Relaxing to some Paul Simon.
Funny, and formative, story here. I was in a fraternity back in the 'ole days, and our treasurer did something really stupid that caused us to owe something like $3k to the university. We were able to work some of it off by cleaning up after - you guessed it - a Paul Simon concert. The concert ran late, so we got there before it ended and were basically off to a corner of the stage for the encore. Paul played Kodachrome to finish of the night, and it was just frickin electric - of course I'd heard the song many times before then on the radio, but I guess I never really got it until then. The agony and boredom of cleaning up the auditorium afterwards didn't deter my enthusiasm, and I've really enjoyed his music ever since. Earlier this year I listened to Rhythm of the Saints for the first time, and I have to say that I was blown away again (I guess Negotiations and Love Songs had come out before this album). The guy is simply amazing.
Channeling Douglas Adams, I would say Paul Simon is America's answer to Paul McCartney. He just seems to be unable to write a bad song.
At least until his misstep with Songs from The Capeman. His newest, Surpise, is a bit dissappointing to me. But more because it wasn't what I expected rather than what it is. Things are rarely the sum of their parts, and a pairing of Paul Simon and Brian Eno brought to mind something entirely different than what it ended up as being.
Rhythym of the Saints is an amazing album/CD. It's was part of a trifecta of aging rock artists looking to Brazil for inspiration and new artistic life. All three ended up with great albums as a result. The first was David Byrne. In 1989 he released Rio Momo to eyes wide in surprise. What is the Talking Heads front man doing releasing a latin music album? It spawned a minor hit with Loco d Amour, and was moderatly successful. Byrne got a lot of respect for what he did. Simon followed the following year with Rhythym, and finally Jon Anderson of Yes came out with Deseo. All three are absolute jems without a bad song on them. All three featured the artist going down to Brazil and working with Milton Naciamento, and other local heros. It wasn't my introduction to latin music, but it was something rekindled an interest in that music.
For Simon it was a kind of interesting, but in hindsight, obvious direction to go after exploring African rhythyms with Graceland. Many though he would go right back to Africa and milk that sound some more. But Simon never seems to be interested in doing what will sell albums. He just doesn't need to worry about that anymore. He challenges us, but we always seem to rise to the challenge.