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 noticed
The way she brushed her hair from her forehead
The above stanza is probably my favorite song lyric of all time, from Paul Simon‘s Graceland. Some friends and I were having a discussion last night about musical genius vs. songwriting genius (details for another post), and I thought about this lyric again.
It really has it all- the scalpel precision of Simon’s devastated protagonist and his heartbreak, recognizing his ex-lover’s petty need to remind him she no longer loves him, and the tenderness of his memories despite her unwitting cruelness. And Simon just reels lines like these off all the time; they’re as common to him as inappropriately brutal guitar solos are to CC Deville.
It’s the sublime, less snarky version of “How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?” (which is a kick-ass song title, by the way.)
And the second half of this verse is almost as good as the first:
And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you’re blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow
A lesser songwriter would repeat the “blown apart” line. Simon, in his Zen-like restraint, turns a selfish “poor me” moment into a Haiku meditation: “Everybody sees the wind blow…” and follows it with the hopeful chorus, “…in Graceland.” Graceland as Heaven, Graceland as refuge, Graceland as meditation of why he started writing songs in the first place.
I’m in awe of that album in general, and Paul Simon in particular. And don’t even get me started on The Rhythm of the Saints, which I like even more than Graceland, if possible.
(This might be a cool little feature: “Favorite Song Lyrics.” Carl? Thoughts? Carl?
Dammit, Carl, pay attention!)