Friday, April 18, 2008

Let me get a little serious and wistful for a minute

I love Paul Simon, especially his 80s solo albums "Graceland" and "The Rhythm of the Saints". I was thinking about those albums when I read about Paul giving a concert in Brooklyn last week where he performed those two albums with a diverse cast of musicians. I wish I could have been there. With that in the back of my mind, my iPod (on album shuffle) landed on "Rhythm" this morning. The chorus of drums on "The Obvious Child" immediately lifted my spirits. When "Proof" came on, I had a hankering to see the video with Chevy Chase and Steve Martin, so I went to YouTube. In the list of related videos were a number of songs from the album Paul performed in a huge Central Park concert in 1991, so I watched some of those. And now I'm just full of emotions. Paul is such a genius songwriter, and he really did something special with the Rhythm album. To hear and see these songs performed with his huge, multinational band just adds to the incredible experience of his music. Go watch some of them, especially this one. "The Cool, Cool River". It makes me cry.

The Rhythm album always makes me think about a kid I went to high school with, Josh. He was a year below me, and I didn't know him very well. We used to hackey sack together after school and that's about it. One day I ran into Josh outside a record store and we said hi. I asked him what he bought. It was "The Rhythm of the Saints". I was kind of surprised to see a 16 year old kid buying Paul Simon. The year I started college, while Josh was still a senior, he died. I think he got Leukemia, but I can't really remember. While home on a break, I went to my high school's talent show and Josh's best friend sang a song in tribute to Josh. It was "Under the Bridge" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Apparently it was Josh's favorite song. The performance was an emotional moment, but frankly, Josh's friend couldn't sing. He was accompanied by a girl, who allegedly could sing, to do the high parts at the end, but she was just shreiking. I prefer to associate Rhythm of the Saints with Josh instead of that Chili Peppers song. It's such a beautiful album that spans the emotional spectrum from joy and hope to sadness and resignation. If you don't have it, I highly recommend it.