSE, likewise for the melody, yet it all sticks together and sounds wonderful. i figured you'd like something like that!

personally, i find "mother and child reunion" bouncy and catchy (i dig that opening drum fill and guitar), so another plus. you've mentioned "run that body down" (a nearly perfect composition - nothing special, just great, great pop). "peace like a river" is moody and beautiful. argh, there are so many good songs here!! i'll admit, i dont have a boner for "duncan," except for those little flutes, which are, i dunno, sad? melancholy?, nor for "armistice day," which i find almost offensively bad, for some reason. the hobo/blues/hobo blues little medley is cute. the closer is ok.

anyways, i think you're being a bit unfair. :-) there are five songs here which are pretty undeniably great. even on the not-so-great ones, the songwriting is superb! and i always appreciate good songwriting - so often even good bands just skimp on the chords or ingenuity, but not here. that, in the end, is the allure of this album. more than the many moods/genres/styles, more than the melodies (although some are pretty great). it's just that damn songwriting. plus simon's voice is so pretty. like a girl!

Add your thoughts?

There Goes Rhymin' Simon - Warner Bros. 1973
Rating = 3

It's the smell of a garbage truck filled with urine. It's the sight of a greasy naked midget vomiting digested human feces into a dog carcass. It's the feel of waking up to find your entire body covered in live maggots....with stingers. It's the taste of two dozen convicted felons' AIDS-ridden semen overflowing from your stapled-shut mouth. It's the sound of There Goes Rhymin' Simon.

The brothers on the street have long suspected that Paul Simon isn't nearly as African-American as he looks, and this album seals that deal with a kiss of shit. Paul may be sincere in his love for reggae, soul balladry, Dixieland, r'n'b, electric blooze, smooth jazz and call-and-response gospel, but sincerity does not equal 'being any fucking good at it.' As such, this album only has two good songs. Neither of them are "Kodachrome." Sure, I like it when it speeds up at the end. We all do, and so does America. But can you remember a single thing about the rest of the song, other than maybe the way he says 'crap' in the first line because he's too much of a puss to say 'shit'? If so, clean your ears out with bleach; surely they've developed an infection after all those years of funneling cat piss into them.

I'm told that Rolling Stone magazine ranked this album #267 on its list of "500 Greatest Albums of All Time." My supposition is that the editors of Rolling Stone only own 267 albums, because there's NO FUCKING WAY any member of my Positive Youth generation could sit through this wretched collection of boring, wimpy, instantly forgettable, hookless, gross, 'mature' soft jazz-pop failures without jamming the record into a blender after about 10 horrifying minutes. You know that yucky '70s keyboard with the high pitch that you hear in punch-in-the-facingly cutesy hip-hugging songs of the era like "Margaritaville" and "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life"? That's a Fender Rhodes, my man. And that is all over this and the next several Paul Simon albums, making every last song sound like a Gino Vanelli mellow jazz docent. So dig in! The water's grate!

I do really like two of the songs though, so let's get down to business. Skip that bit above where I said Paul couldn't do call-and-response gospel; just don't read that part at all. Because he can and did -- "Loves Me Like A Rock" is a wonderful, heart-warming, and (for a change) catchy, possessing an actual hook track that just busts all a-sizzlin' thanks to group vocals by The Dixie Hummingbirds, a group of African-American hummingbirds that sings while banging their noses ag

If you're a big Paul Simon afficionado who assumes that my other 'fave rave' on here must be the mega-popular "American Tune," beloved by no less a man than Art Garfunkel, it's possible you have a different definition of "agonizing sub-McCartney ballad" than I do. Nosir, the song I'm referring to is the hypnotically discombobulating juxtaposition of awesome dark arpeggio breaks and laid-back post-hippy James Taylor strummy faggoty horsecake entitled "Learn How To Fall." In a delightful turn of events, this song was actually released as the b-side to the "Loves Me Like A Rock" single. So if you own that 45, you've saved yourself the cost of the album!

Short summary: (a) Paul Simon's weedy, wimpy, white voice set to (b) assorted Af-Am musical genres in (c) compositions driven by the mighty (awful) Fender Rhodes and (d) containing no memorable musical passages at all.

Long summary: Subject matter includes nostalgia, the death of the American Dream, the bitterness of Art Garfunkel, Paul's baby and Paul's mommy. The absolute nadir of the release is undoubtedly the bone-headed 'Jamaican' accent Paul uses in the dopey reggae "Was A Sunny Day." Sample: "All dee buh-dees in dee trees!" YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ANYBODY GODDAMMIT YOU'RE A FOUR-FOOT-ONE JEWISH COWARD.

I've no proof that Paul Simon is actually a coward. I know he's Jewish though because he wears that yarmulke everywhere he goes.

Wait... that's his HAIR!?!?

Reader Comments
Neh-neh-neh-neh-neh-neh-neh-no. I'LL tell you what's the yuckiest keyboard tone ever made up in the universe of crap: That irritatingly high shrieking piercing yelling early '80's EEEEE! EEEEE!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! noise that anchors songs like The Fabulous Thunderbirds' "Simply Irresistible" (For Destroying This Song) and Wham!!'s "Footloose" (Up George Michael's Bum). Yeah, Prince (Of Darkness) uses it too, but makes it warbling and weird, and therefore, kind of useful. I LIKE Fender Rhodes, actually. So does Starostin, oddly enough. You might have a little Socratic argument with him concerning that. Entitle it "Ion II: The Ancient Greek Rock Critic Strikes Back" and then publish a follow-up, entitled "The Even Lesser Hippie-Ass: Where They Went After Hendrix Destroyed Their Hearing (Solo Paul Simon)"

In conclusion, thanks for using reverse psychology on me, Prindle, as always. I'm sure that was your sole intent in writing all of these reviews. Rhymin' Simon and Crazy After All These Years, here we come!!! (And I DO mean "CU

(update, like three years later)

There goes rhymin' SIMON?? More like there goes rhymin' PRINDLE!!

As in, he rhymes.

While he goes.

(with lies)

Actually, I sort of agree--this isn't anyone's version of one of the best albums ever. It DOES, however, show evidence of a talented man. Paul Simon, much like the man who wrote the seminal (literally) "Suck My Ass It Smells," is one of those guys whose style just rubs so many people the wrong way, one might miss the songwriting prowess beneath the wuss.

Now, I realize my obsession with "hooks" that caused many an angry smelly person to attempt to write a 20,000-word treatise on the Stooges page with me as the subject and the words "fuck" "cock" and "suck" included might be coming back to haunt me here, but aforementioned smell-balls did have a point--hooks aren't everything. Take Bob Dylan--does he ever have hooks? EVER?? Does Jeff Buckley? Nick Drake? KLAUS SCHULZE??? So why are they so beloved?

Hard to put into words. Let's just say the art of "songwriting" often seems to be separated from the art of "it's got a beat you can dance to it". Does Joy Division gots said art? They gots said art. Does Tori Amos gots said art? Well. . . she used to. So, with that in mind, do the songs on here go beyond the old "HAY! (straw) Don't think about it too much! It's POP!! Have FUN!!!" *fart*

They do--most of them. Hooks really only show up on the opening and closing tunes, but the rest get by on two things: 1.) Melodic consistency without overt catchiness, 2.) Intricate, McCartney-esque production (seriously, the band on here sounds EXACTLY like Wings), and 3.) Paul's voice. Seriously. Laugh all you want, but the man gots the GIFT, dood! All he does is sing the melody wimpily like a white wuss, but he sounds so GOOD doing it! Kind of like John Lennon, but without the bile or Elvis influences.

Hell, even when he HAS no hooks in his songs, I think he does. That's how good he is at faking me out (as admitted in his infamous 1968 chart-topper, "Faki

THAT SAID, I have no use for "Something So Right" or "One Man's Ceiling is Another Man's Fall," and neither does anyone else. And CHRIST'S BEARD, but does the man need LESSONS in sequencing albums or something? On Bookends, he shoves the whole "concept" onto side one and all the "hit singles" onto side two. On Graceland, he ends with both The Zydeco Disco Circus and Los Lobos taking a dump for two tracks. And on Rhymin' Simon, he puts FOUR BALLADS IN A ROW ON SIDE ONE. PHOUR. fOuR. WHY, short man. Why.

Still, "Kodachrome", "American Tune," "Was a Sunny Day," and "Loves Me Like a Rock" are all wondrous touchstones. Perhaps critics were just impressed by those four tunes and otherwise thought a white short white man like white Simon (who's white) doing soul, Dixieland jazz, and bloooooze was just FABulous. That, and he was from New York or some bullshit.

