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"CAPTAIN BILLY’S MAGIC 8 BALL" - A New Series Created By William Mesnik, The Mind Behind “Mesmerized”- EPISODE # 25 - "AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM" - FEATURING THE ALBUM "THERE GOES RHYMIN' SIMON" By PAUL SIMON IN HIGH DEFINITION WITH NARRATIVE

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“CAPTAIN BILLY’S MAGIC 8 BALL

“AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM

EPISODE #25: THERE GOES RHYMIN’ SIMON by Paul Simon (1973, CBS)

Songs that always make me cry: On the top of the list has to be Paul Simon’s American Tune. Ironically, one of Mr. Simon’s most well-loved melodies was written by Johan Sebastian Bach for his St. Matthew Passion.

From the beginning of his solo career, Paul Simon has always made good use of diverse resources. As I reflect upon Mother and Child Reunion’s Jamaican flavors, the latin flair of Me and Julio down by the Schoolyard, and, of course the brilliant, African cultural appropriation of Graceland, I can recall the many hours of world music education I received from him – not to mention all the American stuff: Dixieland, Gospel, Cool and Hot Jazz ( with Stephane Grappelli), the Dixie Hummingbirds and the Blind Boys of Alabama – and, of course, Bert Jansch and all the folk stuff that undergirded S & G… And, before that, the teen-age influence of The Everly Brothers on his first Brill Building sides recorded with Artie as “Tom and Jerry.” The list goes on and on. As an artist he’s been inexhaustible in his ability to synthesize and reconstitute what’s always been in the air all around us. So, why not classical?

In There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, his second solo album, he racked up a couple of AM radio hits that must be saluted for their zeitgeist sensitivity: Kodachrome and American Tune. In the first he captures the nostalgia of the “greatest” generation’s children, drifting far from the ideal that was inculcated to them 25 years earlier. Evoking the vividly saturated talismans found in every suburban dresser drawer, Paul Simon was able to tease out some rebellious humor while reflecting on what was lost. In American Tune, the mood is considerably darker and more foreboding. Calling forth dreams of death and dislocation, Simon nonetheless clings to a hope for the future.

Writing American Tune in response to Nixon’s reelection in ’72, Simon was clearly anxious for our country’s direction – and he was right to be. Fast forwarding to 2016 and beyond, the myth of American Exceptionalism, (the belief that, despite our missteps, that we were the best hope for the planet), has been exposed as a corporate lie, designed to sell us stuff – products to be consumed merely for consumption’s own sake. And, now that possible extinction threatens as a result, is there still reason to be hopeful? The song says yes – Stay the course: “tomorrow’s gonna be another workin’ day.” Get some rest, and resume the struggle in the morning.

Side One 1. “Kodachrome” 3:32 2. “Tenderness” 2:53 3. “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” 3:27 4. “Something So Right” 4:33 5. “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor” 3:46

Side Two 6. “American Tune” 3:43 7. “Was a Sunny Day” 3:41 8. “Learn How to Fall” 2:44 9. “St. Judy’s Comet” 3:19 10. “Loves Me Like a Rock” 3:31

2004 remastered reissue bonus tracks

11. “Let Me Live in Your City” (work in progress) 4:21 12. “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” (acoustic demo) 2:31 13. “American Tune” (unfinished demo) 4:03 14. “Loves Me Like a Rock” (acoustic demo) 3:24


By Rich Buckland 09/05/2021 03:23 PM

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