As with last week, I couldn’t decide what to recommend for my slot today. All I knew was that I wanted to write a recommendation for an album. As I was driving around this afternoon, Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years played and it struck me what a sublimely crafted album it was. So, without much ado, here is why you should all go and listen to Still Crazy After All These Years (from here on out known as Still Crazy as I can’t be arsed to type the whole thing out each time).
“Some folk’s lives roll easy as a breeze
Drifting through a summer night
Heading for a sunny day,
But most folks’ lives, they stumble
Lord they fall
Through no fault of their own.
Most folks never catch their stars.”
-Some Folks’ Lives Roll Easy
Released in 1975, Still Crazy was Paul Simon’s 4th solo album (following The Paul Simon Songbook, Paul Simon, and There Goes Rhymin’ Simon). This album won him two Grammys, including Album of the Year, although Paul half-joked that the only reason he won was because Stevie Wonder hadn’t released an album that year … Stevie Wonder won in 1974 for Innervisions, 1975 for Fulfillingness’ First Finale, and then again the near after Simon in 1977 for Songs in the Key of Life. A nice fact to take away from this article is that Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, and Paul Simon are the only people to ever win the award for Album of the Year three times.
I am a huge Paul Simon fan (as well as Simon and Garfunkel) and I’m inclined to say that this album is his second best solo effort … as nothing really comes close to Graceland -- but that’s what happens when you write a perfect album. What strikes me most about this album is how accomplished and clean the sound is. There is not one duff note … literally and metaphorically speaking. The album flows from one track to another without one hiccough. The songs are truly beautiful and show off the softest side of Paul Simon that we have ever seen on any solo album, before or after.
It’s hard to pick out the best tracks off of the album as all ten are quintessential Paul Simon songs and so this album would be a good starting point for any aspiring fan … even if the pace is slower on this album then on Paul Simon or Graceland as it lacks any of the pumping pop tracks like ‘Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard’ or ‘You Can Call Me Al’. What it does have, however, is the masterfully sublime ’50 Ways to Leave Your Lover’ (a particular favourite of my mothers, if anyone’s interested … which you’re probably not). A massive hit on its first release, the song went to number one on the US Billboard Top 100 – staggeringly, the only Paul Simon song to do so in his homeland. The song features a military-esque drum beat that repeats through the song as Simon plays around with various names in a lyrical smorgasbord of delight.
“The problem is all inside your head, she said to me.
The answer is easy if you take it logically.
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free;
There must be 50 ways to leave your lover.”
-50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
If I had a gun to my head and had to choose my personal favourite track from the album, then I’d have to go with ‘My Little Town’. Aside from being a rousing song that starts with a simple melody to an anthemic chorus that repeats throughout the second half, this is the only song recorded by Simon and Garfunkel since the 1970 release of Bridge Over Troubled Water. Although this is a Paul Simon solo album through and through, they were able to reconcile their differences to record this truly stupendous song. It’s a little taste of what could have been if only they’d have been able to put aside their differences and record new material together. Paul Simon’s songs are some of the cleverest and most beautiful songs ever written, but they need Art Garfunkel’s angelic voice to elevate them to God-like perfection.
“My Mom doing the laundry,
Hanging out shirts in the dirty breeze.
And after it rains there’s a rainbow
And all of the colours are black.
It’s not that the colours aren’t there,
It’s just imagination they lack”
-My Little Town
Yes, the album has a more mellow nature than his some of his other works, but if you’re in the mood for a slice of peace and quiet on a Sunday afternoon, with a cup of tea and a game of Candy Crush, then this album needs to be the one you reach for. It’s a near perfect collection of songs from one of the last true geniuses of the song writing craft.
Track Listing (*Particular Favourites):
- Still Crazy After All These Years*
- My Little Town*
- I Do it for Your Love
- 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover*
- Night Game*
- Gone at Last
- Some Folks’ Lives Roll Easy*
- Have a Good Time
- You’re Kind
- Silent Eyes*