Review #425: Paul Simon, Paul Simon

Karla Clifton
2 min readAug 4, 2023

#425: Paul Simon, Paul Simon

Simon’s first solo album after S&G broke up in 1970, but his second solo album total, after the less-inspired 1965 Paul Simon Songbook. During the year between the breakup and self-titled, Simon taught songwriting at NYU. What do you think Simon’s NYU experience was? I hear mixed things.

In any case, Paul Simon borrowed a lot from the southern hemisphere, especially later on Graceland. Here, all the hits have some international elements; see the Brazilian cuico solo in “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and the Toots & the Maytals backed “Mother and Child Reunion,” which was inspired by a Chinese chicken-and-egg dish. (Side note: Check out the Capital-C-Celebrity music video for “Julio,” featuring John Madden & Mickey Mantle.) Even his most American-sounding country western “Hobo’s Blues” he features a French violinist, Stéphane Grappelli of Django Reinhardt fame.

Paul Simon can tell stories about anything from running away to bad news from doctors (“Duncan” & “Run That Body Down,” where he calls himself and his wife Peg Harper by name). He casually fires off poetry, carbon monoxide becoming Detroit perfume (“Papa Hobo”), congressmen avoiding him (“Armistice Day”), and the Flannery O’Connor callback (“Everything Put Together Falls Apart”). And he plays guitar fine, too (“Peace Like a River,” “Congratulations”).

There’s not much to say about Paul Simon that I haven’t already said. That’s the problem you run into with artists that are included multiple times — you can’t talk about apartheid every time.

Fun Fact: Paul Simon and Peggy Harper named their child Harper Simon, which I think is weird.

Review #424: Odelay, Beck

Review #426: Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams