Paul Nelson

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Although his aim may be higher, Paul Simon has always been more a wistful classicist than an adventurous romantic…. ven the fools don't act foolish in his songs, for such gratuitous and unchic behavior simply cannot be permitted in a closed off society where class and proper emotional manners are rated more favorably than quixotic clownishness and primal risk taking. Why should a fool be just a fool when he can be elevated to the loftier and more poetic status of victim? What's wrong with The Graduate anyway? Up there, there is almost no chance of being misunderstood or disliked, and everyone takes you seriously.

Still Crazy after All These Years, Simon's grim and ambitious new album, begs these and other questions as it surehandedly paints itself into the usual corner under the familiar shadow of Bob Dylan. For inside the lush and dolorous Still Crazy, there is a lean, hungry Blood on the Tracks trying to get out. Both LPs chronicle the dissolution of a marriage, but where Dylan, with ofttimes awkward agony, makes you feel it, Simon, with more slick professionalism than is good for his subject matter, makes you think you feel it—a crucial difference….

Still Crazy wears its depression like a merit badge of sensitivity, sometimes pushing its unrelieved bleakness into the realm of self-parody….

"50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" is a complex, ironic song whose verses probe deeply into a unique situation of adultery: seduction disguised as therapy. Disappointingly, it suffers an attack of terminal cuteness during its facile chrous, which scans like an ad for Cosmopolitan.

Simon's rubber-knife irony also takes a long walk off a transparently short pier in "Have a Good Time," a song which makes me long for Randy Newman and three-dimensional characters who can achieve maximum impact with minimal sentimentality….

"Still Crazy after All These Years" is the album's best song because it is the only one that successfully breaks through the stylistic barrier between Simon's subject matter and its natural implications and confronts both artist and audience directly. (p. 57)

Paul Simon's myths were always too pretty to be believed—they lacked the necessary mystery and danger to have size, his Moby Dick would have been a disaster—but no one has ever questioned his craftsmanship, the quality of his melodies or his seemingly inherent decency. It is difficult to imagine him "still crazy" because his pervasive intelligence has never allowed us to think him crazy in the first place. (p. 58)

Paul Nelson, "Pinin' Simon: Still Slick after All These Years," in Rolling Stone (by Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. © 1975; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Issue 201, December 4, 1975, pp. 57-8.

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