Mother And Child Reunion

“Well, of course, everyone knows that’s from a dish I had in a Chinese restaurant, chicken and eggs [the title was on the menu – Ed].”Paul Simon (331)
“Last summer we had a dog that was run over and killed, and we loved this dog. It was the first death I had ever experienced personally. Nobody in my family died that I felt that. But I felt this loss – one minute there, the next minute gone, and then my first thought was, “Oh, man, what if that was Peggy? What if somebody like that died? Death, what is it, I can’t get it.” And there were lyrics straight out forward like that. “I can’t for the life of me remember a sadder day. I just can’t believe it’s so.” Those are the lyrics. The chorus – well, that’s out of the title. Somehow there was a connection between this death and Peggy and it was like Heaven, I don’t know what the connection was. Some emotional connection. It didn’t matter to me what it was. I just knew it was there.”Paul Simon (546)

Train In The Distance

“The title of the song and the line that keeps recurring is a metaphor. And although I liked the metaphor and I thought it was effective, by the time I got to the end of the song I said, well, look, I don’t know if anyone will understand what I’m talking about here. So, in case you didn’t get what this metaphor is about, let me just say this is what it is: everybody thinks things could be better.”Paul Simon (332)

Armistice Day

“Well, “Armistice Day” is an old song, written in 1968 – the first part of it was. That song mainly meant, let’s have a truce. I chose the title because it’s not even called Armistice Day anymore, it’s called Veteran’s Day. Armistice Day is like an old name, and I didn’t really mean it to be specifically about the war. I just meant that I’m worn out from all this fighting, from all the abuse that people are giving each other and creating for each other.”Paul Simon (546)

Obvious Child

“It’s about a variation of me and my generation: ‘I’m accustomed to a smoother ride/Maybe I’m a dog that’s lost his bark/I don’t expect to be treated like a fool no more.’ Maybe life’s been soft, maybe I’m not quite… whatever, but I’m not an idiot — so don’t bullshit me. On the other hand, ‘I don’t expect to sleep through the night.’ That’s a fact. I wake up in the middle of the night every night. My sleep pattern seems to have an interruption built into it.”Paul Simon (834)

Can’t Run But

“The first verse is about Chernobyl. The second verse is about men and women, the third verse is a sort of surrealistic combination of the Amazon and corporate influence on music, MTV and groups packaged for visual appeal as opposed to their ability to play and compose.”Paul Simon (834)

The Coast

“[Dedicated to Derek Walcott a poet from St Lucia in the West Indies. Did he influence this particular song? – Ed] The entire album was influenced by him really, his sense of place and geography, his use of imagery. I used to read his poetry a lot when I was first constructing the tracks. I often used his words to sing against the tracks when I didn’t have any words. ‘The Coast’ is really just a little prayer, an invocation. For a long time it was the opening of the album with the constant repeated chants and fragments of prayers. The repetition you hear in prayers… ‘If I have money… If I have children…’ The line, ‘If I have weaknesses don’t let them blind me’ is also repeated in the last song on the album. It’s about musicians from different cultures and different countries playing together on the same album creating a piece of music that has a unique quality. This is something that exists within the family of musicians, they can speak a language that can’t be spoken by the tongue.”Paul Simon (834)

Further To Fly

“It’s about resilience and the strength to go on in the face of adversity.”Paul Simon (834)

She Moves On

“It’s about men’s fear of women’s anger, being afraid that the woman is really mad at you and that something could happen. There’s a threat.”Paul Simon (834)

The Cool, Cool River

“It’s in an unusual time signature, 9/8. It’s a West African fighting rhythm. If the LP has a location in my mind it’s in the southern hemisphere but this is the only song that’s in a specifically urban setting, it’s about violence. And I was thinking about prayers, what they are. It seems to me that the ancient prayers we repeat in Christianity and Judaism and Moslem religions come from long ago when our relationship to God was much more direct, God was a relevant factor, a physical presence in everyday life. I wouldn’t describe myself as a religious person but I would describe myself as curious.”Paul Simon (834)

Spirit Voices

“It’s about a trip I took along the Amazon and a visit to the bruho, very roughly a witch doctor. I went out of curiosity. He made up a brew called iawasco which is supposed to be hallucinogenic, you’re supposed to see the snake of the Amazon, the anaconda, but it didn’t happen. It had an effect but it wasn’t hallucinogenic, it put your mind in a spacey category. He had many patients there in a little shack in the jungle, people came with their illnesses and he mixed up potions and herbs. We sat there for hours, it wasn’t a ceremony, it was just normal office hours, the doctor’s surgery.”Paul Simon (834)

You Can Call Me Al

“‘Don’t want to end up a cartoon/In a cartoon graveyard’ – that was me. I was writing about myself. I guess I was saying, like any artist, I don’t want to be an irrelevancy, I hope I’m not irrelevant. ’A man walks down the street/It’s a street in a strange world’ – maybe it’s the third world. This is pretty obvious that I’m talking about Africa. ’He looks around, around/He sees angels in the architecture’ – it’s become a spiritual journey now, a spiritual adventure, that’s what that song is about and that was a pretty accurate description of my journey.”Paul Simon (1147)