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.
Paul Simon’s ‘Loves Me Like a Rock’ is the perfect finish to his wonderful second solo album, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. It’s hard not to smile listening to this.
But this song is also an important milestone in Simon’s storied career. Six years after the first Simon & Garfunkel record (and 40 years ago), this track represents the first real departure from what has been his signature acoustic sound.
If you put a gun to my head and asked me to name the best song on Paul Simon’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, I would first wonder why somebody would do something quite so perverse. Then I’d pick ‘American Tune.’
But coming in a very close second would be ‘Something So Right,’ one of those songs that feels like it must have been written in the 40s by Cole Porter or some other urbane songwriting genius. It’s another modern standard, a feat Simon has pulled off again and again.
Paul Simon’s self-titled solo album was a bit of an oddity in that it didn’t carry over the style of the songs he wrote for Simon & Garfunkel but neither did it feel like the great material that was still to come.
His next album, released a year later in 1973, feels a lot more like a true Paul Simon record. There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, despite its goofy title, is Simon’s first great solo album.
Paul Simon’s second solo album, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, was released a year after his first and featured some of his most enduring songs.
Album opener ‘Kodachrome,’ for example, is a lively concert staple which opens with the memorable line, “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.” And the album’s final track, ‘Loves Me Like a Rock,’ is a bit of gospel among a bunch of mellow folk-pop.
‘St. Judy’s Comet’ is a gentle lullaby and ‘Something So Right’ is one of Simon’s finest songs, with its achingly perfect melody and bittersweet theme of romantic uncertainty.