Sunday, January 30, 2011

In praise of a 39-year old masterpiece

This weekend I restored my record deck to pride of place in my work room at home and played a lot of vinyl. I enjoyed There Goes Rhymin' Simon more than anything. Paul Simon's got a new album coming out soon. I expect it will be good but it's unlikely to be as good as "Rhymin' Simon". I doubt it will have songs quite as vivid and spare as these. That would be asking too much.

This is my thirty-ninth year of listening to this record. For most of that time I've absorbed it sub-consciously, with the result that the lyrics occasionally pop into my mind in response to different situations that life presents you with. The line from "Kodachrome" about the old girlfriends never matching his sweet imagination. The line from "Tenderness" saying you don't have to lie to me as long as you give me some tenderness beneath your honesty. The observation in "Learn How To Fall" about life being "an occupation where the wind prevails". It's not just beautiful and uniquely memorable. It's as if "Rhymin' Simon" has gone before.


  1. JOOI, this appears to be out of 'print' in CD. Was going to buy a copy for my wife on your recommendation. I guess I'll just have to get her the JLS album instead.

  2. And released in 1973; maybe not quite the vintage year of '71, but it comes pretty close.

  3. As you have said about the Beatles-a much underrated artist.

    I watched what I think was a South Bank special on him and he agreed with the interviewer that Hearts and Bones was somehow a miss-step in his career and that he wasn't happy with it?! I think that it is one of his best albums with some of the greatest break-up songs ever.

    Hearts and Bones, a song of a love that never completely dies and the wonderful imagery of "The arc of a love affair/Rainbows in the high desert air."

    Everybody Loves the Sound of a Train in the Distance:
    "Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance/Everybody thinks it's true /What is the point of this story /What information pertains /The thought that life could be better /Is woven indelibly /Into our hearts /And our brains"

    Think Too Much:
    "They say the left side of the brain/It dominates the right./And the right side has to labour through/the long and speechless night"

  4. I'm at that phase of life when you like to trawl the back catalogues (or the internet will do nicely) for the artists and albums behind the radio soundtrack of distant youth.

    Kodachrome was a part of my transistor days as a kid in Oz, though I've never owned a solo PS record; your post sent me to this LP and I thank you for that.