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My most recent single release - "My True North" - is now available on Bandcamp. Open my profile and click on "audio clip".

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Words For The Ages, Line Fourteen

"The only truth I know is you."

If the rock n' roll era has produced a more consistently excellent lyricist than Paul Simon, that person remains unknown to me. Dylan is more prolific and arguably, more influential. Joni Mitchell can be more fearless and Elvis Costello can be more trenchant. But for my money, much as I often admire the lyrics of those three giants - and others - Paul Simon sets the bar that much higher.

One could reasonably ask why it then took me over three years to settle on a phrase from Simon's oeuvre to enshrine as words for the ages. And, why not a phrase from one of his iconic songs instead of this jewel from the more obscure Kathy's Song? Short answer? Because I spend too much time thinking about stuff like this. Beginning in May 2017, each of my fourteen selections for words for the ages has aimed for -

* A lyrical phrase that can stand alone. If surrounding or nearby rhymes are needed to prop up or complete a phrase, and especially if those rhymes make that phrase too long, I reject it.

* A universal truth. I daresay anyone reading the words opening this post who has ever loved another person would agree these are words for the ages.

* A phrase I believe most people will have no trouble remembering, both because of its brevity and its use of simple language.

All that aside, the purpose of this series from the outset has been to hear which lyrics you'd select as words for the ages. Today, tell me which terse Paul Simon phrase strikes you that way. Meanwhile, I've got a few dozen other lyricists to occupy my addled brain until next time.           


  1. "Let us be lovers, we'll marry our fortunes together." - America

  2. I’ve commented before how infectious your passion for music is in person. It loses nothing in your writing.

    Aside from the always popular “Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike” and the cheer that goes up when he would perform it in NJ or surrounding States, I’ve always enjoyed hearing Simon and Garfunkel sing “On A Freshly Fallen Silent Shroud of Snow”. So descriptive. So quiet. So calming. And I’ve always been a fan of alliteration.

    I remember my father used to say what a great vocalist Paul Simon was. Art Garfunkel has a wonderful voice - no argument - but Paul Simon played guitar, wrote the songs and sang - sometimes adding beautiful harmonies. There are and will always continue to be great lyricists but I have to agree and acknowledge the wonderful work of Mr. Simon.

    1. Anonymous; Thanks for the comment. I too like that alliterative Paul Simon phrase from "I Am A Rock", referenced in your comment.

  3. I love the way you define a words for the ages selection. Makes perfect sense! Now let’s try BeyoncĂ©?

    1. Alison; Thanks for positive feedback. Need your help with a Beyonce selection because I'm not as intimately familiar with her lyrics as I am with songwriters from my own generation - my shortcoming and probably why I have so few people your age ever responding to my blog, unless they're related to me! So, which Beyonce phrase would you pick as words for the ages?