“Train in the Distance” [acoustic version]
Wow. Earlier I was literally paralyzed by the beauty of this track. So much so that I missed a phone call (which I’m guessing was a listener calling to inform me of the sad news that Phil Everly has passed).
This is another cut from the Paul Simon Complete Album Collection that came out this year (and includes dozens of bonus tracks). I think the absolute artistry of Paul Simon’s songwriting just completely takes a hold of me when I can hear it so starkly with just a guitar.
I think this became one of my all-time favorite songs tonight.
“I Am A Rock” [alternate version]
I’ve heard this song SO MANY times before, but recently I heard this particular version from the Paul Simon Songbook (1965) and I was deeply moved. Here it’s just Paul and his guitar…and stripped down this way, every word cuts through me. It’s so brilliantly written. And at this particular time in my life, it’s really resonating with me.
Part of what this song means to me right now plays on the fact that I’m living on an island, heading into another winter. It’s an easy time to build up walls and pull away from people. I’m happy to report that I’m leaving the island today for a two week vacation that will have me in four different US cities visiting with some dear friends. I’m very glad to put off my inevitable hibernation for a little while longer.
“A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December
I am alone
Gazing from my window to the streets below
on a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow
I am a rock
I am an island
I’ve built walls
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain
I am a rock
I am an island
Talk of love
Well I’ve heard the word before
It’s sleeping in my memory
And I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried
I am a rock
I am an island
I have my books and my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock
I am an island
And a rock can feel no pain
And an island never cries”
It’s always fun for me to decide what music to play while entertaining guests…and it’s especially nice when someone compliments the choices. I felt like this particular list went over very well and created a perfect mood for dinner with friends.
(We listened to the full albums, but the playlist below is a song from each so you can get a taste!)
Paul Simon – Graceland
Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts
Rodriguez – Searching for Sugar Man Soundtrack
Ryan Adams – Ashes and Fire
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – I Learned The Hard Way
These words really hit me hard when I heard them this morning…
“and you feel like you’re swimming in an ocean of love
and the current is strong
but all that remains when you try to explain
is a fragment of song”
Paul Simon – “So Beatiful Or So What”
I can’t say this is my favorite sounding track on Paul Simon’s latest album, but it does have a killer message. These words have been coming up in my mind a lot lately…’so beautiful or so what’ really seems like a helpful mantra for when you start to search for those questions in life that just can’t be answered.
“I’m going to tell my kids a bedtime story
A play without a plot
Will it have a happy ending?
Maybe yeah, maybe not
I tell them life is what you make of it
So beautiful or so what“
Paul Simon’s Graceland Journey
Tonight I saw a wonderful documentary about Paul Simon’s album, Graceland and the concert he put on with the original recording band to celebrate it’s 25th anniversary. It discussed the controversy surrounding the recording of the album and the subsequent tour (during both, South African musicians were breaking the ANC’s cultural boycott during the apartheid).
While discussing all of this, the documentary really clearly spoke to the universal power of music, and by showing clips of the original recording sessions, it breathed a whole new life into Graceland. I feel like I’ll forever listen to the songs with new ears. A true must-see for any Paul Simon fan.
Under African Skies
1. (TIE) Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues / Feist – Metals
I’ve mulled over this for a long time and there’s simply NO WAY for me to choose one of these albums over the other. In my opinion, these two stand far apart from the rest. Early in the year, I was blown away by Helplessness Blues, an album that really resonated with ME in this year of my life. Then, in October, Metals came out and I wasn’t really sure what to make of it at first. But the more I listened, the more it felt like my eyes were opening to a universally brilliant piece of art. I guess I could say that Helplessness Blues might be my FAVORITE of the year, while Metals is the BEST.
3. Paul Simon – So Beautiful Or So What
4. Adele – 21
5. The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
6. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
7. Tedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator
8. Lisa Hannigan – Passenger
9. Wilco – The Whole Love
10. Amos Lee – Mission Bell
11. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
12. Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong
13. Beirut – The Rip Tide
14. Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know
15. Middle Brother – Middle Brother
16. The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart
17. Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials
18. Alex Ebert – Alexander
19. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
20. My Morning Jacket – Circuital
21. The Strokes – Angles
22. Peter Bjorn & John – Gimme Some
23. Robbie Robertson – How To Become Clairvoyant
24. Chris Thile & Michael Daves – Sleep With One Eye Open
25. Radiohead – The King Of Limbs
Happy New Year!
Paul Simon – So Beautiful Or So What
This was the first of those 3 albums I became hooked on this year. Sadly, it was extremely overlooked, but I hardly think it matters for this legendary singer/songwriter who turned 70 this year (read my thoughts on that, HERE). Paul Simon continues to churn out some of the best songwriting I’ve ever heard on this album. The first four songs are incredibly strong, with especially “Rewrite” making a lasting impression. While there are tracks I found myself skipping over, all in all this album is one of Simon’s best of the last 2 decades.
Paul Simon turns 70
There are some musicians that played a large part in my childhood and who sort of faded into the background as I got older. In April, Paul Simon released a gorgeous album of songs that’s one of my favorite albums of this year. This is the same artist who put out “You Can Call Me Al” in 1986, one year after I was born. The video to that song is one of my earliest memories.
I vividly remember singing “Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes” late night with friends in college. I’ll never ever forget spinning a Simon & Garfunkel album in the basement of my grandparent’s Cape house – the soundtrack to my favorite summer. I can remember the first time I REALLY listened to “A Dangling Conversation”, and how much it moved me. Paul Simon’s tunes perfectly compliment some of my favorite movies – like “The Only Living Boy In NY” in Garden State and “Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard” in The Royal Tenenbaums. I remember falling a little bit more in love with my boyfriend, the first time he played his version of “Duncan” for me. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was one of my Mom & Dad’s romantic tunes when they first got together. And lately, I’ve really been enjoying “Obvious Child” and “Late In The Evening” after finally seeing Simon and his dynamite band live at the Wang in Boston earlier this year.
70 years old today and still putting out songs that REALLY move me, Paul Simon is one of my favorite artists of all time. His music has been the soundtrack to my life.
Happy Birthday Paul!
My favorite track from the new album, “Dazzling Blue”
I’ve been making what I call “block” mixes for my Dad for a few years now. I pick two songs from every artist I decide to include and put them one after another…hence the term “block”. It’s usually newer stuff and things I’ve been listening to non stop. I called this one “Block Mix 2011” but then realized that the Delta Spirit album came out in 2010. Oh well, I suppose it’s just what I’ve really been digging this year.