Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Cage Match! Paul Simon vs. David Byrne!!
I've been listening to So Beautiful or So What, Paul Simon's latest CD, and thinking, “This is absolutely brilliant. But do people care?”
The question is a hold-over from a snide discussion I initiated at a party, back when Graceland was all the rage. I was single at the time, and noted that my married friends all had and loved and played the album at soirées like the one I was at. Single hipsters like myself, on the other hand, preferred the stylings of David Byrne, who was just as fond of setting free-association lyrics to “worldbeat” textures. Both men had voices that communicated a forced innocence, but Byrne's was so patently false it was actually menacing — and sexy. “Menacing” and “sexy” were qualities a single young guy aspired to; Simon, on the other hand, was unabashedly sweet.
A quarter-century later, I have to admit that Graceland has probably edged out Stop Making Sense in my rotating playlist. It's also worth noting that I've been married for 17 of those years. So does Simon garner any of the breathless reverence that Byrne still does?
Nope. But it's only a matter of another week or two before So Beautiful or So What catches up to and supersedes Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.
Jim Fusilli ponders Simon's legacy issue, here.