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.


Scott said...

Fine question! I've liked them both for a very long time but yes, for wildly different reasons.

I've always related to Byrne as a man very plugged in to the physical world -- he delights in the body and beats and bicycles :D -- while Simon has always seemed a quietly spiritual figure, peering into the mists of time, mortality and the soul.

That might be giving him too much credit but, like you say, GRACELAND still resonates 25 years later and SURPRISE was just that. Can't wait to hear the new one :)

Whisky Prajer said...

I'm pretty sure you'll dig this, too, Scott. Let me know what you think.

DarkoV said...

Loved "Graceland" when it first came out. So much so, I then bought the 2004 version as well with additional tracks. Not sure why the latter costs so much now' back in the "day", it was only 13.99. Highly recommended...although $35+ is a tad too much. I bought 2 of his subsequent CD's and was not as thrilled. I'll wait for more info from you WP, before I venture forth with the Amazon-clicking.

Whisky Prajer said...

When it comes to Simon, I have some pre-Graceland stuff, Graceland ... and this. I had a roommate who played The Rhythm of the Saints quite a bit, which I found so underwhelming I never bothered with subsequent releases. Until now. SBoSW is no Graceland, but I'd certainly put it on the same musical plain as, say, Harps & Angels.

I'm sure you'll find someone selling it for less than $10. You have my permission to throw it in the cart, DV.