Paul Simon Remembrances

Well, it was way back in 1990 (or thereabouts). I was a student at The King’s College when we got the great news that Paul Simon would be playing a free concert in Central Park, open to the public, entirely general admission. Since Graceland had just come out recently and convinced us all that Paul Simon was a musical genius nonpareil, several of my friends and I decided that we would be there. Further, wanting to ensure that we got the best seats possible, we decided to sleep in Central Park like a bunch of unusually giddy homeless people. We went out, set up camp with a couple dozen other people who had apparently had the same idea, and went to sleep. Halfway through the night, it began to rain, and we all got pretty well soaked. Since the concert didn’t begin until evening, we ended up loitering around Central Park in our wet clothes all day, chafing and complaining, but still looking forward to the event. Finally, about 3 hours before the show started, they opened up the seating area, and we swarmed in, along with the few thousand others who had showed up by that time. We spread out our blanket close enough to the stage that I could have lobbed an apple at Paul and stood a fair chance of hitting him (and a better chance of spending the night with the NYPD). More waiting, and finally the concert began!

This was easily one of the best concerts I’d ever attended. No pyrotechnics, no lasers, no light shows, just an excellent sound system, and about a zillion musicians up on stage with Paul Simon, who was in impeccable form and obviously enjoying the crowd’s enthusiasm. One particular percussionist was great fun to watch, as he would only play a single note on the downbeat of every other measure, and would spend the remaining seven beats just dancing around the drum. The bass player gave out about halfway through the solo in You Can Call Me Al and just resorted to some slaps and pops, but we all cheered him anyway. We kept expecting Art Garfunkel to put in a cameo, since this was Central Park and all, but no such luck. In spite of that one failing, it was a great show, and a great experience that if I had it all to do over again, I would gladly repeat. Only this time, I’d bring a pair of dry underwear with me for after the rain.