Have you grabbed your free copy of my album honoring the music of Paul Simon? It’s available right here right now! – music.lorenradis.com/album/paul-simon
Got it? OK! Now, if you’re wondering why I chose the songs I did, read on, you’ll learn everything you want to know
Bookends – OK, so this one’s kind of a cheat, not really a song in its own right. It’s only got two verses and is about a minute long, but this song has always sort of haunted me. it’s got a beautiful guitar part – I’ve always been a sucker for inverted thirds – and the lyrics are simple but poignant; a young man’s attempt to imagine what will be important to him in old age.
Bleecker Street – A great old Simon & Garfunkel song, it doesn’t seem to get the same amount of love as songs like Bridge Over Troubled Water and Sound of Silence, but I think it’s just as, if not more, effective of a song. It excels invoking the atmostphere of the time and place about which it is written. I’ve never been to New York at all, but I feel like I’m in young Paul’s shoes walking down the streets through the foggy twilight, listening to the sounds of life emanating from the many shops and cafes all around. I couldn’t change much about this song, but I tried to at least completely revamp the guitar part, make it my own.
You Can Call Me Al – I read once that Paul Simon wrote this song about a party he attended where another guest mis-heard Paul’s and Paul’s wife’s (Peggy) names as Al and Betty, and that’s where the idea came from. That synopsis does such a disservice to this song, in my opinion. If it was just a humorous anecdote about names mispoken at a party, I think it’d have been lost to the fog of memory years ago. It’s so much more than that though, and thus has endured and will continue to endure for decades as a pillar of what pop music can be, commercially viable while maintaining a high level of artistic integrity. The lyrics are so gorgeous, ruminations on growing old, realizing that maybe the goals we’ve been striving for all our lives aren’t as worthy as we once imagined, and the hope of a new beginning, maybe on a “street in a strange world”… I’ve tried to make the lyrics the star in this version of the song, Paul’s arrangement is so dense and fun that it’s easy to miss the depth and sincerity of the lyrics. Enjoy.
Gumboots – Another track from Graceland, probably Mr. Simon’s best known album. This one I changed pretty drastically from the source material too, and for a lot of the same reasons as “You Can Call Me Al”. When I listen to this song, I can’t really tell what he’s saying except for the refrain – “You don’t feel you could love me, but I feel you could.” That line alone was enough to make me decide to cover this song, I love it so. But when I started learning it I realized the rest of the lyrics are exactly what I’ve come to expect from Paul Simon, deep yet simple and beautiful in their subtlety. That chorus though, I can’t get enough of it. “You don’t feel you could love me, but I feel you could.”
So there’s that, I hope you like the songs, and thanks a ton for listening, reading, all that jazz!