Paul Simon has been one of my favorite artists for decades. He fascinates as it strikes me he produces more fabulous music the more he collaborates with others. His duets with Art Garfunkel certainly have resonance with the 60’s/70’s listeners. Graceland is rightly considered a masterpiece, and in it he resurrected an artistic career from the deep irrelevance of what our musical corporate masters deem “profitable.” Of course, it was massively profitable, and thus the man received the backing to do more along the lines of music-making with Third World artists.
While I know it wasn’t quite as well-received by critics, and it didn’t have monster hits like “… Al” or “Graceland” (one of my favorite three or four Simon songs), I enjoy Rhythm of the Saints just a bit more. Maybe the fusion of southern hemisphere styles seems a little more seamless. And maybe I’ve never quite absorbed the zydeco tracks on the former cd. Or perhaps it’s the ultra-fine guitar work of Vincent Nguini on Saints–that release was his first work with Mr Simon.
The title track of that album has a lyric or two that caught my notice today:
If I have weaknesses don’t let them blind me
Or camouflage all I am wary of
And this one, on my mind as arrangements continue on the home front:
Do my prayers remain unanswered
Like a beggar at your sleeve?
I don’t think I identify with the angst of the relationship songs the man writes. Not any more, anyway. But there’s a searching soul in that image of tugging at God: have I asked too much, is God’s seeming indifference because he’s grown weary of my requests? Maybe that’s part of the rhythm, our mortal insistence on getting noticed, like buskers or other beggars asking something of those who pause to regard what we do.
Have any Paul Simon favorite tunes out there?