Monday, September 04, 2006

Paul Simon's Surprise

Paul Simon’s new album ‘Surprise’ (which can be previewed here) has some interesting observations about the direction religion is going. In one song, ‘Wartime Prayers’, he notes:

Prayers offered in times of peace are silent conversations, Appeals for love or love's release In private invocations But all that is changed now, Gone like a memory from the day before the fires. People hungry for the voice of God Hear lunatics and liars Wartime prayers, wartime prayers In every language spoken, For every family scattered and broken.

In another song ‘I don’t believe’, he sings:

I don't believe we were born to be sheep in a flockTo pantomime prayers with the hands of a clock

The albums title track opens provocatively with the song “How can you live in the Northeast?”

How can you live in the Northeast?How can you live in the South?How can you build on the banks of a riverWhen the flood water pours from the mouth?How can you be a Christian?How can you be a Jew?How can you be a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu?How can you?Weak as the winter sun, we enter life on earth.Names and religion comes just after date of birth.Then everybody gets a tongue to speak,And everyone hears an inner voice,A day at the end of the week to wonder and rejoice.If the answer is infinite lightWhy do we sleep in the dark?

Of course, it being Paul Simon, you’re not going to get any unequivocal statements and his meaning is often obscure.

As a long-time fan, I must say, I don’t rate this album as anything approaching his best work. It’s competent, but, from what I heard on the preview, is rather pedestrian. But “People hungry for the voice of God, Hear lunatics and liars” – what a line!


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