Sunday, November 09, 2003


Coming to you groggy from Vegas, to which a few friends and I came on pilgrimage for the Simon and Garfunkel reunion "Old Friends" concert at the MGM Grand. It was an incredible two hour experience of reliving "the soundtrack of my life" (thanks, Jan!) in the company of 16,000 other folks who felt the same way. Art's once lovely tenor isn't quite what it once was - but Paul's seems almost better so they balance out, I guess. But I was much more focussed on the haunting power of the music.

Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but I’m alright, I’m alright
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far a-way from home, so far away from home

I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to it’s knees
Oh, but it’s alright, it’s alright
For we lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the
Road we’re traveling on
I wonder what’s gone wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The statue of liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying

We come on the ship they call the mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the a-ge’s most uncertain hours
And sing an american tune
Oh, and it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest.
(American Tune, Paul Simon)

I have never understood all of Simon's music, but in the same way I don't "get" a lot of Emily Dickinson's poetry. It leaves me with the sense that the fault is in me, not in the artist's work.

What kind of power does music have that it can turn 16,000 strangers into brethren, and set them singing "Lie-la-lie, (drum) Lie-la-lie-lie-lie-lie, Lie-la-lie (drum), lie-la-lie-la-la-lie-lie-lie, la-la-la-lah-lie!" ?

The concert seemed more like a worship service to me, and afterward, I was wondering why the music at Church can't do for us brothers and sisters in Christ, what Simon's music did for a mass of strangers.

Simon has two things going for him, I think: mastery of craft in music and poetry. Most of the music bandied about in the Catholic Church is really bad musically and really, really bad poetry. (Have to pass some of the medicrity around here. Hanging out in Evangelical circles as is my wont, I can say that while they are much better than Catholics in terms of performance - they actually PAY their musicians! - I find most of their "praise and worship" songs really inane. Kind of like kindergarten level in terms of doctrine and meaning. ie 'YOU are WORTHY, WORTHY, WORTHY, FATHER, YOU are WORTHY".... This kind of stuff makes our Gather Us In feel like the Summa Theologica of hymnody. AND IT'S NOT!

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