Paul Simon’s Graceland was my quintessential road music for about fifteen years. Any substantial road trip would start with that on my car stereo, an increasingly worn-out cassette tape. So the opening horns in Boy in the Bubble sound like the beginning of something delightful to me. I remember it most clearly from long trips from Ohio to South Carolina to visit my parents. Sometimes it had the blue light of pre-dawn to go with it, always the thrill of hitting the gas to get out of town.

The rest of the album is less that way for me, but I can still sing along with almost all of it. It’s borne up really well with bunches of friends from different backgrounds, including one school friend who was surprised to see it in my car and even more surprised, I think, that I wasn’t beat-boxing along with it.

I love the self-deprecating humor in I Know What I Know.

she looked me over and I guess she thought I was all right
all right in a sort of a limited way for an off night

That theme comes back with Myth of Fingerprints, which may be my favorite thing on the album, shifting metaphors of dwindling fame from a talk-show host to an army post out in the Indian Ocean somewhere.

It’s sparked great conversations. My mother pointed out once to a baffled me that a poor boy might be fulsomely praising a girl who was sweet as an apple on Christmas day. It seemed weak to me. But it was an important privilege check for me.

Everyone loves the saxophone in You Can Call Me Al, and I do, too. It was flirting music for me and my first girlfriend, all about hints and allegations.

I remember being horrified to discover the lawsuits by African musicians alleging poor pay…but I know the music business better now and so am less concerned.

Graceland was my intro to Paul Simon–all the Simon and Garfunkel stuff I know from after. I have the anniversary edition of Graceland sitting in its CD case, but the real version of it for me will always be the cassette that rode around in my first three cars.

 Writing 101 Day 3: Three Favorite Songs