Paul Simon has been on my mind this holiday season.
Part of it has to do with his “Getting Ready For Christmas Day,” an infectious tune he released in the spring of 2011.
The other part of it is because my son Riley gave me a CD copy of Graceland for Christmas. Graceland won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1986, and, of course, I only owned the cassette tape before now.
From 1986 to 2011 is no small span of time in the career of a recording artist. Yet Simon’s career is that much more remarkable when you realize that by 1986 he was already considered … mature. Experienced. Over the hill.
While I like Simon and Garfunkel, I appreciate Simon’s solo work even more (and I believe he might want you to think some of the S&G catalog was actually his solo material!).
So I welcome 2012 with five favorite Paul Simon songs:
5. Under African Skies. A beautiful if under-appreciated tune from Graceland. Love the line, “this is the story of when we began to remember . . .”
4. Graceland. The song and the album from which it comes brought Simon’s interest in African & South American sounds into the public’s mind. Isn’t it interesting — musically, it’s all about the world. Lyrically, it’s about Elvis Presley and the unique Americana at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.
3. Getting Ready For Christmas Day. Terrific song, even better video.
2. The Obvious Child. The opening percussion sets the stage for the overall genius of the 1990 album, The Rhythm Of The Saints. I’d love to know what he means with the line, “the cross is in the ballpark.”
1. Kodachrome. When I was 11, this was my favorite song of all time. I remember driving with my dad from Dallas, TX to Knoxville, TN for a tennis tournament, and hoping all the while that this song would come on the radio in our little Mazda. On occasion, it did. A few months later, my dad suprised me by getting me the record album (called “There Goes Rhymin Simon”) with this song on it. I didn’t even know he was paying attention … but sure am glad he was. I still have the LP at home.
Honorable Mention — “You Can Call Me Al” Two reasons for the honorable mention: 1) On his 1990 tour, he’d finish the song and then say, “let’s do that one again.” And then he did. 2) The video with Chevy Chase might be the Best. Video. Ever. Enjoy: