Thursday, February 07, 2008

Paul Simon and Allen Ginsberg

I love Paul Simon's writing. While a unquestionably talented guitar player, his true strength as a songsmith lies in his writing. He's still cranking out the tunes, and melding his folky, contemplative writing and playing with contemporary luminaries such as Brian Eno. I recently started listening to "The Rhythm of the Saints" the sequel to his every-possible-away-winning album "Graceland." While not as much a critical darling as Graceland, Rhythm showcases some of the most profound lyrics Simon has written.

For your consideration, the lyrics to the climatic song "Cool, Cool River." The song always reminds me of Ginsberg's epic beat poem "Howl."

"Cool, Cool River" by Paul Simon
"Moves like a fist through the traffic
Anger and no one can heal it
Shoves a little bump into the momentum
Its just a little lump
But you feel it
In the creases and the shadows
With a rattling deep emotion
The cool, cool river
Sweeps the wild, white ocean

Yes boss. the government handshake
Yes boss. the crusher of language
Yes boss. mr. stillwater,
The face at the edge of the banquet
The cool, the cool river
The cool, the cool river

I believe in the future
I may live in my car
My radio tuned to
The voice of a star
Song dogs barking at the break of dawn
Lightning pushes the edge of a thunderstorm
And these old hopes and fears
Still at my side

Anger and no one can heal it
Slides through the metal detector
Lives like a mole in a motel
A slide in a slide projector
The cool, cool river
Sweeps the wild, white ocean
The rage of love turns inward
To prayers of devotion
And these prayers are
The constant road across the wilderness
These prayers are
These prayers are the memory of god
The memory of god

And I believe in the future
We shall suffer no more
Maybe not in my lifetime
But in yours I feel sure
Song dogs barking at the break of dawn
Lightning pushes the edges of a thunderstorm
And these streets
Quiet as a sleeping army
Send their battered dreams to heaven, to heaven
For the mothers restless son
Who is a witness to, who is a warrior
Who denies his urge to break and run

Who says: hard times?
Im used to them
The speeding planet burns
Im used to that
My lifes so common it disappears
And sometimes even music
Cannot substitute for tears"

Sample of "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg
"
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix;Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night."

1 comment:

Alec said...

And he still doesn't know where it came from

The Sound Of Silence

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
'Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of
a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one deared
Disturb the sound of silence.

"Fools" said I,"You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you."
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming.
And the signs said, The words of the prophets
are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls.
And whisper'd in the sounds of silence.