Song of the Day #627: ‘Late in the Evening’ – Paul Simon

It was five years, in 1980, before Paul Simon released another album. And his amazing run of success came to an abrupt stop when he broke his silence with One Trick Pony, a companion album to a film of the same name (written by and starring Simon himself).

One Trick Pony is the second Paul Simon album I don’t own, but unlike his self-titled solo debut, this one is missing from my collection because I’ve heard it’s just not very good. Not quite a soundtrack but not quite a proper album, it apparently suffers from being not much of anything worthwhile.

I’m taking the word of the critical consensus on this one, because scanning the song titles I realize that I’m not familiar with a single one apart from today’s Song of the Day. They could all be wonderful, for all I know.

Today’s song, ‘Late in the Evening,’ is certainly wonderful. The song recounts formative musical experiences for what I assume is the rock star lead character played by Simon in the film. I’ve always loved the opening verse, in which a toddler hears the sound of music and his mother’s laughter coming in from another room.

I don’t have any memories from that early, but I definitely remember the sounds of adult life that used to find their way into my bedroom after I was put to bed. Sometimes I wonder if my kids experience those things the same way, though the fact that they have no problem clomping their way downstairs to interrupt my wife and I watching Lost tells me they don’t see the same invisible generational boundaries I did.

Writing these past few Song of the Day entries, I’m realizing how much Paul Simon’s early music is tied to my childhood and specifically how I viewed adult life through the prism of childhood. I don’t know if any other artist affects me in that way. Frank Sinatra, maybe, though his songs struck me even then as being older than my parents. Paul Simon’s music was of and about my parents’ generation.

Funny that eventually I caught up with him and felt he was making music for me. But I’ll get to that next week.

The first thing I remember
I was lying in my bed
I couldn’t have been no more
Than one or two
I remember there’s a radio
Comin’ from the room next door
And my mother laughed
The way some ladies do
When it’s late in the evening
And the music’s seeping through

The next thing I remember
I am walking down the street
I’m feeling all right
I’m with my boys
I’m with my troops, yeah
And down along the avenue
Some guys were shootin’ pool
And I heard the sound of a cappella groups, yeah
Singing late in the evening
And all the girls out on the stoops, yeah

Then I learned to play some lead guitar
I was underage in this funky bar
And I stepped outside to smoke myself a “J”
And when I came back to the room
Everybody just seemed to move
And I turned my amp up loud and began to play
And it was late in the evening
And I blew that room away

The first thing I remember
When you came into my life
I said I’m gonna get that girl
No matter what I do
Well I guess I’d been in love before
And once or twice been on the floor
But I never loved no one
The way I loved you
And it was late in the evening
And all the music seeping through

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #627: ‘Late in the Evening’ – Paul Simon

  1. Amy says:

    I remember seeing a few minutes of this movie on television a couple of decades ago. At the time I wondered what Paul Simon was doing in an after-school special. Now I’m curious to rent it and see it for the train wreck/masterpiece it is.

    As I mentioned in my comment yesterday, I, too, associated Simon’s music with the “adult” world, which is why the release of Graceland, while I was in college – an album I bought on my own and a concert I chose to attend – likely is a transitional moment in my own passage to adulthood. But more on that next week 😉

    Love this song, though it isn’t in the same league as some of Simon’s best work. It’s still just fun.

  2. Dana says:

    Okay, first of all, I know we are supposed to ignore the videios accompanying the SOTDs, but…”Learn How to” Really, Clay? Really! Interesting power point tips there…with the highlight (for us men anyway) coming at the 2:27 mark. Really!:)

    Anyway, back to the song…I’ve always been fond of this one, particularly the horn sections. I’m surprised that, after attempting this movie with such poor critical reaction, Simon would ever again venture into film or shows, but, as we know, he later tried again with “The Capeman,” which also was critically panned. As with “One Trick Pony,” however, the “Capeman” album contained some good songs (and some memorable lines not to be repeated in mixed company:))

  3. Clay says:

    Oh boy… I hadn’t even looked at that video! I’ll seek out an alternate clip to protect less innocent eyes. 🙂

  4. Clay says:

    Well, looks like this is the only clip that contains the album version of the song. So I guess I’ll just have to promote the getting of chicks along with Paul Simon.

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