Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard - Paul Simon Cover

Paul Simon's music is incredible. Incredible. Incredible. From his gorgeous earlier work to the rhythmic adventures of his later solo work Simon has such an original way of crafting songs and lyrics and he is a never ending source of inspiration. I've been playing this song at the end of my live set quite a bit lately and it always goes over really well. It goes well when I play it with a band. It goes well when I play it solo just with a guitar. The best songs are often like this I find. 

Like most Paul Simon songs the lyrics are really outrageous. Not only in content but just in the wording he uses and the way he puzzle pieces phrases together. You don't hear words like, 'Radical Priest' or phrases like 'Oy I'm gonna get that boy' in anybody else's songs so it takes a considerably longer time to memorize his lyrics I've found. I planned on playing this song live months and months ago but had to pull it from the set last minute (a handful of times) because I knew I'd make a big shit of the lyrics and I don't want to do that to a Paul Simon song!!! No sir.

Listening to interviews and reading articles about him it's so interesting to hear how long he slaves over song lyrics, sometimes editing a song for months before wrestling it to completion. The more I write songs the more I find myself doing the same with mine. There are a million reasons why I think people may "settle" on certain lyrics. Sometimes they feel good phonetically. Sometimes you throw together a verse so you can try the song live only to keep it that way after getting a good reception. Whatever the reason may be to let a tired lyric through a song's edit period Paul Simon's songs show what can come of working songs hard. Nothing pulls a great melody down like tired lyrics and on the flip side a great lyric can make an average song worthwhile. This is definitely something I want to be aware of when I write songs and although I try my best shit does inevitably happen. Vampire Weekend (obviously heavily Paul Simon influenced) are a good example of a new band that has a freshness to their lyrics. Using words and phrases that we don't hear ever. 

There are so many songs of his I would love to cover and maybe I will over time but this one seemed like an easy starting point as I'd been playing it live. I would have to say my favourite Paul Simon song at the moment is 'Obvious Child' and I didn't even know it existed until this year. If you haven't heard it….your welcome. 

RECORDING
Recording this song was a lot of fun and I tracked it all pretty quickly. The percussive knee slaps weren't originally going to be in the track but I just started doing those 'rolls' on my knees leading up to each vocal take (I did the vocals sitting down) and I thought they sounded really cool so I took them, cut them up for certain sections, compressed them and then added t a bunch of echo to give it that Phil Spector vibe. The heavy breathing isn't in the song by choice but got on the recording on the same track as the knee slaps. Sorry about that! I recorded the bass on an old Epiphone Viola Bass that I bought about 7 years ago. I purchased it in the hopes of getting some McCartney character out of it (as you do) but I'd never used it for recording before because it's a bit of a cheaper model. Although I wouldn't use it live, the 'thud' sound that it gives off can be used really well on recordings so I plan on taking advantage of that in the future. Finally, this is the first tune I've gotten to use a new compressor that I bought recently. It's not an expensive piece of gear but Dave Fridmann (Tame Impala, The Vaccines, Flaming Lips) has a few and has said he's used it so that's good enough for me! 

Thanks for listening! 

I've got lots of new tunes I'm working on and just trying to find cool ways to get them out there so stay tuned. 

Mattie 

1 comment

  • Minni

    Minni London

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