I have learned SO MUCH by studying the lyrics of the 485th greatest song of all time, "Graceland", by Paul Simon.
The Mississippi Delta was shining
Like a National guitar
I originally thought we were talking about the southern end of the mighty Mississippi, way down yonder in New Orleans, but the World Wide Wackfest informs me the Mississippi Delta is the northwest section of the state of Mississippi, between the rivers Mississippi and Yazoo, just south of Memphis on US 61.
I am following the river down the highway
Through the cradle of the civil war
I originally thought we were talking about Charleston, South Carolina, where Fort Sumter was fired upon and the Civil War began. I even have corroboration from the BBC that Charleston is the "cradle of the Civil War." But now? Well, now I still think that, which makes it seem Mr. Simon is playing fast and loose with geography.
My traveling companion is nine years old
He is the child of my first marriage
Harper Simon was born September 7, 1972, so the timing of the roadtrip being referenced would be late 1981 or the first half of 1982...six years after Paul's divorce from Harper's mother, a year or so before his marriage to Carrie Fisher, and five years before the song was recorded.
But I've reason to believe
We both will be received
Pretty sure there's no minimum age requirement to visit Elvis' home.
There is a girl in New York City
Who calls herself the human trampoline
I originally thought we were talking about something akin to the lines in Simon's earlier song, "The Boxer," about finding some comfort with some particular females on 7th Avenue, New York City.
And sometimes when I'm falling, flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
Woah, so this is what she means
Nope...I'm pretty sure that's not what she means.
She means we're bouncing into Graceland
REALLY sure that's not what she means.
And I see losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody feels the wind blow
I originally thought this song was about a field trip to Elvis' home, but now I see it's about the breakup of Simon's first marriage and how he knows it's affecting his current relationships.
In Graceland, Graceland
I'm going to Graceland
For reasons I cannot explain
There's some part of me wants to see
And I may be obliged to defend
Every love, every ending
Or maybe there's no obligations now
Maybe I've a reason to believe
We all will be received
I originally thought this series of posts about Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time was going to be nothing but a barrel of laughs, and then Paul Simon comes along and sings of forgiveness and moving on from loss...and I've a reason to believe there may actually be a bit of redeeming social value to what I write after all.