In recent months, I’ve found myself declaring a couple of times that one song or another was officially among my all-time favorites.
That got me interested, during these pandemic times, in creating a definitive playlist of my favorite songs. This is an exercise fraught with peril and subject to repeated second-guessing, but that’s also what makes it fun.
Narrowing such a list to ten songs proved impossible, so I kept at it until I had close to 30, then pared back to 25, which feels like a good number.
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.
It’s time for the next installment in the Decades series, where I do a deep dive into the same year across the past four decades. I’ve done the 0s, 1s and 2s, and for the next several weeks I’ll tackle the 3s. First out of the gate is 1973.
As always, I will first offer up songs from my favorite 1973 albums and then songs from albums that received commercial and/or critical acclaim but with which I am largely unfamiliar.
‘Night Game’ is an odd and borderline silly song from the otherwise great 1975 Paul Simon album Still Crazy After All These Years.
This track recounts a baseball game during which the pitcher drops dead at a pivotal moment. I guess it’s about the triviality of things like sports in the face of mortality, probably as a metaphor for a lot of other things. But the seriousness of the delivery and the dirgelike music just make it kind of funny.
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.