After The Flood
- Wash away the loose ground.
- Late night drink sessions are always candid. With my old JC friends, it gets really funny. Miss them much, especially as more and more of them go strike it out overseas, or get married, or both.
- New year dawning. Can't wait for it. I always feel ready to start anew. Of course, six months down the road, I'll be back where I'm used to be. Whatever.
- A quick Top 10 list before I go. Paul Simon has a way of with words unlike any other songwriters. No one writes songs as poignant, in as literate a manner, as he does. Beneath his wealth of words, lies an attention to emotional detail no one else comes close to.
10 You Can Call Me Al
At his most fun, he can be as nonsensical as John Lennon on LSD. This is his "I Am The Walrus". Check out one of the most beautiful bass breaks in pop history late in this song.
9 Slip Slidin' Away
What a downer of a song. Of course, he had to marry to one of the beautiful folk melodies for the poignancy to hit home. The spine-tingling line: "We're working our jobs/Collect our pay/Believe we're gliding down the highway/When in fact we're slip slidin' away".
8 The Cool, Cool River
Late-era Simon songs are embellished by world music. This one marries South American percussion to a powerful lament on man's powerlessness against the forces of nature. It's a stunning, surging epic, ending with one of his best couplets: "My life's so common, it disappears/And sometimes even music/Cannot substitute for the tears."
7 Homeward Bound
Best song about a songster's homesickness. "All my words come back to me/In shades of mediocrity/Like emptiness in harmony/I need someone to comfort me."
6 Mrs Robinson
Bouyant and whimsical, Simon paints the 1960s with humourous flair. And here's to you, Mrs Robinson.
5 The Sound Of Silence
His first hit, with Garfunkel. Try listen to this song live, and not have a tear in your eyes when they sing, in their perfect harmony: "And the sign said, the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls/And tenement halls/And whispered in the sound of silence."
4 Hearts And Bones
Written during his marriage breakdown, it is naturally heartbreaking. An underrated classic. "Tell me why/Why won't you love me/For who I am/Where I am?"
3 Bridge Over Troubled Water
What an apt metaphor for friendship, sung in Garfunkel's beautiful tenor. The irony is that this song was made when his and Garfunkel's relationship was at their worst. Absolutely a hymn. "I'll take your part/Oh, when darkness comes/And pain is all around/Like a bridge over troubled water/I will lay me down."
2 The Boxer
Awesome tale of everyman's fight to survive. When the "Li-la-li" refrain begins, you're swept away by the cinematic grandeur and tragedy. "In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade/And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down/Or cut him till he cried out in his anger and his shame/I am leaving, I am leaving/But the fighter still remains."
The one song where his music matches the poignancy and richness of his lyrics. Credit the South African backing band that created the looping, uplifting rhythms and exquisite guitar fills. But the lyrics are all Simon, and I think it's about his recovery from his failed marriage. Such a beautiful metaphor, comparing the recovery to a trip to Graceland, surely every American musician's Mecca. And therein lies his greatest and truest line: "And I see losing love is like a window in your heart/Everybody sees you're blown apart/Everybody feels the wind blow."