Oooh, screw that. Kodachrome is beyond touchstone. It's golden. Because of that tune alone, I give the album a seven.

Still, it's all too slight to laud very much. Simon's a very talented man, but he's just tossing off stuff here.

"CU"--not so much. More like a light "SQUI".

Add your thoughts?

Still Crazy After All These Years - Warner Bros. 1975
Rating = 2

Great news! If you've long been discouraged by the logistics of cramming an entire overflowing toilet into your CD player, now there's Still Crazy After All These Years!

This would be a good time to discuss the subjective nature of music appreciation. For some reason, a single set of tones, notes, melodies and beats inevitably creates wildly different images and feelings in the brains of different listeners. This doesn't mean that anybody is 'wrong' because they like a band you think is shitty (although it might mean that they haven't heard the band's precursors and obvious influences); it just means that due to nature, nurture or neither, their brains release endorphins upon encountering different audio information than yours.

So clearly, what I hear as 'vomitous smooth jazz' is hitting a lot of peoples' ears as something somehow... positive. To me, this is tedious, limp, boring, hookless '70s AOR jazz-pop garbage -- like Chuck Mangione, or Steely Dan with their packages chopped off. And I don't think it's just that I hate jazz chords, because I (believe it or not) DO get a kick out of the way Steely Dan uses them. But in this context, with that goddamned Fender Rhodes and its keys that probably even LOOK like a pussy, augmented by Paul's flat, uncharismatic voice singing smarmy songs about how he can't keep a woman because he's an asshole -- it fucking ANNIHILATES EVERY POSITIVE FEELING IN MY BODY. I could be having great screw, just about to reach my crisis in flaming squirting glory, and the first five seconds of "I Do It For Your Love" would have my penis not just softening but actually shriveling up and falling off. You want an analogy? Here's a goddamned analogy: SIMON & GARFUNKEL IS TO PAUL SIMON AS THE POLICE IS TO STING.

From now on, I'm referring to this album as Paul Simon The Mustachioed Pud. Hooks? Hell no! Faggy white jazz anus pop? Tons! 12-bar-blues-derived chord changes? Check! Gross cocaine '70s sleaze ballads? Billions! I'm saying this right here, and I'm doing it for the kids: "Some Folks' Lives Roll Easy" is, without exception, THE WORST KIND OF MUSIC EVER RECORDED. With special guest stars David Sanborn and Michael Brecker on dueling saxophones, Modern R'N'B FUCKING KICKS ASS in comparison. And that sentiment goes double for the smug adult contemporary title track, the "May The Circle Be Unbroken" rewrite "Gone At Last," the tailormade-for-a-wife-swap soft rocker "Have A Good Time," and the blooooooozy loooooooouzy guitar licker "You're Kind."

Have you ever heard that song "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover"? "Slip out the back, Jack/Make a new plan, Stan/You don't need to be coy, Roy" - that one? Neat dark acoustic chord changes with a busy, swingin' drumbeat and hotcha disco chorus? IT'S THE ONLY GOOD SONG ON HERE. I'M USING CAPS TO GIVE THE IMPRESSION THAT I'M YELLING AT YOU. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH. WHAT KIND OF WORLD ARE WE LEAVING IN WHEN AN ALBUM THIS BAD SCORES FOUR HIT SINGLES? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. OH YEAH. THE 1970'S.

Oh, who am I kidding? If an album sells a lot of copies, that means it's really good.

A+ - Robert Christgau

Reader Comments
Bullshit, Prindle. As the Police is to Sting?? Low blow, sir, even from you. I mean, would you claim Nick Cave needed the Birthday Party and its HEE-HAW?!? Exactly.

I think our musical listening habits explain our differences of opinion here. You had a point earlier there when you mentioned that no member of your "Positive Youth Generation" could sit through a typical Paul Simon record without shoving it into a blender. As, indeed, neither could MY generation. But this is NOT MUSIC OF EITHER OF OUR GENERATIONS, dammit. This is pansytown, happytimes, flower-ville, pussy wuss cutesy-poo bell-bottom radio pop straight from the heart of the Pet Rock itself, and to treat it as something somehow, um. . . NOT kicked in the balls is to try and fit a square peg into a round hole. Yes, this is non-classic-rock popular music from the Seventies. Of COURSE it's going to sound like a smarmy used Kleenex. I guess when I decided to listen to it, I was prepared for that (ironically enough, by your review), and all the negativity that apparently hit YOU like a smelly wall of shit when the record came on hit my ears as something somehow. . . positive. Call me crazy, but sometimes, one's just in the mood for a "gross cocaine '70s sleaze ballad." Or ten.

This is the best album of Paul Simon's musical career, as far as I'm concerned--yes, even better than Bridge Over Troubled Water. It's got the man's usual songwriting gift, but with an extra layer of cohesive maturity that, oddly enough, cancels out his usual McCartney-esque wimpiness. And by "maturity," of course, I mean "sounding like a self-centered jerk who loves the sound of his own voice," but it's a good voice, so I like it too. Yeah, it's Seventies anus-pop through and through, but there's just this untraceable weariness about the whole thing that keeps it from sounding pussy-ish or over-happy at all. It's an intelligent work from an intelligent man, as opposed to. . . well, in your words, James Taylor walking around EPCOT and singing along with everything like an asshole.

Yeah, the melodies may be a little over-subtle, but they're there down deep. Once they hit, they're inescapable.

And "Some Folks Lives Roll Easy," the worst music EVER RECORDED? Come on, there are better candidates. Like. . . er, I don't know. Surfer Rosa. Random badly-sung two-minute joke-punk that everyone luuuuuves but me. Yeah. That. (Speaking of which, could you please kindly tell the Cows, the Swans, and other indie rock bands next time you see them to PUT THEIR GODDAMN MUSIC ON RHAPSODY FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK? What kind of sense does it make for the entire Michael Bolton discography to be available in unlimited amounts and underground bands to only be hearable in hardcopy? Jesus. No wonder bad bands are popular.)

Anyway. I may be subconsciously homosexual, but I like this. Better than that boring Graceland, anyway. He stole half the songs on that one, anyway, so it doesn't count.

Although, I will admit, the cover photo for this album is disgusting. Who does he think he is, Burton Cummings with a codpiece?

Add your thoughts?

One-Trick Pony - Warner Bros. 1980
Rating = 3

Hey I'm a guy with the police officer department. I think it's pretty obvious that Paul Simon is guilty of recording some pretty terrible records, so today we're going to arrest him.

PAUL SIMON: Wha - what are these handcuffs for? Wha - what is going on?

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: Your records stink so you're under arrest for aggravated ear assault.

PAUL SIMON: But I... I heh heh... but wha -

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: Let's take One Trick Pony for instance, since you're wearing a baseball cap on the cover like a dumbass.

PAUL SIMON: But that was music from my film! I made a dramatic film about an aging singer/songwriter who had to decide whether to sacrifice his integrity for a final chance at stardom. Unfortunately it came out to mixed reviews - and the soundtrack album didn't do nearly as well as I'd hoped. It was a period of great depression for me. I was immobilized.

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: If it's any consolation, it was also a period of great depression for anyone who listened to that dung-flavored record.

PAUL SIMON: Hey, come on. I'm serious. I had to see a psychiatrist afterwards. I said to him, "I'm here because, given all the facts that I'm young and I'm in good health and I'm famous - that I have talent, I have money - given all these facts, I want to know why I'm so unhappy. That's why I'm here."

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: Aside from the 'I have talent' part, I have no argument with this.

PAUL SIMON: We began to talk, and among the things I said was "I can't write anymore. I have a serious writer's block, and this is the first time I can't overcome it. I've always written slowly, but I never really had a block." I was really depressed.

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: "Writers' block"? Couldn't you have just churned out a bunch of mealy-mouthed wimp jazz pop fucking garbage like your last few albums? How fucking hard could that be? I'm a police officer.

PAUL SIMON: Look, I had a severe loss of faith over the response to One-trick Pony. Also, I had switched labels, from Columbia to Warner Bros., with great trauma. When I left CBS, it became company policy there to make life as difficult as possible for me.

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: (*literally plays the world's smallest violin with two fingers*) Boo fucking hoo. What about how difficult you made life for music fans by flooding the radio with your easy listening schmaltz year after year? Maybe the reason One Trick Pony got a lackluster response is because the peppy salsa-pop opener ("Late In The Evening") is the only good song on the album!

