Song of the Day #1,206: ‘Duncan’ – Paul Simon

Paul Simon’s self-titled album isn’t exactly packed with hits or songs well-known to the casual fan. Its one classic Simon track is ‘Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard‘ (though that song is so great that, really, what else do you need?).

The rest of the album contains songs that I know only casually — the jazzy ‘Hobo’s Blues,’ the soft-as-a-whisper ‘Everything Put Together Falls Apart’ and the bluesy ‘Congratulations,’ which hinted at Simon’s looming divorce from first wife Peggy.

Yesterday’s track, ‘Mother and Child Reunion,’ had the most success on the charts (it actually outperformed ‘Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard,’ though the latter has since eclipsed it in popularity).

The album’s only other single was an unlikely one. ‘Duncan’ is a story song not unlike something you’d find on a Bob Dylan album. It tells the story of a fisherman’s son who has an epiphany in the arms of a preacher’s daughter. The song ends with the man playing his guitar underneath the stars, thanking the lord for his fingers.

Couple in the next room
Bound to win a prize
They’ve been going at it all night long
Well, I’m trying to get some sleep
But these motel walls are cheap
Lincoln Duncan is my name
And here’s my song, here’s my song.

My father was a fisherman
My mama was the fisherman’s friend
And I was born in the boredom
And the chowder
So when I reached my prime
I left my home in the Maritimes
Headed down the turnpike for
New England, sweet New England

Holes In my confidence
Holes In the knees of my jeans
I was left without a penny in my pocket
Oo-we I was about destituted
As a kid could be
And I wished I wore a ring
So I could hock it, I’d like to hock it.

A young girl in a parking lot
Was preaching to a crowd
Singing sacred songs and reading
From the Bible
Well, I told her I was lost
And she told me all about the Pentecost
And I seen that girl as the road
To my survival

Just later on the very same night
When I crept to her tent with a flashlight
And my long years of innocence ended
Well, she took me to the woods
Saying here comes something and it feels so good
And just like a dog I was befriended, I was befriended.

Oh, oh, what a night
Oh what a garden of delight
Even now that sweet memory lingers
I was playing my guitar
Lying underneath the stars
Just thanking the Lord
For my fingers,
For my fingers

One thought on “Song of the Day #1,206: ‘Duncan’ – Paul Simon

  1. Dana says:

    When this song first began, I didn’t think I had heard it before, but then when the instrumental break came, I realized I had. Was this instrumental used in another song, or do I just know it from this one?

    I definitely hear the Dylan-esque quality in this song.

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