Song of the Day #624: ‘Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard’ – Paul Simon

Back in December, I did a theme week on Simon and Garfunkel, singling out five songs from their brief but storied pairing. But of course the S&G albums are but a small piece of the overall Paul Simon puzzle, so I’m now turning my attention to the man’s solo career. I’ll highlight a song from each of his solo albums over the next two weeks.

Simon and Garfunkel broke up in 1970 and two years later Simon released his first solo album. That self-titled “debut,” I’m ashamed to say, is one of two Paul Simon albums I do not own. Despite my efforts to be a completist when it comes to my favorite artists, I still do have some weird holes in my CD collection.

Paul Simon contained some subtle hints of Simon’s future interest in world music, but for the most part it was a continuation of the sweet, mellow sound he’d developed during the previous decade.

The album’s two biggest hits were first single ‘Mother and Child Reunion’ (a reggae-influenced song about Simon’s dog) and ‘Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard.’

I knew ‘Me and Julio’ from its inclusion on Simon and Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park album. In fact, I assumed it was an S&G track until I grew up and became acquainted with their catalog. It’s always been a favorite of mine.

I’ve read speculation that “what the mama saw” was some sort of sexual activity between Julio and the male singer. Simon has said that he never really gave it any specific thought, though he agrees the incident was likely something sexually taboo. I never gave it much thought either… I just like the music.

The mama pajama rolled out of bed
And she ran to the police station
When the papa found out he began to shout
And he started the investigation

It’s against the law
It was against the law
What mama saw
It was against the law

The mama looked down and spit on the ground
Every time my name gets mentioned
The papa said oy if I get that boy
I’m gonna put him in the house of detention

Well I’m on my way
I don’t know where I’m going
I’m on my way I’m taking my time
But I don’t know where
Goodbye to Rosie the queen of Corona
See you, me and Julio
Down by the schoolyard
See you, me and Julio
Down by the schoolyard
Me and Julio down by the schoolyard

In a couple of days they come and
Take me away
But the press let the story leak
And when the radical priest
Come to get me released
We was all on the cover of Newsweek

And I’m on my way
I don’t know where I’m going
I’m on my way I’m taking my time
But I don’t know where
Goodbye to Rosie the queen of Corona
See you, me and Julio
Down by the schoolyard
See you, me and Julio
Down by the schoolyard
See you, me and Julio
Down by the schoolyard

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #624: ‘Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard’ – Paul Simon

  1. Dana says:

    I never thought about the meaning of the lyrics either–quite the provocative interpretation though if true.

    It’s hard for me to hear this song and not think back to my college days when Mark and I would play this song, among so many others. It’s as fun a song to play as it is to hear.

  2. Kerrie says:

    I’ve always enjoyed this song. It’s so catchy that it just stays with you for days. I never thought about the meaning of the lyrics (this is the first time I’ve ever looked at them written out to even consider analyzing them) but the idea does make the song a bit more provocative than I had given it credit for…

    Looking forward to the rest of your theme. 🙂

  3. pegclifton says:

    Great song and I look forward to the upcoming weeks because he’s one of my favorites.

  4. Amy says:

    I’m with Dana on this one. I always loved the song, but never more than when he and Mark played it. Whatever “taboo” has been viewed, the spirit of the song makes clear is taboo only because of the small-mindedness of the “mama” and the “papa” who started the investigation. The “radical’ priest and the press likely recognize that more was made of the incident than should have been, which is why the singer makes the front page of Newsweek.

    Meanwhile, the line I’ve always found most nonsensical is also the line I love to listen to (and sing, albeit badly) the most – “Goodbye to Rosy, the Queen of Corona” – that’s sheer musical genius to come up with those words to that music! I love Paul Simon!

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