Lex on Paul Simon

Lex on Paul Simon
Current mood:  artistic
Category: Music

“Mrs. Robinson.”

It was ’79 or ‘early 80.  I was watching a rerun of the television show “One Day At A Time.”  A couple of the characters starting singing “Mrs. Robinson.”  I can’t explain the sensation I got when I heard the opening lyrics, “And here’s to you . . . ”  Somehow, I knew the words.  We didn’t have any Simon and Garfunkel in the family music library, so the song must have been in the banks of my memory.

On a weekend trip to Record Retreat, I scoured the 45 RPM single section and found a re-issue of the Simon and Garfunkel tune.  I paid a dollar and took it home.  I played it, and it was like I knew the song backwards and forwards.  After playing the song, I flipped it over and played the re-issue’s B-side.  It was a song called “Old Friends / Bookends.”  The sombre tone of the song, along with its really great orchestral backing, held me spellbound.

Turned out that Paul Simon had not only written these songs, but was also resposible for a couple of songs from my not-so-distant AM radio past.  I had heard “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,” “Slip Sliding Away,” “Kodachrome,” and “Mother and Child Reunion,” but didn’t make any kind of connection between his solo material and the songs written while Paul was one half of what would become my favorite singing duo of all time.

The single of “Mrs. Robinson” prompted me to purchase other Simon and Garfunkel single re-issues, such as “The Sound of Silence” backed with “I Am A Rock;” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” backed with “Cecilia;” and “Fakin’ It” backed with an esquisite piece of rock poetry called “The Dangling Conversation.”  I was convinced – I had to have their albums.  I bought them one by one, starting with a greatest hits collection.  I played the vinyl until the surface of the record started to fade.  My tune, for the longest time, was one that Paul claims not to like very much, “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).”  It was short, poetic, and made me want to really learn how to play the acoustic guitar.

Such was my love of Paul’s music that I coaxed my friend (and school choir mate) Jason into learning the entire “Greatest Hits” album so we could sing the songs until I properly learned to play them on piano or guitar (whichever came first).  I must say that I really enjoyed singing with Jason.  He had a lovely high tenor that reminded me of Art Garfunkel’s own voice.

Around this time, Paul Simon had yet another solo hit with “Late In The Evening.”  Its funky, infectious rhythm and Latin horns had me dancing.  Paul was my guy, and for the first few years of learning to play the acoustic guitar, he was my inspiration.  I purchased the “Evening” single, plus his Greatest Hits, Etc. album.  Although I was probably too young for a lot of the mature themes in his songs, I was bowled over by the emotion conveyed in them.

Album after album, song after song, Paul made me want to learn to write music.  A lot of the songs I wrote in my early teens were based on Paul Simon’s songs.  Most of these “lost gems” were overly poetic, made little sense, and sounded a lot like the songs you’d find on those Simon and Garfunkel albums.  They were terrible, if you want to know the truth; but it was Paul’s songs that gave me the inspiration to write.  His words touched me, like those of Lennon and McCartney and Dylan.

The years have flown by, but I never lost the love that I found for Paul’s work.  Musically wonderful and lyrically brilliant, his work (both solo and with Garfunkel) has been a huge inspiration and influence on my life and my own work.  For me, he is the voice of “everyman;” his words and music a still life water color of a now late afternoon of my life, dreams, and wishes.  Thank you, Paul.

(Lex Neon is also known as Alex Oliver, the quirky and often eccentric musical genius of “sunshine pop / rock” band Poppermost.  Check out their music and Lex’s rock rantings at http://www.poppermost.com/).

Please note: Original release date of this album was April 3, 1968.

Currently listening:

~ by Poppermost on October 19, 2009.

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