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Paul Simon Old and New

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I adore Paul Simon, and I just discovered a relatively new song to love, from his latest CD, Surprise. I don’t know if the lyrics to this one stand alone, as the music is quite powerful, but…

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Wartime Prayers

Prayers offered in times of peace are silent conversations,
Appeals for love or love’s release
In private invocations
But all that is changed now,
Gone like a memory from the day before the fires.
People hungry for the voice of God
Hear lunatics and liars
Wartime prayers, wartime prayers
In every language spoken,
For every family scattered and broken.

Because you cannot walk with the holy,
If you’re just a halfway decent man.
I don’t pretend that I’m a mastermind
With a genius marketing plan.
I’m trying to tap into some wisdom,
Even a little drop will do.
I want to rid my heart of envy
And cleanse my soul of rage
Before I’m through.

Times are hard, it’s a hard time
But everybody knows all about hard times.
The thing is, what are you gonna do?
Well, you cry and try to muscle through
Try to rearrange your stuff
But when the wounds are deep enough,
It’s all that we can bear,
We wrap ourselves in prayer.

Because you cannot walk with the holy,
If you’re just a halfway decent man.
I don’t pretend that I’m a mastermind
With a genius marketing plan.
I’m trying to tap into some wisdom,
Even a little drop willdo.
I want to rid my heart of envy
And cleanse my soul of rage
Before I’m through.
A mother murmurs in twilight sleep
And draws her babies closer.
With hush-a-byes for sleepy eyes,
And kisses on the shoulder.
To drive away despair
She says a wartime prayer.

And, the past few days I’ve been thinkin’ ’bout the last lines to an older song of Paul’s, from Hearts and Bones
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Train in the Distance

She was beautiful as southern skies
The night he met her
She was married to someone
He was doggedly determined that he would get her
He was old, he was young
From time to time he’d tip his heart
But each time she withdrew
Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
Everybody thinks it’s true
Well eventually the boy and the girl get married
Sure enough they have a son
And though they both were occupied
With the child she carried
Disagreements had begun
And in a while they fell apart
It wasn’t hard to do
Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
Everybody thinks it’s true
Two disappointed believers
Two people playing the game
Negotiations and love songs
Are often mistaken for one and the same
Now the man and the woman
Remain in contact
Let us say it’s for the child
With disagreements about the meaning
Of a marriage contract
Conversations hard and wild
But from time to time
He makes her laugh
She cooks a meal or two
Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
Everybody thinks it’s true
Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
Everybody thinks it’s true
What is the point of this story
What information pertains
The thought that life could be better
Is woven indelibly
Into our hearts
And our brains

And finally, for America’s Birthday, a day late, from There Goes Rhymin’ Simon

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American Tune

Many’s the time i’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but i’m alright, i’m alright
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far a-way from home, so far away from home

I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees
Oh, but it’s alright, it’s alright
For we lived so well so long
Still, when i think of the
Road we’re traveling on
I wonder what’s gone wrong
I can’t help it, i wonder what’s gone wrong

And i dreamed i was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And i dreamed i was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The statue of liberty
Sailing away to sea
And i dreamed i was flying

We come on the ship they call the mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the a-ge’s most uncertain hours
And sing an american tune
Oh, and it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And i’m trying to get some rest
That’s all i’m trying to get some rest

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One response »

  1. I don’t think I can compose a comment worthy of being paired with the lyrics to American Tune.

    His lyrics have held up well over the decades.

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