Song of the Day #3,742: ‘Can’t Run But’ – Paul Simon

Paul Simon sits at or near the top of my list of the greatest musical artists of all time. In fact, I named him as my #1 songwriter on this very blog.

But I must express disappointment with Simon’s last two releases. 2016’s Stranger to Stranger was the most forgettable release of his career. And the just-out In the Blue Light — featuring reimaginings of ten earlier songs — is another let-down.

These albums come on the heels of 2011’s So Beautiful Or So What, which I absolutely loved. His best work since Graceland, or at least Rhythm of the Saints. That album might prove to be his swan song.

In the Blue Light is fine, but it’s a missed opportunity. I’m not against the “revisiting old songs” concept in theory, but I’m not wild about the tracks he chose. Four of the ten are from 2000’s You’re the One, an decent album but not one I need to hear anew. A fifth is from So Beautiful Or So What, which is awfully recent and sounded fine the first time.

The older songs he tackles, such as ‘One Man’s Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor’ and ‘Some Folks Lives Roll Easy,’ are not improved through re-recording. ‘Some Folks,’ in particular, is significantly worse.

Today’s SOTD, ‘Can’t Run But,’ from 1990’s Rhythm of the Saints, is decent, but it mostly makes me want to dial up the original.

Simon recently announced his retirement from touring, playing a farewell concert in New York last month. He will likely still record, though. I hope he has another album in him that’s better than this one.

[Chorus]
I can’t run, but I can walk much faster than this
Can’t run but
I can’t run, but I can walk much faster than this
Can’t run but

[Verse 1]
A cooling system
Burns out in the Ukraine
Trees and umbrellas
Protect us from the new rain
Armies of engineers
To analyze the soil
The food we contemplate
The water that we boil

[Chorus]
I can’t run, but I can walk much faster than this
Can’t run but
I can’t run, but I can walk much faster than this
Cannot run but

[Interlude]
Ooh, we
Ooh, we

[Verse 2]
I had a dream about us
After that long goodnight
I felt a pain in my shoulder blade
It was like a pencil point, a love bite
A couple was rubbing against us
Rubbing and doing that new dance
The man was wearing a jacket and jeans
The woman was laughing in advance

[Chorus]
I can’t run, but I can walk much faster than this
Can’t run but
I can’t run, but I can walk much faster than this
Cannot run but

[Flute and Strings Solo]

[Verse 3]
The legend is a winding river
Winds around the heart
Tighter and tighter
‘Til the muddy waters part
Down by the river bank
A DJ arrives
The sub-base feels like an earthquake
The top end cuts like knives

[Chorus]
I can’t run, but I can walk much faster than this
Can’t run but
I can’t run, but I can walk much faster than this
Can’t run but

[Outro]
Ooh, we
Ooh, we

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,742: ‘Can’t Run But’ – Paul Simon

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I didn’t know Simon had released this album. I’m wondering if the re-recording of some of the songs, particularly the four off You’re the One, are because of some dissatisfaction with the original versions. It’s hard to imagine, though, any dissatisfaction with the original version of today’s song, and I agree with you that this just makes me want to run to hear the original lush recording.

  2. Amy says:

    Daniel has become a huge fan of Simon’s this past year, so I knew about the album from him. He considers “Some Folks Lives…” one of the best songs ever written and was intrigued,but ultimately disappointed, when he learned Simon wanted to try another rendition. The positive thing for Daniel was that the new album did send him back to the good stuff. Since “In the Blue Light” dropped, it’s quite common for me to receive a text in the morning declaring this or that track off Rhythm of the Saints “the best song ever recorded.”

  3. Peg says:

    I like this version but certainly not better then the original. Our favorite song on Rhythm of the Saints is Further to Fly. Hope he never messes with that one

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