Thursday, December 6, 2007
No. 267: There Goes Rhymin' Simon
Band: Paul Simon
Album: There Goes Rhymin' Simon
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Paul Simon's third solo album sees him jump around genres and discovers his inner gospel singer.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: The album is not really focused. There are ups and there are downs, but it's not fantastic.
Best song: “Loves Me Like A Rock” is one of those songs I know by heart and love. “Kodachrome” is nice, too.
Worst song: "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" is gutsy, but not good.
Is it awesome?: It's not bad, but I don't really love it.
I've written a little bit about the individuality of music in a recent Metallica piece, though not much. It basically boils down to this: We all experience music in a certain way and that will always pepper our views on any given record. In the case of the Metallica record, it came out and was played a lot when I was in the perfect age for that sort of album. That album is part of my youth.
When my sister and I were young, we watched The Muppet Show a lot. A lot. Our parents had a bunch of VHS tapes of Muppet Show sketches and we'd plop in front of the TV and sing along with the puppets. My introduction to Blondie was through The Muppet Show, as was my introduction to Alice Cooper.
Which brings me to “Loves Me Like A Rock.” Paul Simon was on the show and played two songs (as most musical guests did), one of which was “Loves Me Like A Rock.” He had the Muppets themselves singing the gospel background vocals while he had his acoustic guitar.
It is burned into my brain. I love this song, despite not really having a real bent towards gospel. This sort of crossover is good, if the listener goes out and expands his/her horizons by finding more gospel-type things. I didn't do that, but it could've.
I can't find it online (thanks a lot, YouTube), so I have Simon doing it on the Dick Cavett show:
“Kodachrome” is the other big song from the record and it is a nostalgic look at memory. It gained a small amount of popularity in the late 1990s for Kodak (Kodachrome is a type of film Kodak makes), but it's a nice little upbeat folk number that Simon is so incredibly good at. He opens the song with a line that everyone can identify with -- “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school” -- and the song builds off that relatability.
The album finds other genres, but nothing really hits. “Tenderness” is a love song that misses, while "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" is Simon's attempt at New Orleans-style Dixieland. Instead of sounding like Professor Longhair, it sounds like a DisneyWorld free band.
It's considered one of Simon's best records, but I guess I don't see it. “Loves Me Like A Rock” will always hold a place in my heart, but the most of the record is just OK.