Song of the Day #4,288: ‘Song About the Moon’ – Paul Simon

Paul Simon hit a creative rough patch following the release of 1977’s Still Crazy After All These Years. His only new studio album over the following eight years was 1980’s One Trick Pony, a companion to his film of the same name, which contained exactly one memorable song: ‘Late in the Evening.’

But 1981 saw a resurgence for Simon in the form of his reunion Concert in Central Park with Art Garfunkel. Following that successful rekindling of their partnership, the two former bandmates started recording a new album.

However, Garfunkel ultimately dropped out of the project, leaving Simon to rework it into a solo release. The resulting album was 1983’s Hearts and Bones, my #4 album of 1983.

Preceding Simon’s masterpiece Graceland by three years, Hearts and Bones introduced some of the world music sounds that would make that album so special. It also featured some of Simon’s most personal songwriting to date.

That is especially true on three songs I count among Simon’s best: ‘Train in the Distance,’ ‘Think Too Much (b),’ and ‘Hearts and Bones.’ The title track, in particular, which chronicles Simon’s failed romance with Carrie Fisher, is one of the loveliest songs I’ve ever heard.

The rest of Hearts and Bones is quite good as well. Epic closing track ‘The Late Great Johnny Ace’ draws a line between the death of a 50s R&B singer, John F. Kennedy, and John Lennon. Fun songs like ‘When Numbers Get Serious’ sit nicely alongside more somber efforts like ‘Rene And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War.’

The less said about ‘Cars Are Cars’ the better, but I won’t hold that song against an otherwise superlative album.

If you want to write a song about the moon
Walk along the craters of the afternoon
When the shadows are deep
And the light is alien
And gravity leaps like a knife off the pavement
And you want to write a song about the moon
You want to write a spiritual tune
Then nah nah nah yeah
Presto
A song about the moon

If you want to write a song about the heart
Think about the moon before you start
Because the heart will howl
Like a dog in the moonlight
And the heart can explode
Like a pistol on a June night
So if you want to write a song about the heart
And its ever-longing for a counterpart
Then nah nah nah nah yea yeah yeah
Write a song about the moon

The laughing boy
He laughed so hard
He fell down from his place
The laughing girl
She laughed so hard
The tears rolled down her face

Hey Songwriter
If you want to write a song about a face
Think about a photograph
That you really can’t remember
But you can’t erase
Wash your hands in dreams and lightning
Cut off your hair
And whatever is frightening
If you want to write a song about a face
If you want to write a song about the human race
Then nah nah nah nah yeah yeah
Write a song about the moon

If you want to write a song about the moon
You want to write a spiritual tune
Nah nah nah nah nah nah yeah yeah yeah
THEN DO IT
Write a song about the moon

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,288: ‘Song About the Moon’ – Paul Simon

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I agree. This is one of Simon’s best albums after Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints. However, while nothing can save “Cars are Cars” from being one of Simon’s worst songs, I personally find “Song About the Moon” to be a weaker track as well. I’m also not quite as high on “Think too Much(b)” as you are, but that’s probably because it gets sullied in my mind with the lesser “Think too Much(a).”

    Meanwhile, “Train in the Distance and “Hearts and Bones?” Man, it doesn’t get much better than that!

  2. Amy says:

    I love the best songs on this album but have never listened to the album, itself, all the way through. Other tracks will pop up when I shuffle my iTunes collection, but I can’t recall ever opting to play this album in its entirety. Hmmm….

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