Wednesday, July 5, 2006
The Paul Simon Concert
Electric Lines, 2006, Oil on Panel, 14x11
I can't believe that I forgot to mention Trey Anastasio and his group's awesome version of "Get Back", the old Beatles tune. I am not a huge Beatles fan, but there are a few songs that I love and that is one of them. Anyway, that was one of the songs performed Sunday night that I really got into.
Last night's Paul Simon concert was so excellent! The concert was played on Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, NY (the same place that we saw Bob Dylan perform 2 years ago) and seating was open, so you could sit either on the bleachers or on the field in front of the stage. The bleachers seemed way too far away to us so Doug and I sat on the ground on the field. Everyone was sitting on blankets and many people had their children along (we left ours with a sitter), so it was a very different atmosphere that the Phil Lesh concert! The opening performance was by 12 time Grammy winner Jerry Douglas. Don't know who he is? We never heard of him either. He was ok, he and his group played instrumental music, I would say somewhere in the bluegrass folk category and Douglas plays the dobro, which has really cool sound. So during their performance everyone was sitting down on the blankets, relaxing and eating overpriced french fries and hot dogs and drinking $2 bottles of water. I was looking forward to casually kicking back, lounging on our blanket and listening to Paul Simon, but it was not to be. While the stage crew was preparing the stage for Paul Simon, most of the people on the field stood up to stretch, we did too, and then he came out onto the stage and everyone else stood to see and that was it. We had to stand to watch the whole thing, peering between bobbing heads, big hats and kids on their parent's shoulders. Of course, at this point there was a brief rain shower, so we all pulled out our rain ponchos until it passed.
Simon just kind of casually strolled out onto the stage, wearing a baseball cap, thankfully, because his comb over and hair transplants make me a little nervous, and a t-shirt and jeans. Many of his band members had baseball shirts on. Like the Phil Lesh concert everything was pretty casual, stripped down and basic. It was all about the music. And the music was perfect. Paul Simon's voice is still incredible, sweet and harmonious, just right. He played a few songs from his new album, Surprise, songs that seemed nice but I didn't really know them. Then he played his older music, Mrs. Robinson, Graceland, Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, Still Crazy After All These Years (which always makes me think of him in the turkey suit, singing the song on Saturday Night Live, back in the seventies, and yes, I actually saw that episode when it aired), Bridge Over Troubled Water, The Boxer, Slip Slidin' Away, and Cecilia*(seeing him perform Cecilia put me over the moon). The nostalgic aspect of these songs was incredible and the crowd was so enthusiastic, singing along and dancing. However, there was also a wonderful international flair to the music, in keeping with the sound that Simon has been incorporating into his music over the last 20 years or so. Between Simon and one of the other guitar players, they must have switched guitars 47 times, sometimes even in the middle of a song. There was a sax player who was incredible, not to mention pretty cute (sorry for the gratuitous hottie remark there, but I couldn't let the cute guy go unmentioned). They played two very generous encores, each consisting of 3 songs, one of which was You Can Call Me Al, which practically caused the whole audience to explode, everyone was so excited. I was hoping they'd include 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover**, but they didn't. After the set and each encore, Simon spent some time making contact, chatting and shaking hands with the audience members who were right up at the stage (that did not include us as we weren't THAT close, unfortunately), which I found to be very endearing. He seemed really into playing this small venue and Doug and I were so glad to have had the opportunity to go to this concert.
Next up: Midnight Ramble with Levon Helm in my favorite place, Woodstock, NY on July 22. Totally looking forward to that!
* Cecilia is perhaps one of my most favorite songs ever. I think I say that about many songs, but I really mean it this time. Really. When I was in third grade at Jefferson Elementary in Rochester, Minnesota, we had a turntable in our classroom that played only 45's. And if you are too young to know what 45's are, too bad, I can't bear to explain about record albums, it's just too painful. Anyway, whenever we had free time, we were allowed to put a record on, alas we only had about five to choose from, one of which was Cecilia. Which we probably listened to 5,497 times that year. So that song reminds me of that year and of my friends, Jeff Cosgrove and Kim Duane and of how very cool we were when we sang along about that two timing girl, Cecilia. Of course, we had no idea what was going on in the lyrics or that our beloved Cecilia seemed to be kind of a slut.
**50 Ways to Leave Your Lover reminds me of oh, probably about fifth grade at Hawthorne Elementary (we moved a lot and I was in a new school almost every year). It was on the radio all of the time and my best friend Tammy and I liked it because she had a crush on a boy named Roy, which is a name mentioned in the song, and again, we thought we were way cool because we knew all of the words. Although, looking back, I don't think we were too clear on the meaning of it all. Ahh, innocence!