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Paul Simon - Graceland & You Can Call Me Al

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Published on Aug 7, 2013

Hard Rock Calling 2012 (Hyde Park, London)

"Graceland" is the title song of the album Graceland, released in 1986 by Paul Simon. The lyrics deal with the singer's thoughts during a road trip to Graceland after the failure of his marriage to actress and author Carrie Fisher. The song won the 1988 Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

"You Can Call Me Al" is also a song by Paul Simon, the first single released from his album Graceland. The lyrics can be interpreted as describing a man experiencing a midlife crisis ("Where's my wife and family? What if I die here? Who'll be my role model?"). However, as Paul Simon himself explained during the Graceland episode of the Classic Albums documentary series, by the third verse the lyrics move from a generic portrait-like perspective to a personal and autobiographical one, as he describes his journey to South Africa which inspired the entire album. The names in the song came from an incident at a party that Simon went to with his then-wife Peggy Harper. French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, who was attending the same party, mistakenly referred to Paul as "Al" and to Peggy as "Betty", inspiring Simon to write a song.


Lyrics (Graceland):

The Mississippi Delta
Was shining like a National guitar
I am following the river
Down the highway
Through the cradle of the Civil War

I'm going to Graceland
Graceland
In Memphis,Tennessee
I'm going to Graceland
Poorboys and pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland
My traveling companion is nine years old
He is the child of my first marriage
But I've reason to believe
We both will be received
In Graceland

She comes back to tell me she's gone
As if I didn't know that
As if I didn't know my own bed
As if I'd never notice
The way she brushed her hair from
Her forehead and she said, "Losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody feels the wind blow"

I'm going to Graceland
Memphis, Tennessee
I'm going to Graceland
Poorboys and pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland
And my traveling companions
Are ghosts and empty sockets
I'm looking at ghosts and empties
But I've reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

There is a girl in New York City
Who calls herself the human trampoline
And sometimes when I'm falling, flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
Whoa, so this is what she means
She means we're bouncing into Graceland
And I see losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody feels the wind blow

In Graceland, in Graceland
I'm going to Graceland
For reasons I cannot explain
There's some part of me wants to see Graceland
And I may be obliged to defend
Every love, every ending
Or maybe there's no obligations now
Maybe I've a reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

Whoa, in Graceland, in Graceland
In Graceland,
I'm going to Graceland


Lyrics (You Can Call Me Al):

A man walks down the street
He says, "Why am I soft in the middle now?
Why am I soft in the middle?
The rest of my life is so hard
I need a photo opportunity
I want a shot at redemption
Don't want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard"
Bonedigger, bonedigger
Dogs in the moonlight
Far away my well-lit door
Mr. Beerbelly, Beerbelly
Get these mutts away from me
You know I don't find this stuff
Amusing anymore

If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long-lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me
You can call me Al

A man walks down the street
He says, "Why am I short of attention?
Got a short little span of attention
And, woe my nights are so long
Where's my wife and family?
What if I die here?
Who'll be my role model
Now that my role model is
Gone gone?"
He ducked back down the alley
With some roly-poly little bat-faced girl
All along along
There were incidents and accidents
There were hints and allegations

If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long-lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me
You can call me Al
Call me Al

A man walks down the street
It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the third world
Maybe it's his first time around
He doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound, the sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says, "Amen!" and "Hallelujah!"

Call me Al

Na na na na...

If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long-lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me
You can call me Al
Call me Al

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