PAUL SIMON: Listen, that psychiatrist was able to make me feel that I wasn't there to work just for the satisfaction of having a hit but that there was a contribution to be made. Of course, the reason I'd been blocked was that I felt what I did was of absolutely no importance.

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: So basically, he lied to you. What exactly do you think you've contributed to the world of music since Bridge Over Troubled Water? Simon & Garfunkel were a fantastic folk rock act. Why on Earth did you gravitate towards such miserable, ball-less musical styles after you broke up?

PAUL SIMON: Actually, I'm a rock-'n'-roll kid. I grew up with rock'n'roll. My main influences in early music were Fifties R&B, Fifties doo-wop groups, Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers. But Simon and Garfunkel was a folkie act. I liked the blend of our voices, but a significant part of me just wasn't a folkie. What we were doing was too sweet. I was too serious. When I began making my own albums, the songs became funkier. They were more about the streets.

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: But admit it, the brothers in the streets always suspected that you weren't as African-American as you looked. I read that somewhere, and remembered it because it was a brilliant piece of insight. Why don't you use that line in a song?

PAUL SIMON: No, that wouldn't be a Paul Simon song. I wouldn't say that. That's too on the money. I try to open up my heart as much as I can and keep a real keen eye out that I don't get sentimental.

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: Let's talk a bit more about the One Trick Pony album. Okay, after "Late In The Evening" - which I'll admit is a fantastic, energetic song that I like quite a bit - we get a couple of decent dark jazz-rock tunes that kinda sound like you'd been studying Steely Dan a bit. I initially took this as a positive sign that you'd moved beyond the satisfied laidback attitude you'd adopted on Still Lousy After All These Years. Plus, even though the Fender Rhodes is still in full force, One Trick Pony has much, much stronger production than its wishy-washy predecessor. Furthermore, your new lead guitarist sounds a lot like Steve Cropper, which is a wonderful thing. But then, starting with track four, it's all straight down the outhouse! First we get a really dull ballad, then a "Hit The Road Jack" ripoff, followed by a urinary tract infection of "Country-Funk," another boring ballad, a reprehensible smooth jazz pissoff, a Bruce Hornsby-style piano song (actually, that one's not terrible - it at least has a melody) and finally, surprise surprise - ANOTHER boring ballad! Look, the 'ballad' format is not intrinsically loathsome, but it's like you have absolutely no inkling of what constitutes a memorable, moving, sad, happy, emotional, effective or even noticable melody! Do you write these things with your ears glued shut or something? It's not often that I say something nice about Billy Joel, but let's face it - compared to you, the man is a Diamond Factory of Great Music. I mean, as repellent as it is, even "Just The Way You Are" has that catchy sax line every once in a while.

PAUL SIMON: I think "Just the Way You Are" contains a very true and kind of human statement. And it seems to be sincere. I don't want this to sound like a knock on him, because I usually like his records, but he's not my favorite songwriter. He's lyrically na´ve.

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: As opposed to "And I stepped outside to smoke myself a j." Yes, I see.

PAUL SIMON: Suck my ass it smells. Why are you picking on me so much? I'm a sensitive man and could begin crying at any moment.

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: What do you have to be sensitive about?

PAUL SIMON: Being short. You could say that's bad news. Not having a voice that you want. Not looking the way you want to look. Having a bad relationship.

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: Seriously? I'd always heard you had a Napoleon complex.

PAUL SIMON: I think being short had the most significant single effect on my existence, aside from my brain. In fact, it's part of an inferior-superior syndrome. I think I have a superior brain and an inferior stature, if you really want to get brutal about it.

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: Dude, your stature is fine. It's your taste in music that's inferior. Look, lots of women are short, so I'm sure they don't mind your height. So what's wrong with being short? Prindle was just kidding when he made all those 'short' jokes about you. Sure, they weren't funny. But he honestly didn't mean to upset you. He was just frustrated that your solo music was so bad.

PAUL SIMON: You're right. And interestingly, as I got older, I got better-looking. I lost weight. I began to run. Lost 15 pounds. And I did something about my hair. I worked on my hair so it would look better. It also helps to shave off your mustache, if you have one.

POLICEMAN LARRY A. YORBACICKLE, BRONX OFFICERS, YALE: Actually, by shaving off that horrible mustache, you've done the world such a tremendous favor that I'm going to set you free. Here, let me take off those handcuffs.

PAUL SIMON: Thank you!

P.L.A.Y.B.O.Y.: So the interview has a happy ending.

P.S.: I love you!

P.L.A.Y.B.O.Y.: (*fires gun six times at point-blank range into P.S.'s head; replaces him with midget*)

- The preceding interview originally appeared in the February 1984 issue of Policeman Larry A. Yorbacickle, Bronx Officers, Yale's Newsletter With Tits

Reader Comments
This is one of the funniest (and best) reviews I?ve ever read... "P.S.: I love you!"... together with the "reader comments" to Throbbing Gristle's new album. "Spirograph" will be the Internet Alter Ego of my next life.

Yesterday, I thought "hmm, maybe it?s time to really check out those Paul Simon albums between the first post-S&G one, and Graceland? I like both those albums, and I have a compilation with quite a few tracks from the albums inbetween, and they are pretty good." But these reviews give me second thoughs about that, it seems that most of the good ones are on that compilation. Thank you for saving me some time and money (I wouldn't have bought them at amazon. com anyway)...

Add your thoughts?

Hearts And Bones - Warner Bros. 1983
Rating = 5

Not awful but not great. Not scintillating but not stultifying. Not grindcore but not church music. These are just six of the many things that Hearts And Bones is not.

I decided to make a list of the Top 500,000 Things That Hearts And Bones is not. I can't read most of them because I wrote it on my gigantic fuckin boner and now it's soft and cuddly, but here are the highlights I can still make out:

5. A Volkswagen
17. An album with more than two good songs
44. A pogo stick -- with wheels, for the handicapped
106. A return to form
309. Man with large intestine dangling out of his body so little kids can play with it
546. (TIE) Free of Philip Glass's unwelcome influence
546. (TIE) An ass dildo
1000. Former member of Pink Floyd; famed opera composer
1204. Totem pole that gives BJs
4663. Chockful of songs with more than one decent part
7412. Liar whose pants have inexplicably burst into flame, driving him to drape his entire wardrobe over an overhanging telecommunications cable
7415. Responsible for nine Top 10 hits, including the summer smash "Allergies," which sold more than 1 trillion copies to every person on Earth.
24,056. Underrated
67,054. Not of any assistance in treating my gonorrhea
190,443. Larry Hagman's ballsac (Mark: fact-check before posting)
409,022. Any indication that an honestly good Paul Simon album was right around the corner
411,606. Black people calling each other 'dots'
422,009. An album with a single song anybody has ever heard of
436,047. Member of First Family; gay
430,000. Completely lacking such disappointing traits as repetitive uninvolving melodies, ugly jazz chords, and the Fender Rhodes
441,045. Undeserving of the hilarious nickname "Farts And Boners"
457,734. As bad as its three immediate predecessors
457,735. As good as its two immediate successors
500,000. A telephone that you can eat because it tastes like cheese

The music is indeed hit-or-miss, though not anywhere near as offensive as on his past few jazz-pop albums. Though jazz chords still abound, it's fair to call this album at least a semi-return to pop-rock. Of particular interest are "When Numbers Get Serious" and "Cars Are Cars," which respectively sound so much like early Talking Heads and They Might Be Giants that you'll swear "Weird Al" Yankovic slipped a couple of his 'stylistic parodies' onto the vinyl during the pressing process. Other outstanding tracks include the surprisingly dark, sick bass-driven "Allergies," poorly arranged but emotionally haunting "The Late Great Johnny Ace," and the insanely, excitingly overmixed McCartney-esque pop rocker "Think Too Much (a)," which augments an echoey Nile Rodgers guitar line with typewriter noise, fake handclaps, weird background birdy whistle noises, almost-subliminal counterpoint melodies, and lots of other little bits of strangeness.

Unfortunately, the other half of the album is pretty dull. Ballads, folksy wimpiness, reggae-pop, uncompelling Rhodes jazz chords, etc.

