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Pleasant....But Not My Favorite
on May 12, 2003
I am a huge fan of Paul Simon's music, but I am afraid that I have always seen this album as my second-to-least-favorite of his solo albums. (One Trick Pony, if you must know, is last in my estimation.) I understand that this album is very personal and introsdpective and meaningful to manyh people, but I find it to be less captivating, less unique and fresh on the whole. However, several of my very FAVORITE of Simon's songs are on this album, interspersed with less compelling ones. As a result, I will go through song by song:
1. STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS is laidback, with a nice melody and casually insightful lyrics. It is poignant, but to me the real downfall of this song is the flowery overproduction it descends into by the middle. Maybe I'm just a jerk, but lay off the saxophone, will ya'?
2. MY LITTLE TOWN has some of the hardest, most biting lyrics on the album which are unfortunately lost in a not particularly memorable melody. It is interesting, but leaves me colder than many of his other songs.
3. I DO IT FOR YOUR LOVE is a song that I do enjoy. It's simple and quiet, but a very distinctive and almost infectious melody keeps it contantly interesting. And it's a true, poignant, and understated sentiment.
4. 50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LOVER is another one of my all-time favorites. Yes, it's QUIET, like the rest of the album, but it has that famously driving beat and mischievous tune; the lyrics are refreshingly playful and suave at once...a nice change of pace for this album.
5. NIGHT GAME is perhaps Simon's darkest song; it's small and unassuming, yet tragic...but at the same time it doesn't touch me as a piece of MUSIC. I almost feel as if deep sentiment, while essential to his masterful lyrics, has taking too much of an upper hand over interesting and vibrant music in many of these songs. It is certainly powerful, but I fear not a personal favorite.
6. GONE AT LAST totally shatters this, being as exuberant and joyous and beautiful a song as Night Game is languid and sad. A gospel-style duet with the amazing Phoebe Snow, this song lights up the album with true life and relief.
7. SOME FOLKS' LIVES ROLE EASY is again not a personal favorite, I find it not very memorable in lyrics or tune, though of course I feel terrible about saying that :(
8. HAVE A GOOD TIME, I must admit, I love. I love hearing Simon, so SERIOUS on this album, having a moment of more irreverent sentiment...don't be offended by this song--in the very disregard it professes I believe there to be truly something more...don't take it at face value, could it possibly have a tiny element of satire?
9. YOU'RE KIND is a warm song, yet with cheekier message, and I really really like it very much...there's sonething in the simpleness of the pronunciation of every syllable (OK you need to HEAR it to know what I mean) and the laid-back yet interesting feel, and of course the little twist at the end, which really appeal to me.
10. SILENT EYES, unfortunately, goes back to the category of songs which leave me colder, which I find unmemrorable.
SO, in total this album is a quiet record with moments of serene (an a bit louder) exuberance and other moment of deep and dark reflection. It is an important if you really love Simon's music, but if you are looking for an intro into his solo albums, go for PAUL SIMON 1972 or RHYMIN SIMON, the go on to GRACELAND, etc...It's not my favorite, but among less exciting songs this album definitely has its extremely high points.