Sunday, October 4, 2015

Paul Simon: Two Songs That Each Span Half A Lifetime

First, ‘Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War’; then "The Obvious Child,".

I always wondered why the Magrittes song and The Obvious Child brought tears to my eyes. Finally today it dawned on me why: each of these songs describes a series of events in a person's life (or two people's lives), and manages to elide half a lifetime in a couple of sentences.
First, the Magrittes:

Rene and Georgette Magritte
With their dog after the war
Were strolling down Christopher Street
When they stopped in a men's store
With all of the mannequins dressed in the style
That brought tears to their immigrant eyes
Just like The Penguins, the Moonglows
The Orioles, and The Five Satins
The easy stream of laughter
Flowing through the air
Rene and Georgette Magritte
With their dog apres la guerre

Side by side
They fell asleep
Decades gliding by like Indians
Time is cheap
When they wake up they will find
All their personal belongings
Have intertwined


Cool: "Decades gliding by like Indians / Time is cheap" ... Time flies like an Indian arrow, I suppose. Next, "The Obvious Child":


We had a lot of fun
We had a lot of money
We had a little son and we thought we’d call him Sonny
Sonny gets married and moves away
Sonny has a baby and bills to pay
Sonny gets sunnier
Day by day by day by day


Whew! A very small amount of text covers a lot of years. And similarly...


Sonny sits by the window and thinks to himself
How it’s strange that some roots are like cages
Sonny’s yearbook from high school
Is down on the shelf
And he idl[y] thumbs through the pages
Some have died
Some have fled from themselves
Or struggled from here to get there
Sonny wanders beyond his interior walls
Runs his hands through his thinning brown hair

Again, perhaps a greater part of Sonny's lifetime passes in a mere couple of sentences. Then again, IMNSHO, Simon is one of the truly great lyricists of my generation; your mileage may vary, but if you disagree, you're just wrong... :-)

Please go listen to these songs. Listen to each song whole; as you might expect, the texts work best in context. Then allow yourself to while away an evening listening to more of Simon's music; it will be time well spent, no matter what your age.

No comments:

Post a Comment


• Click here to view existing comments.
• Or enter your new rhyme or reason
in the new comment box here.
• Or click the first Reply link below an existing
comment or reply and type in the
new reply box provided.
• Scrolling manually up and down the page
is also OK.

Static Pages (About, Quotes, etc.)

No Police Like H•lmes