I'll give you one thing here, you being Paul Simon: Hearts and Bones features probably the best set of lyrics in your entire solo career, mostly focused on heartbreak and failing relationships. Here, let's look at some examples:

"Walk down the road/That leads me to the girl I love/The girl I'm always thinking of/But maybe I think too much/And I ought to just hold her/Stop trying to mold her"

"The smartest people in the world/Had gathered in Los Angeles/To analyze our love affair/And possibly unscramble us/And we sat among our photographs/Examined every one/And in the end we compromised/And met the morning sun"

"Now the man and the woman/Remain in contact/Let us say it's for the child/With disagreements about the meaning/Of a marriage contract/Conversations hard and wild/But from time to time/He makes her laugh/She cooks a meal or two"

"One and one-half wandering jews/Returned to their natural coasts/To resume old acquaintances/Step out occasionally/And speculate who had been damaged the most"

"I once had a car/That was more like a home/I lived in it, loved in it/Polished its chrome/If some of my homes/Had been more like my car/I probably wouldn't have/Travelled this far"

I decided not to come up with an ending.

Reader Comments

Dustin Lowman
What shocks me every time I read a review of this album is that nobody ever says anything about the title track, which is just plain one of the best songs Paul Simon ever wrote. I haven't listened to the full album all the way through in a while, so I can't make much comment other than that, but after seeing him live, I rediscovered the title track in all its splendour. Do you agree/disagree/feel completely apathetic towards the topic?

Add your thoughts?

Graceland - Warner Bros. 1986
Rating = 7


WAIT! My wife has something to say about Paul Simon, whom she loves.

OKAY! Soooooo, I really had fun having sex with my husband tonight. And you know why? Because he was wearing L'artisan Parfumer's "Timbuktu" fragrance! I mean, usually on Saturday (In German, Samstag, or Sonnabend [sp]) nights he's like, okkkaaaaaayyyy... but the Timbuktu made ALL the difference.


Honestly, you should be listening to Flipper instead, if you're reading this. If you've not been introduced to Flipper, listen to the Pixies, or the Dead Kennedys, depending on your advancement in Music.

BUT DON'T LISTEN TO THIS SHIT!!!! Even IF, as reported, "Call Me Al" is on this album, and even IF it is about alcoholism and the Betty Ford Clinic, it's not worth wasting and killing and sticking human cocks up your ears to surround yourself with Paul Simon's shitty wimpy wussy pussy voice and whatever the hell the two dollar backup band music is to hear it. So forget it!

Soooo... let me get the old man out of the bathroom, so HE can tell you about it.

WAIT, he said this was the only GOOD post-Garfunkel album????? Well then, let me get a dull bread knife and murder him for his bad taste.

BUT THE ALBUM STILL SUCKS. And did you hear the story about how the GBH singer mentioned me on Philadelphia radio? He was upset because I talked about Burt's Bees cuticle cream instead of his album. But in Paul Simon's case, I'd rather discuss the intricacies of the hepatic cytochrome P450 system, or the renal loop of Henle before--Oh, here he is.

Hey Jeeves. Park Mrindle here. Here's the deal: Paul Simon is a mediocre, arrogant songwriter and has been ever since he turned 30 years of age, the year when creativity diappears. But he had a great idea when he was about 45. "This is horrible! It's like Jamaica smoking pot!" my wife just said. But let me tell you MY point of view. Paul Simon got really into African pop music in the mid-80s, so he decided to do an album with a bunch of the African artists he liked -- Tao Ea Matsekha, Baghiti Khumalo, Ray Phiri, Demola Adepoju, General M.D. Shirinda and the Gaza Sisters, Ladyshit Black Man Bozos, Youssou N'dour, Morris Goldberg, Jospeh Shabalala, Stimela, and my favorite African aritsts Los Lobos. But that's not the point.

The point is that these instruments and ways of performing are NOT what you're used to hearing in American pop music! Accordion, fretless bass, pedal steel, sybnclavier, tambourines, saxophones, tenor sax, alto sax, trumpet, trombones, pennywhistle, baritone sax, bass sax, guitar synthesizer, washboard - HOLY SHIT, THAT DOESN'T SAY ANYTHING.

My point is that these songs are extremely positive, optimistic, filled with African singing voices, ways of playing guitar and such that you don't normally hear in America (very fast, strange, upbeat) - it's an ice cream treat to hear all thes wonderful African sounds (high-pitched), playing styles (fingery) and vocal styles (doo wop but tons of people in crazy languageage) and it's FUN! And CATCHY! Very joyous, celebratory, happy. The songwriting is pretty basic for the most part, because Paul Simon has no talent, but the way the instruments sound, the interplay, the non-Western approaches to the instruments are ALL worth hearing, loving, eating and smelling. Hits include the accordion-driven DARK MONSTER song "Boy In The Bubble" ("These are the days of miracle and wonder/This is the long distance call/The way the camera follows us in slo-mo/The way we look to us all, oh yeah/The way we look to a distant constellation that's dying in the corner of the sky/These are the days of miracle and wonder/Don't cry baby, don't cry, don't cry" That last bit's pretty lame, but other hits include "You Can Call Me 'Weird Al' Yankovic," "Graceland," "Homeless," and "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes.")

I prepeat: Paul Simon hasn't suddenly gotten good. But he has come up with a GREAT idea. "Hey, this music I love," he says to himself, he says, "Let's have me sing in my pussy voice over it and call it 'Paul Simon.'" It's true! A couple of these songs were already down on tape on African records as instrumental before Paul Simon came along, sang in his faggottyass shit voice on top of it, and called it a Paul Simon song. Wasn't that funny with Chevy Chase mouthing along with the "You Can Call Me Al" video? Ha ha! We all laugh at Chevy Chase! He's terrible! Remember the last time Chevy Chase was funny and not a complete asshole to everybody? It was the first Vacation movie! I'm sick of giving people credit just for being famous. Paul Simon was great in the 60s - really a fantastic, talented songwriter. But not since the 60s. And people keep giving him credit ANYWAY, even though he has lost all his talent and is just this short, miserable, talentless little prick going around writing godawful songs for old pricks. If you're a Paul Simon fan, good work. Way to support a talentless little piece of shit when folks like Armageddon and the Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 get no credit whatsover.

Havimg said that, this is a good album! Very catchy, uptempo, fun, and full of interesting African ways of playing music. Buy it!!!!! And then send a letter to Paul Simon telling him he's a useless piece of shit!

Reader Comments
Again, domo arigato (is that redundant?) on the Ladyshit Blackman Bozos... although I was half expecting the black mombaza to somehow be inserted into the ladysmith, I must say. I've actually seen "the 'bozos" in concert -- a friend of mine had free tickets (he works at the local university) -- and they were pretty darn cool! I hope I can pull my foot over the top of my head and run around all while singing on key when I am 70.
Nick Cave rules.

This album doesn't, at least not to high heaven, but I count the four hits among its good material, as well as the shoulda-beens "Crazy Love" and "Under African Skies." Those songs were just MADE for the Lion King soundtrack. And other, weirdass songs like "Gumboots" and "I Know What I Know" are filler, but catchy as a gluey baseball. Have you ever played gluey baseball? It's the sport where you hit the ball, then try to throw the bat over the fence! (Cause the ball's stuck to it, and you have to throw it, see

I'm sorry. I'm trying to do a Mark. And it's NOT WORKING. But this album would get higher than an 8 in my book, were it not for the fact that the zydeco song sucks Louisiana ding-a-ling, and the last song with the infinite title annoys me to death with its "Tha-WACK!!!" snare drum straight from Billy Squire on cocaine.

Say. Have you heard the song "Yo-Yo?" It's a good song. And it's by Mandy Moore. But it's a good song. You'd like it. Good song, that. You'll have to download it, though, because it wasn't a hit, needless to say. (Because it's good, see, and good songs aren't etc.)

I'm reaching, Prindle, I know. I apologize. No More Shall We Part. Buy that album.
OMG! Haters, all of you! Graceland is the sex! It's on my top mo-fockin' 10 and it should be on yours! I LIKE Paul's career! :( ur all mean.
This album is pretty good, although far from great. Side two has all the crappy songs on it. It's too bad that all the lyrics don't make a bit of sense, expecially the first song. I'd say about only two songs have any lyrics whatsoever that are not a lot of random nonsense. I mean, in some parts it almost seems like they were written by a ten year old. That's pretty bad in my opinion. But still , the music is pretty decent through out, and it's definately worth a listen even if you don't dig his music.It's definately unlike anything else he's ever done.

Jim Laakso
i can't say that i give a shit about either "graceland" or los lobos, but this interview with one of the los lobos guys about paul simon is actually pretty good and interesting reading.


Speaking of doing a lot of different records and working with a lot of amazing songwriters, I own a ton of the records that you've done over the years. One, in particular, I'd like to ask you about is Paul Simon's Graceland. I obsessed over that thing when I was young. Do you have any recollections of working on it?

