Radio 78, side A, track 2: “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon

You can Call Me Al - Paul SimonOh, Paul Simon, I don’t know exactly when it was that I first heard this song, but it had a huge impression on me.  Not because of its ruminations on middle age and South Africa, but because the music video featured Chevy Chase.  I was a big fan of Chevy Chase, largely due to renting movies like “Funny Farm” and “Spies Like Us”, so I was pretty excited to see him in this music video just because it’s always nice to see some Chevy Chase.  What blew my mind was that he was in the video at all.  To this day, I’m a man of compartments.  This goes here and that goes there.  And it was even more so as a kid.  Actors were actors and musicians were musicians and never the twain should they meet.  So to have an actor pretending he was singing someone else’s song was kind of incomprehensible to me.  And I had no idea who you were, Paul Simon.  This music video was the first time I’d ever seen you and probably the first time I’d ever heard your music.  My impression was that you were a cute little Droopy Dog-lookin’ guy who was kind of silly and liked making silly songs.  And you must be pretty cool if Chevy Chase was hanging out with you.

Listening to it again after so many years, I can obviously relate to it more than I could as an 11-year-old farmboy, particularly asking oneself questions about being soft in the middle.  It’s also exciting to realize that this is where I first heard some Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who I would grow to love in my later years.  I now understand that you’re more than just a little guy who pals around with Chevy Chase, Paul Simon, but I’ll be honest, I would have been just fine with that, too.

lyrics to “You Can Call Me Al”

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