At his peak in the mid to late 1970s (only my opinion, of course) Paul Simon wrote some pretty amazing songs. I have no idea what corner of his multi-level brain they came from. Not all of the songs on his albums became super popular, of course, but the lyrics to even some of those were very imaginative, and I liked them a lot. A really lot of them DID become hits, happily. Where do things like the following come from?
"One man's ceiling is another man's floor."
"A mean individual stranded in a black limousine."
"... but there's no tenderness beneath your honesty."
"Shining like a National guitar."
Paul Simon was asked on a talk show if he thought his lyrics would stand alone as poetry. He said no. He was wrong. If you don't believe me, read "Hearts and Bones" sometime. Or "Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War" (on Negotiations and Love Songs.)
Or read this one:
Couple in the next room, bound to win a prize;
They've been going at it all night long.
I'm trying to get some sleep, but these motel walls are cheap,
Lincoln Duncan is my name and here's my song, here's my song.
My father was a fisherman, my mama was a fisherman's friend
And I was born in the boredom of the chowder.
So when I reached my prime, I left my home in the Maritimes
And headed down the turnpike to New England, sweet New England.
Holes in my confidence, holes in the knees of my jeans;
I was left without a penny in my pocket.
Oooo-wee, I was 'bout as destituded as a kid could be
And I wished I'd wore a ring so I could hock it, I'd like to hock it.
Seen a young girl in a parking lot, preaching to a crowd,
Singing sacred songs and reading from the Bible.
Well I told her I was lost and she told me about the Pentecost.
Seen that girl as the road to my survival.
Just later on the very same night, I crept to her tent with a flashlight
And my long years of innocence ended.
She took me to the woods, saying "Here comes something and it feels so good"
And just like a dog I was befriended, I was befriended.
Oh, what a night! - Oh, what a garden of delight!
Even now that sweet memory lingers.
I was playing my guitar and lying underneath the stars,
Just thanking the Lord for my fingers, for my fingers.
Well, I had to think a little bit about that double entendre; the need for fingers to make sounds of happiness on his guitar and the need for fingers to experience the sensation of touch. The following never fails to draw me back through the mists of time whenever I hear it:
"I met my old lover
On the street last night.
She seemed so glad to see me;
I just smiled.
And we talked about some old times
And we drank ourselves some beers.
Still crazy after all these years
Oh, still crazy after all these years.
I found out just today that there is indeed a book of Paul Simon's "poetry" out there. I think I will buy it.