Oh, I have plenty of recollections of working on that one. I don't know if you heard the stories, but it was not a pleasant deal for us. I mean he [Simon] quite literally - and in no way do I exaggerate when I say - he stole the songs from us.


Yeah. And you know, going into it, I had an enormous amount of respect for the guy. The early records were amazing, I loved his solo records, and I truly thought he was one of the greatest gifts to American music that there was. At the time, we were high on the musical food chain. Paul had just come off One Trick Pony and was kind of floundering. People forget, before Graceland, he was viewed as a colossal failure. He was low. So when we were approached to do it, I was a way bigger fan than anybody else in the band. We got approached by Lenny Waronker and Mo Ostin who ran our record company [Warner Bros.], and this is the way these guys would talk - "It would mean a lot to the family if you guys would do this for us." And we thought, "Ok well, it's for the family, so we'll do it." It sounds so unbelievably na´ve and ridiculous that that would be enough of a reason to go to the studio with him. We go into the studio, and he had quite literally nothing. I mean, he had no ideas, no concepts, and said, "Well, let's just jam." We said, "We don't really do that." When we jam, we'll switch instruments. Dave will play drums, I'll play something. We don't really jam. Especially in that era. Louie will be the first to tell you this - he was made to play drums. They forced him to play drums. He's not really a drummer by trade. He's never practiced a moment in his life. Not once in his life did he sit down at the drums because of his love for drumming. The other three guys made him play drums in the early days, so he sort of became drummer by default. He hates playing the instrument, I think. Again, you should ask him, but I don't ever ever, ever get the sense that he was one of those dyed-in-the-wool, John Bonham, let's-play-drums-for-three-days-straight kind of guys. So consequently, as the core band was comprised then, we never jammed - never ever. Not by accident, not even at soundcheck. We would always just play a song. So Paul was like, "Let's just jam," and we're like, "Oh jeez. Well alright, let's see what we can do." And it was not good because Louie wasn't comfortable. None of us were comfortable, it wasn't just Louie. It was like this very alien environment to us. Paul was a very strange guy. Paul's engineer was even stranger than Paul, and he just seemed to have no clue - no focus, no design, no real nothing. He had just done a few of the African songs that hadn't become songs yet. Those were literally jams. Or what the world came to know and I don't think really got exposed enough, is that those are actually songs by a lot of those artists that he just approved of. So that's kind of what he was doing. It was very patrician, material sort of viewpoint. Like, because I'm gonna put my stamp on it, they're now my songs. But that's literally how he approached this stuff. I remember he played me the one he did by John Hart, and I know John Hart, the last song on the record. He goes, "Yeah, I did this in Louisiana with this zy decko guy." And he kept saying it over and over. And I remember having to tell him, "Paul, it's pronounced zydeco. It's not zy decko, it's zydeco." I mean that's how incredibly dilettante he was about this stuff. The guy was clueless.

Wow. You're kidding me?

Clue... less about what he was doing. He knew what he wanted to do, but it was not in any way like, "Here's my idea. Here's this great vision I have for this record, come with me." About two hours into it, the guys are like, "You gotta call Lenny right now. You gotta get us out of this. We can't do this. This is a joke. This is a waste of time." And this was like two hours into the session that they wanted me to call Lenny. What am I going to tell Lenny? It was a favor to him. What am I going to say, "Paul's a fucking idiot?" Somehow or other, we got through the day with nothing. I mean, literally, nothing. We would do stuff like try an idea out and run it around for 45 minutes, and Paul would go "Eh... I don't like it. Let's do something else." And it was so frustrating. Even when we'd catch a glimpse of something that might turn into something, he would just lose interest. A kitten-and-the-string kinda thing. So that's day one. We leave there and it's like, "Ok, we're done. We're never coming back." I called Lenny and said it really wasn't very good. We really didn't get anything you could call a song or even close to a song. I don't think Paul likes us very much. And frankly, I don't think we like him very much. Can we just say, 'Thanks for the memories' and split?" And he was like, "Man, you gotta hang in there. Paul really does respect you. It's just the way he is. I'll talk to him." And we were like, "Oh man, please Lenny. It's not working." Meanwhile, we're not getting paid for this. There was no discussion like we're gonna cash in or anything like that. It was very labor-of-love.


Yeah. Don't ask me why. God knows it would have made it a lot easier to be there.

And Lenny put you guys together thinking it would be a good match?

Well, "It would be good for the family." That was it. So we go back in the second day wondering why we're there. It was ridiculous. I think David starts playing "The Myth of the Fingerprints," or whatever he ended up calling it. That was one of our songs. That year, that was a song we started working on By Light of the Moon. So that was like an existing Lobos sketch of an idea that we had already started doing. I don't think there were any recordings of it, but we had messed around with it. We knew we were gonna do it. It was gonna turn into a song. Paul goes, "Hey, what's that?" We start playing what we have of it, and it is exactly what you hear on the record. So we're like, "Oh, ok. We'll share this song."

Good way to get out of the studio, though...

Yeah. But it was very clear to us, at the moment, we're thinking he's doing one of our songs. It would be like if he did "Will the Wolf Survive?" Literally. A few months later, the record comes out and says "Words and Music by Paul Simon." We were like, "What the fuck is this?" We tried calling him, and we can't find him. Weeks go by and our managers can't find him. We finally track him down and ask him about our song, and he goes, "Sue me. See what happens."

What?! Come on...

That's what he said. He said, "You don't like it? Sue me. You'll see what happens." We were floored. We had no idea. The record comes out, and he's a big hit. Retroactively, he had to give songwriting credit to all the African guys he stole from that were working on it and everyone seemed to forget. But that's the kind of person he is. He's the world's biggest prick, basically. So we go back to Lenny and say, "Hey listen, you stuck us in the studio with this fucking idiot for two days. We tried to get out of it, you made us stay in there, and then he steals our song?! What the hell?!" And Lenny's always a politician. He made us forget about it long enough that it went away. But to this day, I do not believe we have gotten paid for it. We certainly didn't get songwriting credit for it. And it remains an enormous bone that sticks in our craw. Had he even given us a millionth of what the song and the record became, I think we would have been - if nothing else - much richer, but much happier about the whole thing.

Have you guys seen him since then?

No. Never run into him. I'll tell you, if the guys ever did run into him, I wouldn't want to be him, that's for sure.

That's an amazing story. I can't believe I never heard it before.

We had every right and reason to sue him, and Lenny goes, "It's bad for the family." When we told the story in that era, when this was going down, we were doing interviews and telling the truth. And Lenny goes, "Hey guys, I really need you to stop talking about it. It's bad for the family."

Amazing. Talk about bad for the family.

I know. Again, it's just so incredible how na´ve we were back then. You can't even imagine that era of music when you'd actually listen to your record company president who told you to shut up because "it's bad for the family." Now, I'd tell him to go fuck himself. That's our version of it. I'd love to hear Paul's version of it. But he's much richer now and could probably give a shit about it. It's still one of those things where I've not forgiven anyone involved in it. It still remains. I haven't let it go, as you can tell. It was just so wrong and so rude, and so unnecessary. It is an amazing moment in our history.

Add your thoughts?

The Rhythm Of The Saints - Warner Bros. 1990
Rating = 6

Jesus Christ. I'd intended to give Graceland a positive review. Guess it just goes to show yer: don't let your wife rave about how much she hates Paul Simon and then try to write a positive Paul Simon review. It's just like Mick Jagger's response when he was asked why The Rutles broke up: "Women."

For you see, regardless of whether Paul was just riding on African peoples' coattails or not, the fact is that Graceland, with its catchy little "I Know What I Know" songs and Africantastic vibes, would not exist had Paul Simon not taken the initiative to hunt down all these musicians and pull the project together. So for that, I propose that we all just forgive him his lesser records and say, "Dude, Paul! Thanks for Graceland!" Because it's an honestly GOOD, uptempo, easy-to-enjoy record. Gets weaker towards the end (hence the high 7 instead of low 8), but for the first little while, we're talkin' fun as shit speedy pop goodtime music with African know-how. No wonder it was such an enormous hit in the marketplace - it deserved to be!

