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Katherine is the Managing Editor at The Hudsucker. She has been working in libraries for the past 10 years and holds a B.A. in American Studies & Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. In her free time, the Seattleite enjoys writing fiction, going to brunch, taking long walks with her roommate, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends. Katherine is a huge fan of the Seattle Mariners and has probably seen every Marvel movie at least five times. She loves classic rock and can quote even the most obscure lines from The Simpsons. Follow Katherine on Twitter: @thethingiskat.

You Can Call Me Al: Paul Simon’s Accidental Impact on My Life in 6 Songs

Image Credit: David Conger

On Friday May 18 at the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington, the legendary Paul Simon performed in concert for probably the last time on his Homeward Bound – The Farewell Tour.

I had seen him twice before with my mother in 2003 when he reunited with Art Garfunkel for the Old Friends tour, and again in 2011 for his intimate concert at the Showbox Market in support of his album, So Beautiful or So What.  And I was surprisingly emotional at his show on Friday, not realizing until afterwards how much of an impact his music has had on me throughout my life.

Both as a solo artist and as a member of Simon & Garfunkel, Simon’s music had an influence on my life before I was even born. My mom listened to his album Graceland while pregnant with me, and coupled with all the oldies music I grew up listening to and loving, it was only natural that his music would have some sort of importance to me throughout the years.

Now, at age 30, after his concert on Friday, I think I’m finally beginning to understand just how much of an impact his music has had on my life. Though I love all of his music, these six songs for whatever reason seem to have made the biggest impact on my life thus far, and I am lucky enough to have seen all of these performed in concert at least once, including last Friday in Seattle.

America

Without a doubt, “America” is an iconic and favorite Simon & Garfunkel song among so many, including myself. Their harmonies are beautiful and haunting, and though Simon plays this song solo often, it needs the balance of Garfunkel to achieve its full impact. The lyrics are absolutely beautiful, and the older I get, the more I can relate to certain sentiments in it. Something about the line, “I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why,” cuts me to my core in the best way.

The Boy in the Bubble

While Graceland is in my bones, “The Boy in the Bubble” definitely made the biggest impact on me. The first time I really listened to what the lyrics had to say was in my freshman year of high school, and I was immediately inspired to write. One of my favorite short stories I’ve ever written was inspired partly by the song, and even now when I hear it I feel a similar creative energy.

Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

“Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” is just a good song, and it’s fantastically catchy. I’ve loved it ever since I heard it as a child. But it became extra special to me when it was featured in my favorite movie, The Royal Tenenbaums. The movie and its soundtrack changed my life, and this song is a big part of that.

Mother and Child Reunion

“Mother and Child Reunion” makes me think of my mom for so many reasons. My brother, mom, and I often refer to times we get together as “mother and child reunions.” This song, though, took on special meaning for me after my mom’s hospitalization last winter. When Simon played this song in concert on Friday, the tears immediately started flowing. It meant so much to be at the show with my mom hearing this song considering what it means to us and what she’d been through. “The course of a lifetime runs over and over again,” indeed. Even typing that lyric makes me emotional. For all the “strange and mournful” days in life, I need this song, and it will always mean the world to me.

Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War

“Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War” is a beautiful song and has always been one of my favorite Simon solo songs. But I didn’t realize how much it meant to me until I heard his arrangement of it at his Seattle concert. I had never expected to hear the song played live, and then hearing it played stripped down with orchestral instruments brought me to tears. Though I teared up a few times at the concert on Friday, this took me by surprise by how much it got to me.

You Can Call Me Al

Again, “You Can Call Me Al” is just a good, catchy song. But it holds a special memory for me as two of my best friends accidentally walked down the aisle at their wedding to this song. They intended to walk down the aisle without music, but elsewhere at the venue this song was playing just loud enough to be heard by the wedding guests. Every time I hear this song, it reminds me of the love of two of my best friends.

What’s your favorite Paul Simon song? What artist or song has made an impact on your life? Let us know in the comments!

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2 Comments on “You Can Call Me Al: Paul Simon’s Accidental Impact on My Life in 6 Songs”

  1. hanspostcard May 24, 2018 at 2:29 pm #

    All those are great songs. Just finished the new biography on him excellent. His songs are timeless- a few that stick with me- Bridge Over Troubled Water, American Tune, Hearts and Bones. The Late Great Johnny Ace, Graceland.. so many great and important songs he has authored.

  2. Elizabeth Rosalyn 🌹 (@ElizabethThe) May 24, 2018 at 7:07 pm #

    “Homeward Bound” is the Paul Simon song that has had the most impact on me. I remember hearing it for the first time on my favourite show, American Dreams, and feeling so moved by the melody and lyrics of Simon & Garfunkel. At the time, I was in the transition phase between graduating from high school and getting through my first year at university, so it was a period of change and new beginnings, which was both exciting and terrifying. Knowing I could still come home to my Mom after a long day of lectures or call a good friend and vent/rave about college life gave me comfort throughout this adjustment period. “Homeward Bound” encapsulates all of those feelings of home and the company you keep and how that gets you through the journey of life in the most beautiful way.

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