News & Insights 18 July 2012

My Top Ten Lyrics from Graceland

So even thought he’s kinda short and these days looks a bit like a potato, I’d still probably bloody marry the guy.
– She makes the sign of the teaspoon, he makes the sign of the wave
Reminds me of my good friends Emily & Skinny (from our song, Emily), and how sometimes people just fit together. Always makes me smile.
– Hey, don’t I know you from the cinematographer’s party?
– The Mississippi delta was shining like a national guitar
– I am following the river down the highway through the cradle of the civil war
the way he evokes centuries of history with a single, casual tossing of words
– There is a girl in New York City who calls herself the human trampoline
You think – I get that, and it’s funny. And it is. But then he twists the meaning in the lyrics that follow – look it up and you’ll see what i mean)
– She was physically forgotten, then she slipped into my pocket with my car keys
– He’s a poor boy, empty as a pocket
– He sees angels in the architecture, spinning in infinity
– Cattle in the marketplace, scatterlings and orphanages
Paul has the ____ of a novelist. He paints this insane pictures
This shouldn’t work as a lyric. It just shouldn’t. But somehow, it does. And that is Paul Simon’s genius.
And the obvious winner…
– He ducked down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl
Nobody, but NOBODY else writes lyrics like this and even if they didIn  they’d never get away with it.

The Lightyears performing 'Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes' in Cape Town, South Africa.In The Lightyears, as I’m sure is the case with many bands, we’re all a bit obsessed with Paul Simon. I can honestly say that the number of times I’ve listened to Graceland absurdly outweighs any other album in my collection.

And in honour of Paul’s Graceland reunion performance in Hyde Park last Sunday (marred only, according to the reviews, by a suspiciously quiet sound system possibly resulting from Saturday night’s Springsteen-gate – read my rant about this here), I thought I’d publish my Top Ten Lyrics From Graceland.

Because, to be frank, even though he’s kinda short and these days looks a bit like a potato, I’d probably still bloody marry Paul Simon.

Here we go then. In a sort of approximate, backwards order.

10. “The Mississippi delta was shining like a national guitar”
from Graceland
– This simple line sums up everything that’s awesome about Paul Simon. He has this ability to write lyrics that mean absolutely nothing, and absolutely everything, at the same time.

9. “Cattle in the marketplace, scatterlings and orphanages”
from You Can Call Me Al
–  Paul evokes details and scenes like a novelist. The words themselves are musical – not just the chords and melodies behind them.

8. “He sees angels in the architecture, spinning in infinity”
from You Can Call Me Al
– How to make buildings sound like poetry.

7. “She was physically forgotten but then she slipped into my pocket with my car keys”
from Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes
First of all, not many people could sing ‘physically forgotten’ with panache, and secondly – that car keys image is just magic.

6. “Hey, don’t I know you from the cinematographer’s party?”
from I Know What I Know
This shouldn’t work as a lyric. It just shouldn’t. But somehow, it does. And that’s the man’s genius – conversational off-the-cuffs turned into classic lines.

5. “He’s a poor boy, empty as a pocket”
from Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes
I love this, because for eight small words this line does so much work. In the empty pocket is the possibility of a full pocket – and so you learn that, although he’s poor, this boy has dreams, aspirations and ambition.

4. “There is a girl in New York City who calls herself the human trampoline”
from Graceland
– You think ‘oh yeah, I get that, she’s a slapper, that’s clever and funny’. And it is. But then he twists the meaning in the lyrics that follow – look it up and you’ll see what I mean.

3. “I am following the river down the highway through the cradle of the civil war”
from Graceland
– Evoking centuries of history, casually, in just a few words. Amazing.

2. “She makes the sign of the teaspoon, he makes the sign of the wave”
from Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes
– Reminds me of my good friends Emily & Skinny (from our song, Emily), and how sometimes people just fit together. Always makes me smile.

And the inevitable winner…

1. “He ducked down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl”
from You Can Call Me Al
– Nobody else writes lyrics like this, and even if they tried to they’d never get away with it.

Have I missed any out…?!

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