But that's Graceland; we've moved onto The Rhythm Of The Saints now. Keen to follow up on his World Music Pop success, he opted this time to have a bunch of Brazilians lay down gigantic tromply-stomply rhythms atop which he and various musicians performed sort of Latin Americansy musics. Or something. Man, I don't know! I don't know nothin' bout no fuckin' World Music! Go ask an ethnomusicologist or anthromusicpologist or some shit! But I'm talkin' jive-ass percussive instrufuckinments like the chakiere, bottles, congas, go go bells, triangle, berimbau, gourd, box drum, clave, bongo, talking drum, casinet, chicote, african bells, shaker, water bowl, sordu and scraper. Then he's got jerks like Michael Brecker in there on his Akai Ewi synthesizer and people playing horns and cowbells and accordions and guitars and whatnot. And it's pretty good! Not that good though. But PRETTY good! Not that good though. But PRETTY good!

Unlike the 'so bubbly we're happy' mood of Grackland, The Rhythm Of The Taints' songs are much calmer - at times even tedious. Very staid-sounding, with most of the songs fitting the same lengthy, percussion-heavy and midtempo template, the album can indeed feel a bit wearisome at times -- particularly since the most intriguing songs are at the very beginning and very end (in fact, you may just want to skip tracks 4-7 altogether). The drums, as the stated focus of the record, are REALLY FUCKING LOUD, rendering it difficult to make out exactly what else is going on in the song if you're not sitting directly in front of the speakers. Plus, the lesser tracks are just South American-mooded buppity-juppity things with a couple basic guitar chords you can barely hear and Paul singing the least concrete set of lyrics he's ever written (ex. "And in remembering a road sign/I am remembering a girl when I was young/And we said These songs are true/These days are ours/These tears are free/And hey/The cross is in the ballpark").

On the plus side, it's all played very tightly and expertly, once again on a variety of fascinatingly-toned instruments that one normally doesn't hear on an American pop album; "Can't Run But" is a personal favorite of mine, built upon a creepy gamelanny bunch of chimy tones from... a talking drum maybe? In addition, Paul has come up with a few surprisingly unorthodox and intellectual riffs to sink your ear into -- "Further To Fly," though ugly as sin, is nevertheless built upon a creative, bizarre series of notes; "The Cool, Cool River" features some of the richest and most intricate instrumental interplay of his career; and the title track's chord sequence is so fucking underground it makes me feel ashamed for having ever accused him of being a lackluster songwriter.

If the only Saul Pimon you've heard is Graceland, this should definitely be your third purchase. It's easily a high 6, and possibly even a 7 if you catch me on a slow day. It's not quite as whimsical, cheery or consistent as its predecessor, but is indeed another praise-worthy geographical survey by radio's Paul Simon!

Actually, I don't think the single "The Obvious Child" got any airplay at all, so maybe he no longer belongs to radio. Yes, perhaps he's finally broken free of its grip to become his own man -- obscurity's Paul Simon!

As these two World Travellin' Man albums represent the unequivocal peak of Paul's post-Simon & Garfunkel career (he actually jumped back over the Shark for a few years!), it's a shame he didn't continue in this line of work and give us an album full of original Chinese Rock. Or at least a suitcase of Chinese Rock. No listen, listen! I really really NEED some CHINESE ROCK!!!! RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!

Yes, heroin is a laughing matter and we should all make fun of people who use it and pee on them, but my point stands -- it's tragic that Paul didn't continue exploring other world musics because he really had something going there. This is especially unfortunate in light of the direction he chose for his next project.


Show tunes.

Reader Comments
I like - at most - about 10 songs Paul Simon ever wrote, but "She Moves On" on this album is at the top. Good music, great lyrics. He's whiny and self-indulgent beyond tolerance but he can sure write a break-up song.

Add your thoughts?

Songs From The Capeman - Warner Bros. 1997
Rating = 2

If I were a rich man,
Daidle deedle daidle
Daidle daidle deedle daidle dum
All day long I'd ram show tunes up your bum
If I were a wealthy man.
I'd jam needles in the eyes of Andrewl Lloydel Webbel
Daidle daidle deedle daidle dum
If I were a biddy-biddy rich,
Daidle deedle daidle daidle fuck you

When I first heard that Paul Simon was planning a CD called Songs From The Rapeman, I was totally all excited to hear his authentic African/Latin take on "Kim Gordon's Panties," but the next thing you know the copy editor's making his changes and everything's shot to Hell in a Heartbucket. By the time the smoke cleared, all we had was some dumbassed musical about a Latino kid who fell in with a gang and murdered a couple of innocent youngsters in the late '50s. True story, but not a very compelling one. Come on, Paul - at least give us Songs From Jeffrey Dahmer's Fridge or something.

The musical actually opened in NYC, but quickly failed -- in part due to angry people who felt it was inappropriate to perform a musical eulogizing a murderer, and in part because it wasn't any good. However, it DOES contain some of the most awkward lyrics to ever emerge from Paul Simon's boyish voicebox! Here, let's enjoy some for you (and please, for maximum humor value, ear-picture these lyrics being sung/spoken in Paul's voice):

-- "The blancos and the nigger gangs/Well, they'd kill you if they could."
-- "Well the 'Spanish boys' had their day in court/And now it was time for some fuckin' law and order"
-- "Banana-colored light-skinned spics/You feel your peel so fine?"
-- "The Savage Skulls, The Fordham Baldies/They'll treat you like you're piss/From the heart of the barrio, now my brother/We tell them mother fuckers suck on this"
-- "'Cause if someone's got to die/To pay for the shit they done/I believe in an eye for an eye"
-- "SAL: I ain't giving you my fucking money./HERNANDEZ: Oye, mother fucker, where's this jibaro from?"
-- "If you got the balls, then come on, mette mano/If you got the cojones, then come on, mette mano"
-- "Frenchy Cordero goes down to Hell's Kitchen/To sell the Irish some weed/So this Paddy boy's mother on the stoop starts bitchin'/'Bout spics is a mongrel breed."
-- "Fucking Puerto Rican dope-dealing punk/Get your shit-brown ass out of here"
-- "So the shanty-town Irish they kicked his ass good/Fractured his collar bone/Cono, all I was thinking is 'What home of the Brave?/This is a fucking war zone!'"
-- "Killer wants to go to college/Another bullshit degree"
-- "No way in hell that smart ass spic goes free"

So you see, Paul Simon feels that in order to be sufficiently realistic about "life in the 'hood," it's necessary to use the "language of the streets," even if he's still asking his listeners to suspend their disbelief about "tough urban kids going around singing all the time" and "about eight different characters all sharing the voice of Paul Simon."

But it's not just the cussing; it's also his hamfist-brained attempts to relate the history of the case through sung dialogue that nobody in the world would ever actually sing or even speak. Here, examples await:

-- "Some even said that my judge - Judge Gerald Culkin - wouldn't play it by the book."
-- "Hernandez, 'The Umbrella Man,' chained beside me..."
-- "In my life I've been unlucky with two husbands/Gumersindo liked his rum and women friends/Then that hypocrite who beat you and preached about repentance/Has gone, and so another Sunday ends!"
-- "I know how hard it's been for you these many years/You say the Aguinaldo makes you dream of home/Where once we strolled the beach at El Malecon/Go back don't you worry, I am your grown-up son!"
-- "Papi, this ain't Mayaguez/This is the island of Nueva York!"

To be fair, Paul was assisted in his lyrical buffoonery by Derek Walcott, Winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. So maybe the shitty writing is his, I don't know. Either way, it's a boring story for drab people of bland interests. He gets arrested as a kid, educates himself, gets out 20 years later and blah blah blah something or other (*makes fart noise by applying lips to a horse's anus and sucking*)

Hey, I just kissed Paul Simon! (*audience goes wild with laughter*)

Musically, Paul is ostensibly trying to play Latin music and '50s doo-wop rock'n'roll; however, as you well know, the very format of 'Broadway Musical' demands that all musical gestures and emotions be made 5000% more obvious and cloying so even the old fogerties in the back seat will understand it. Thus, we get a 55-minute disc of Show Tune-ized Latin music and '50s doo-wop rock'n'roll -- along with a few unexpected forays elsewhere and nigh, such as the quite sorrowful acoustic ballad "Can I Forgive Him" and the usual Paul Simon crapola "Trailways Bus."

I'll give you two solid numbers and that's it -- "Can I Forgive Him" is as emotionally wrenching and un-Broadwayish as it could possibly be, and "Killer Wants To Go To College" is a really clever darkened twist on the traditional "Honky Tonk" guitar riff. The rest of the album can take its five million background singers, timbales, congas, bongos, cymbal, drums, bass, guitar, plenaro, piano, synthesizer, oboe, french horn, orchestration, viola, flute, trumpets, tenor and baritone saxophones, celeste, vibes, glockenspiel, bell tree, guitar case kick drum, cowbell, trombone, clave, maracas, harmonica, acoustic guitar, guira, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, flugel, violins, viola, cello, horn arrangement, interview samples, pedal steel, accordion, shaker and Fender Rhodes to the amusement park for a nice day out. The horn arrangement in particular LOVES the swingy pirate ship!!!

