Singing the Old Songs
"Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Ooo, ooo, ooo.
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Joltin' Joe has left and gone away? Hey hey hey."
This week, my ears are ringing with Paul Simon. I didn't get to hear him sing
Mrs. Robinson sitting in the nosebleeds this last Tuesday as he said goodbye to domestic touring. The only song (that I can recall...he played for almost three hours) he stole back from his days of collaborating with Art Garfunkel was the lyrically lilting
Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Garfunkel still sings that the best, by the way, but Paul held his own in a way that only the parent of those lyrics could.
They are his lyrics.
But he covered most of his solo albums, from the folk-heavy
Songbook tracks (
Sound of Silence is perhaps the most famous from that offering) to the Caribbean-influenced beats off of
Rhythm of the Saints.
And the whole time, sitting up there in the nosebleeds, could pick up the slight social commentary interjected throughout most of the pieces.
Though Simon comes from the Folk genre, his songs were never as overtly political as many of his contemporaries (though
American Tune, written just after the Nixon election is a notable exception...which he sang in wonderful voice on Tuesday). And yet, if you listened carefully there was still this feeling of resistance running through his lyrics. A surprise attack on your sensibilities that called you to question what was going on in the world. Or, more rightly, called the world to question how things were going. It worked in a subversive way.
Like water slowly eroding a rock. Like a blister slowly telling you that the shoe doesn't fit.
Like your conscience.