I’m afraid I was a bit harsh in my description of Paul Simon’s Songs From The Capeman yesterday. While it was certainly a letdown following a seven year wait after his two best albums, and it’s something of a half-baked affair, it isn’t without special moments.
If I hadn’t already posted the wonderfully profane centerpiece track, ‘The Vampires,’ I wouldn’t be able to resist highlighting it on Christmas morning. That song alone is worth the price of the Capeman album.
The seven years between The Rhythm of the Saints and Paul Simon’s next studio album felt like an eternity. Following the one-two punch of Graceland and Rhythm, I was primed for whatever he would come up with next and had to just wait and wait and wait.
In the days before the ubiquity of the Internet — before Twitter and official artist websites — it was hard to know what a musician was up to. It turns out that Simon spent much of that seven-year span researching and writing a Broadway musical called The Capeman about a Puerto Rican gang-banger in New York who turned his life around in prison.
The Rhythm of the Saints marked the end of Paul Simon’s incredible comeback. After his first few solo albums were lavished with praise and hit singles, he hit a slump that several years, only to reinvent himself with his two finest albums. So then what?
A seven year wait, that’s what. I used to whine on a regular basis during that time about how long it had been since Simon had released his last album. Where was the next Saints or Graceland? What was the man doing with his time? Marrying Edie Brickell and having three kids, as it turns out, which must not have left much time for music.