On the other hand, if you like show tunes, Songs From The Capeman might be right up your alley!

(if there's any room in there between all the penises)

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You're The One - Warner Bros. 2000
Rating = 4

Simple Simon (zing!) is back in the ring to take another swing. God, the walls were shakin', the Earth was quakin', his mind was achin', and they were makin' another kid - Edie shook Paul Simon! Yeah, E - Edie shook Paul Simon! She really took him in, E - Edie shook Paul Simon! She had him goin' and E! - Edie shook Paul Simon! Yeah, she shook him! And she took him! PAAAAAUL SIIIII-MOOOOOON!

As you can see, my allergy to Paul Simon has grown so debilitating that I am no longer able to discuss him without formatting my words into a "Weird Al" Yankovic-like parody of a song I actually like. Luckily, the Ramones have a song called "She's The One."

Yeah yeah, You're The One
Yeah yeah, You're The One
When I see it on the street
I stomp it under my golfy cleat
Yeah ya know, it sucks the pole
You're The One, You're The One

Yeah yeah, no more Capeman cussin'
Just clean guitar and lots of percussion
Hokey parts kill emotional songs
Dull melodies, Paul licks dongs
And ya know, most the songs are slow
You're The One, You're The One
You're The One

I admit that some of the lyrics are smart
Like "You're The One..... who broke my heart!"

Yeah yeah, it makes me hurl
The worst album in the whole wide world
I love "The Teacher" and "Look At That"
But the single makes me shit my hat
Yeah ya know, "Quiet" sounds like Eno
You're The One, You're The One, You're The One,
You're The One, You're The One, You're The One,
You're The One, You're The One, You're The One,
You're The One, You're The One, You're The One

Dammit. I had more that I wanted to say.

Luckily, Bruce Springsteen has a song called "She's The One."

With his mellow paces and his effete phrases
That no man can stand to hear from his lips
Oh and that Garfunkel sperm on his hips
Because he knows that it kills me
To her his soft impotent pud I DON'T REMEMBER WHAT THIS SONG SOUNDS LIKE.

You're The One is one of the most understated and minimalist releases in the entire Paul Simon catalog, but that didn't stop him from singing "Pigs, Sheep and Wolves" in the fucking stupidestass vocal delivery in the history of music. Was he DRUNK!? Please download this song if you haven't heard it. Paul starts it off pretty normal but then before you can even adjust your pants, he starts speak-singing everything in this bizarre 'hip, street, funky' voice that's so incompetent and embarrassing, you have to wonder what kind of mind could have thought it sounded good enough to release.

Okay, never mind. I just read on the Internet that he was using a voice that he used when playing with his young children around that time. So that's pretty cute. Ignore the hateful bile wrath I just spewed all over the voice he uses when playing with his young children. More generally speaking, You're The One is a series of songs about love, loss, philosophy, corruption, heartache and aging. Some of the lyrical ideas border on brilliance ("You're The One," "Darling Lorraine," "Quiet"), others not so much ("Old," "Pigs, Sheep And Wolves"). The music nearly all revolves around Paul's clean, prettily-toned electric guitar and the percussionwork of multiple percussionists. Apparently there are also additional guitarists, celestes, organists, glockenspielists, harpies, saxophonists, fluters, harmonicers, clarinetists and such spread out among the tracks, but they all play fourth banana to (a) Paul singing, (b) one clean guitar, doing whatever, and (c) Africany, non-Eastern percussion.

Here's an interesting quote I just found from Paul Simon, discussing the critical failures of Songs From The Capeman and Hearts And Bones: "Sometimes you get so involved in the minutiae of the work, you don't notice it's not interesting. A certain denial takes over. When I made Hearts and Bones, I allowed myself to be convinced that songs I didn't like very much were good because people around me liked them. That's a mistake."

I want to stress something here: The reason I go so overboard when insulting artists whose music I don't care for is because it makes for more entertaining reading than "I don't like it, but it's not really my kind of music." Obviously that would be a more accurate way to put it -- I mean, I'm not out here in Internetland seriously believing that everybody who likes Paul Simon is fuckin retarded. I'm just describing my own personal response to the music, and perhaps amplifying it 400 or 500 degrees so it's a bit more fun to read (unless you're a Paul Simon fan, of course). Sure, I hate smooth jazz and show tunes, but it's not like I actually loathe Paul Simon The Human Being because I don't care for his music (not that he would care what I think about him either way, but I'm just saying so you'll know).

Is Paul Simon a good person? Probably so, sure! He's always come across as intelligent, friendly and honest in interviews, and he has a good enough sense of humor to appear in The Rutles' movie, allow Chevy Chase to 'eat up the scenery' in his video, and dress up like a turkey for Saturday Night Live. I think, more than anything else, I'm just trying to provide a voice of dissent (however teeny and ineffectual) against the prevailing critical opinion that everything the man does (aside from Capeman) is teeming with literary and musical genius. To my ears, it's not. It's not even close. His melodies mostly range from standard to substandard, and half of his lyrics are so lazy and uninteresting that it's a shock to realize how smart the other half are.

As for this album in particular, a friend of mine (and Paul Simon fan) recently remarked that it seems to be more about ideas than actual songs. All-Music Guide concludes that it's more a series of 'tone poems' than melodies. Me, I hear a bunch of predictable, relaxed, guitar-based folk/rock/pop songs with Africany rhythms. A few hooks stand out from the crowd, but only a few. Still, unlike Capeman, Rhymin', Crazy and Pony, this music isn't unlistenable tick-infested dog shit; it's just sorta boring.

And really, isn't that what it's all about?













Okay I suppose that's not really what it's all about. Jesus, can't a man use a critic's cliche' every once in a while without you assholes calling attention to it!??













I feel it's in my best interest to refer to my tiny, hanging-on-by-a-thread readership as 'you assholes.'

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Surprise - Warner Bros. 2006
Rating = 6

Surprise! It doesn't suck!

But first, I have to tell you about the cutest thing in the world, which I was lucky enough to happen upon at the local PetCo about an hour ago. It was an adorable little tiny winter coat for a small dog - but wait there's more! It was black, on the back was the AC/DC logo, a cannon, and the text, "For Those About To Bark -- WE SALUTE YOU"! I wanted to buy it but Henry The Dog is an 80-pounder with no use for a tail jacket. There was also a hamster nursing three wittle itty bitty baby hamsters! Have you ever seen a baby hamster? I'm not exactly 'Bob Hamster,' but their babies are adorable!

Speaking of babies, there's a baby on the cover of Surprise, probably one of the five billion that Paul and his wife of "What I Am Is What I Am You What You Are Or What" fame keep pumpin' out. AND I DO MEAN PUMPIN'!!!!!! (boner) Paul's good idea this time 'round was to collaborate with famed 'sonic landscapist' Brian Eno, who knows a thing or two about filling in empty space with echoey tones, heavenly drones and Top Hat Bones, a hilarious rapping skeleton puppet that you may have had the opportunity to enjoy at Atlanta's famed 'Underground' shopping complex (full lyrics available at Unfortunately, Top Hat Bones doesn't appear on the CD, so Eno really blew it on that one.

Otherwise Eno did a tremendous, wonderful job, so thumbs up Eno. His strong, sparkling production brings Paul Simon into today's modern age, and helps each song to build gradually from one or two elements into a multi-dimensional layer cake of guitar tracks and electronic pulses, fuzzies and washes. Paul has never sounded so up-to-date, with great guitar tones (both distorted and clean), electronic beats and high-pitched peep-peep noises you'd expect to hear on a Radiohead album, not on one by a 65-year-old man. He's 65 years old, for Christ's sake! A rickety old retired man! Older than Paul McCartney of The Beatles! And here he is, sounding all hip like David Bow -- oop, never mind.

This is absolutely, definitely one of the most likable and melodic solo CDs Paul Simon has ever recorded, and if you're a bigger fan than me and on the fence about buying it, jump the fence and buy it today. "How Can You Live In The Northeast?" has one of the least Paul Simon-like (and thus, best) melodies of his career, "Father And Daughter" one of the bounciest and most heartwarming, "That's Me" one of the most fractured and intriguing, and "Everything About It Is A Love Song" one of the most gorgeous and relaxing. Plus "Another Galaxy" is a terrific sad-but-hopeful update of "She's Leaving Home," and "Beautiful" has some lovely passages too.

