Tuesday, December 6, 2011

“In the clearing stands a Boxer…” (Paul Simon, Simon & Garfunkel)

In my league of extraordinary heroes, Paul Simon stands tall among them. He inspires me to write beautiful thigns. Yes, he’s a fine musician with one of the most emotionally sweet voices that I’ve ever heard, but what always gets me about him is the way that he pieces together words into heartbreaking, truthful, and beautiful stories. He captures a moment, a feeling better than anyone else that I can think of and for that I am forever smitten.

I was lucky enough to snag some tickets (although row DD wasn’t perfect, I was still in the hall) to see him at his performance at Ruth Eckerd Hall last night. It’s sort of terrifying to see someone that you’ve admired for most of your life because people are fallible and real. I’ve seen a lot of people who completely won me with their live sets (Bob Dylan – how is it that Dylan stays so humble?) and then others that have made me never want to listen to their music again (*coughJohnMellencampcough*). I am happy to say that Simon was genuine, funny, and gracious. He seems to still love performing his music, and that has become a rarity. His voice still sounds incredible. It was just a fun night with great music. His music spans decades and it hasn’t lost any of its relevance or impact (some of my favorites of the night were from his newest CD So Beautiful or So What... check out the awesome setlist).

In honor of a great night, I’ve picked out some of my Simon faves.

Don’t Call Me Al

Before I knew who Paul Simon was, I knew that crazy video with the two guys dancing and lip synching. The video made me laugh, the music made me want to dance, and it just sounded so cool. I was hooked. I’d watch for the video on MTV… you know back in the days when the M stood for music instead of morons. I never scoff at hilarity of Chevy Chase either (one of these days, I need to write my ode to Christmas Vacation).

Bleecker Street

A much documented fact is that I become obsessed with vinyl (I said records back in the day) in my teenage years. I can still clearly remember a Saturday afternoon at the Old 54 flea market where I bought an old army jacket and a vinyl copy of Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme. I remember the musty smell of the record, the way it would pop on the 6 o'clock news song and make it even more hauntingly awesome, and how I insisted on wearing that stupid jacket all of the time even though Florida is about a million degrees. Soon after, I had every S&G album and I would listen to them for hours while I painted in my bedroom. Their music will always be so extremely special to me for that. This is one of my favorite songs. 

The Afterlife

This is from So Beautiful Or So What. What I love the most about this is the totally snarky view on death (I hope, I'm not always good at guessing what other people's work is about). Maybe we should all work harder at adopting a sense of humor. Plus, it really makes me want to dance.

The Sound of Silence

I included this song because hearing him sing it live was like a religious experience. I don’t even mind admitting that my eyes went a bit teary. The thing about Simon is that when he was in his 20s, he was already writing the songs with the grace and beauty of an old soul. He saw the world and wrote about it with honesty, integrity, and intelligence. Seeing him with just a guitar and a dark stage performing that song, a smidge older, was just perfect. I almost wish that he would put out a live album of him singing some of the old S&G songs. I like that he sings them a bit different now yet still includes all the heart and soul.

The Only Living Boy in New York

I have to include this song too because it seemed like few people cheered as loudly as they should have when he played it. This song is sincerely brilliant.

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