The belated Father’s Day BBQ is over; many burgers, potato salad and slices of pecan pie with whipped cream were consumed. And now that the garbage and recycling is out on the curb I can once again fall back into my EZ-Boy recliner and resume sweet, sweet nothingness with this ‘Still Crazy After All These Years‘ by Paul Simon.
The third new album (released in 1975) of Simon’s post-Simon & Garfunkel career was a musical and lyrical change of pace from his first two, ‘Paul Simon‘ and ‘There Goes Rhymin’ Simon‘.
Where Simon had taken an eclectic approach before, delving into a variety of musical styles and recording all over the world, this album found him working for the most part with a group of jazz-pop New York session players, though he did do a couple of tracks (‘My Little Town‘ and ‘Still Crazy After All These Years‘) with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section that had appeared on ‘Rhymin’ Simon‘ and another (‘Gone at Last‘) returned to the gospel style of earlier songs like ‘Loves Me Like a Rock‘. Of course, ‘My Little Town‘ also marked a return to working with Art Garfunkel, and another Top Ten entry for S&G.
But the overall feel of this album was of a jazzy style subtly augmented with strings and horns. Perhaps more striking, however, was Simon’s lyrical approach. Where ‘Rhymin’ Simon‘ was the work of a confident family man, this album came off as a post-divorce album, its songs reeking of smug self-satisfaction and romantic disillusionment. At their best, such sentiments were undercut by humor and made palatable by musical hooks, as on ‘50 Ways to Leave Your Lover‘, which became the biggest solo hit of Simon’s career. But elsewhere, as on ‘Have a Good Time‘, the singer’s cynicism seemed unearned. Still, as out of sorts as Simon may have been, he was never more in tune with his audience: ‘Still Crazy After All These Years‘ topped the charts, spawned four Top 40 hits, and won Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Vocal Performance.
While it may not be my favorite of my Paul Simon albums, it’s still not bad for some nerdy looking guy sporting a 70’s porn stash standing on a metal balcony.