Song of the Day #3,164: ‘Spirit Voices’ – Paul Simon

rhythm_of_the_saintsAs I wrote at the beginning of the week, I had a hard time coming up with five 1990 albums for this list. But I had no problem coming up with my #1, Paul Simon’s The Rhythm of the Saints.

Following up the all-time classic Graceland four years later was no easy task, but Simon delivered, creating an album that similarly married world music with his plaintive melodies.

The Rhythm of the Saints didn’t produce any major hits and it sold half as many copies as Graceland but it is a gorgeous record, both lyrically and musically. Opening track ‘The Obvious Child’ is one of Simon’s best tunes (and that’s saying something). I remember playing it on repeat my freshman year of college and thinking I’d be fine if it were the only song I could ever hear.

That song and this album have faded a bit for me over the years, the way all things do, but The Rhythm of the Saints remains a triumph.

We sailed up a river wide as a sea
And slept on the banks
On the leaves of a banyan tree
And all of these spirit voices rule the nightSome stories are magical, meant to be sung
Songs from the mouth of the river
When the world was young
And all of these spirit voices rule the night

By moon
We walk
To the brujo’s door
Along a path of river stones
Women with their nursing children
Seated on the floor
We join the fevers
And the broken bones

The candlelight flickers
The falcon calls
A lime-green lizard scuttles down the cabin wall
And all of these spirit voices
Sing rainwater, seawater
River water, holy water
Wrap this child in mercy – heal her
Heaven’s only daughter
All of these spirit voices rule the night

My hands were numb
And my feet were lead
I drank a cup of herbal brew
Then the sweetness in the air
Combined with the lightness in my head
And I heard the jungle breathing in the bamboo

Saudocões (Greetings!)
Da licenca um momento (Excuse me, one moment)
Te lembró (I remind you)
Que amanhã (That tomorrow)
Será tudo ou será naoa (It will be all or it will be nothing)
Depende coração (It depends, heart)
Será breve ou será grande (It will be brief or it will be great)
Depende da paixão (It depends on the passion)
Será sujo, será sonho (It will be dirty, it will be a dream)
Cuidado, coração (Be careful, heart)
Será util, será tarde (It will be useful, it will be late)
Se esmera, coração (Do your best, heart)
E confia (And have trust)
Na força do amanhã (In the power of tomorrow)

Lord of the earthquake
My trembling bed
The spider resumes the rhythm

Of his golden tread

And all of these spirit voices rule the night
And all of these spirit voices rule the night
And all of these spirit voices rule the night

 

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One thought on “Song of the Day #3,164: ‘Spirit Voices’ – Paul Simon

  1. Dana says:

    As we have often lamented, Simon has never put out an album as great as Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints, but what a treasure trove of wonderful music is contained in them.

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