Tag Archives: Paul Simon

Mama Don’t Take My Kodachrome and Leave Your Boy So Far From Home

Some songs are obviously made for headphones. Anything by Pink Floyd. Some classical and jazz.

Paul Simon’s Kodachrome isn’t so obvious, but I just heard a different song from the one I’ve been listening to for lo these many years. (continued)

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Roar of the Ocean at My Window

Lhen I sleep with the window open, I can hear the ocean from my bedroom. Last night, it fairly roared; I’ve never heard it so loud. The storm at sea seems to have whipped it to a frenzy, pounding the shore to release the energy absorbed from the sky.

Almost (but not quite) completely unrelated, on my way home to sleep by the ocean I heard a new (to me) version of a song I love: “Herman’s Hermits, singing “Wonderful World.” Not the very different song covered by Louis Armstrong and a host of others (including Israel Kamakawiwo’ole), but the Sam Cooke, Herb Alpert, and Lou Adler composition. Yes, Lou Adler should sound familiar. He was the producer behind Jan & Dean, Johnny Rivers, Carole King, among others. I first heard his name in a truly great Simon and Garfunkel tune from “Simon & Garfunkel's 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme” called “A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How Was Robert McNamara’d Into Submission)” in which Adler is one of many names in what Drew Wheeler of CDNow calls a “stream-of-consciousness laundry-list of ’60s cultural touchstones, delivered as a self-consciously Dylanesque rant.”

Having been written by three famous names in the music world, I’ve always found it appropriate and fun (and heavenly) to have it recorded by three names perhaps more well known: James Taylor, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel. Released on Art Garfunkel’s “Art Garfunkel's 'Watermark'Watermark” way back in 1977, I was introduced to this version by my sister’s boyfriend (to whom she’s been married for over twenty years now.) Danny’s a sensitive and intelligent guy who has introduced me to a lot of wonderful music over the last quarter century.

Herman's Hermits 'Greatest Hits'This particular “Wonderful World” has also been recorded by Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music, Don McLean, and, as I mentioned, Herman’s Hermits. But don’t buy their greatest hits for this version; buy it for “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter”, “I’m Henry The VIII, I Am”, “There’s A Kind Of Hush All Over The World”, and “I’m Into Something Good”, a Carole King composition that lifts my heart every time I hear it.

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Sunny Days Have Burnt A Path

I prefer lyrics that make me think. The banal repetitive lyrics of the average pop song are okay if they’re carried by a spectacular voice or accompanied by really good music. But intelligent or thought-provoking lyrics can get by with a lot less window dressing.

From my earliest childhood, this attitude has been influenced by the songs of Paul Simon. My perspective of the entire marketing field has always been colored by Simon’s “Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine” just as the first mental pictures I formed of New York were pleasant, happy images, wrapped around the 59th Street Bridge. Paul has always been introspective, and his lyrics are full of self-analysis, and, on occasion, the anguish and doubt which sometimes result. “Ten Years”, written for the anniversary of a television show (10 points if you can guess it) has meaning and value far beyond its origins. The singer looks back, noting the rapid passage of time, feeling a dearth of accomplishment; then, looks forward, wondering if the future holds more of the same.

CarnivalSimon is a wordsmith. From the opening lines

 You are moving on a crowded street through various shades of people

through

 the sky turns dark as stone

to the final line

 sunny days have burnt a path across another season

he chooses slightly unusual descriptions for the mundane, the expected, and thereby makes them something entirely new and different. Simon’s voice is as simple as always; the musical accompaniment sounds much like an outtake from “Graceland”; but the lyrics make the song stand out among his works.

The song first appeared, in shortened form, on the Oprah Winfrey show. The full version is only available on Carnival“, an album to benefit the Rainforest Foundation, and featuring Sting, <James Taylor, The Chieftans, and others.

In spite of the bleak lyrics, the song feels hopeful. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but when he sings

 If you look into your future life ten years from this question, do you imagine a familiar light burning in the distance?

I do indeed imagine a familiar light, but it’s a light I’d like to see.

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