The rest of the disc is unfortunately a bit weaker, particularly a few awkward attempts to sound hip and of-the-time (the 'funky' Lenny-Kravitz-taking-a-dump "Outrageous," miserably-arranged protest song "Wartime Prayers" and one-chord falsetto U2 nightmare "Sure Don't Feel Like Love" must be heard to be believed)(and then they must never be played again). But even the songs that don't have much to offer are boosted immeasurably by Eno's striking, intelligent production choices -- you never know what is going to pop into the mix next (a piano line? sci-fi noises? a scraggly distorted guitar?), and it usually sounds mighty good! Or, you know, as good as something can sound when it's part of a lousy song.

A must-own for Paul Simon fans, and even a not-necessarily-not-own for the rest of us!

Now let's end the page with a light joke, to clear away all that venom and pain:

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Paul Simon!
Paul Simon who?
Paul Simon (Paul's hymen) is torn! Goddamn that Art Buttfuckle!!!

Reader Comments (Mike Harras)
Thank you for your Paul Simon reviews! His fans have always annoyed me, holding his boring ass up as some sort of genius.....the same way Tool fans do! Arrggh.

AAArrrrrgggghhhh at war with simon (Adam Hammack)
I really do think Mark and I are in some way mentally linked. Also, mentally challenged.

Challenges aside, (and back to the crazy mind-link thing), he always manages to review artists just after I've bought up all of their albums, and in many cases he could've saved me the trouble of buying them if he'd just written his reviews a week earlier.

To tell you the truth though, our tastes don't tend to match all that often, and some albums that I've bought on his recommendation have sucked, while others that he has trashed and I've bought anyway have turned out to be treasures. So I guess there's really know way to accurately know whether Prindle's full of shit or not.

(Or at least to accurately know /how much/ shit he's full of...)

Whether he agrees with my assessment or not, though, he always seems to review artists right after I've bought up their catalogs, and I wanna go on record as saying that this pisses me off.

And also, that I'm drunk on Vodka this evening.

First, I'll confess I have been around my Dad a lot working on his house (Katrina rebuilding) and, thus listening to a lot of his favorite group, Simon & Garfunkel.

(My dad's not gay, but it'd be hard to prove it. He's just really smart and sensitive and listens to folk-music all the time, and people like that who're sensitive and listen to folk-music all the time often tend to be gay. [IT'S NOT MY STATISTIC! I READ IT IN CHRISTIAN FAMILY WEEKLY!!!] He's been married 40 years and knows lots about cars though, if that counts for anything.)

Anyway, since I'd been listening to so much S&G, I decided to download Paul's solo shit from iTesticles and take it on a trip to Florida with me. (Turns out I could've downloaded far better music to listen to on a 16 hour car trip.)

I have to agree with your assessment for the most part: although I wouldn't really say the S&G stuff is less pretentious, this stuff is pretty damned smug, (especially Still Crazy...). I haven't heard One Trick Jack-Ass yet, but the rest of it's been a real random grab-bag for me. I think I'd like to make a mix-disc of the "good" songs on these albums, but the later stuff would stick out like a sore thumb compared to the earlier. For one thing, the Eno stuff is way more modern than anything else. Secondly, the prevalence of smooth-jazz and "world-beat" styles in the middle period is really a turn-off for me, and the horribly dated 80's production of Graceland makes it's cuts impossible to blend with any other Simon tracks.

Paul writes good songs, sometimes great ones. This stuff is really (REALLY) not Prindle's bag, but it's not quite as universally horrible as it might be made out to be. I, for one, actually find 70's AM radio era production comforting, if the song is worth two shits. Some of these songs are worth three or four shits. Five, even.

The only song ever to score six shits: "One of Us" by Joan Osborne

I just thought it was really odd you decided to review Paul Simon's solo stuff right after I downloaded his entire 70's solo output, that's all.


(Nope. Just Art Garfunkel begging for food.)

Fuck off you Nazi Psycho Fuck-Head Bastard (and stop reading my goddamned mind!!!)
Please, people, let's be civil here and avoid mentioning Paul Simon and Tool in the same paragraph. At least Tool are competent musicians... (Susan Ellis)
i wish that albums and cds had two sides, the crappy side and the good side.

the most annoying thing about surprise is that for every one good song there are two very annoying ones and i have to skip over them.

at least on this album paul has finally stopped using those unusually happy tribal guys who also appear on sesame street counting numbers. i really hate the one guy who makes a bird call sound every ten seconds. everytime the exceedingly happy bird caller does his thing, paul gets his ever so slight smarmy smile that we all seem to be familiar with. he is nasty!

haven't you ever heard carrie fisher talk about their marriage? both of them manic depressive drug addicts. what fun! i guess edie brickell was not born when those vows were exchanged, so in her case ignorance was bliss. how else can one explain her repetitive willingness to procreate with that whimpy shrimpy?

surprise is a pretty good album though, for paul simon.

thanks for the memories, i love cracking myself up rereading the comments i sent to you years ago. i must be getting old though because now i just sound sour, whereas i used to be TRULY funny.
In my early rebellious teenage years, I used to listen to Paul Simon quite a bit (I am an incredibly wussy kid). At first when I saw your Paul Simon reviews, I thought "blasphemy! snotty jerk doesn't like my favorite guy." Then, I remembered that I mostly used to listen to Simon and Garfunkel albums. I also liked a couple of the Greatest Hits solo Paul Simon CDs my parents had. Here were some really interesting songs from an astoundingly prolific writer. So, I dug out a couple of my dad's old Paul Simon vinyls, so I could hear what they were like in context.

I was bored shitless. To like Paul Simon: listen to Negotiations and Love Songs or The Paul Simon Anthology or whatever and just pretend he has a lot of other great songs you haven't heard yet. It really makes him seem a whole lot better. Thank goodness I listened to my parents' vinyls. I nearly dropped a hundred dollars on box set of remastered CDs.

P.S. Still, Graceland is a pretty good album. It's an eight out of ten at least.
This page has some of your best reviews ever on it. "There Goes Rhymin' Simon" and "Songs from the Capeman" are two of my three favorite reviews (the other is Chinese Democracy).

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So Beautiful Or So What - Hear Music 2011
Rating = 7

As much as I hate this arrogant thieving little prick, I must admit he really came through on this one. This does NOT sound like the work of a 70-year-old man, let alone a 70-year-old responsible for as much mawkish and repulsive music as Paul Simon. Instead, this is a warm and tuneful collection of interestingly performed guitar-oriented songs that combine Western hooks with the world music styles that Simon so loves to cannibalize. The melodies and instrumental tones are fascinating and beautiful -- full of speedy non-Western acoustic plucking, gorgeous '50s-toned electric guitar, and rhythmic textures from all over the world. Best of all, it sounds like neither a nostalgic throwback nor a forced attempt to stay current: the production and songwriting simply sound timeless.

Plus, he's not afraid to experiment with weird new sounds and approaches! In the first track alone, he (a) runs an acoustic guitar through a Leslie Speaker (I guess!?) so the strumming fades crazily in and out, (b) builds the entire song around rhythmic samples of a 1941 church sermon and the congregation's responses, and (c) includes a disorienting "SQUEEEAAWW" slide guitar noise as punctuation after each line. You don't see most elderly senior oldsters fooling around with such new approaches, do you? Besides Neil Young, no you don't. And he's suffered from dementia for a decade, so that doesn't count.

A lot of the lyrics are about God and mortality, but give him a break: he now actually *is* as old as he pretended to be on Bookends. Mortality is scary. I'll probably start praying too when I'm fifty billion years old like Paul "It's Not Stealing If You Copyright It Under Your Own Name" Simon.

There are a few lesser tracks, of course: jazzy ballad "Love & Hard Times" would've been more appropriate for one of his awful '70s albums, driving western choogler "Love Is Eternal Sacred Light" collapses into confusing samples and stylistic shifts halfway through, and "Amulet" is a guitar solo by Paul Simon (!?). But I went into this record expecting -- heck, wanting -- to despise it, and I simply can't. It sounds too goddamned good. Oh! Those guitars! That's what he should've called the album: So Beautiful Guitars Or Up Your Ass! I'll call Starbucks and see if it's too late to change it. One sec.

Okay, they changed the name to So Beautiful Guitars Or So Grande Skim Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha.

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I know I said he was terrible, but Buy some Paul Simon CDs!

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