I'm listening to the new Paul Simon album. So Beautiful or So What confirms Simon's place at the top of the pile of lyricists. Building on Surprise - one of my favourite albums of all time - So Beautiful or So What contains reflections and ruminations on mortality, the meaning of life and what happens when we die.
The lyrics ride on wonderful tunes, played by some great musicians and are shot through with a fierce and playful wit, making the album a delight to listen to.
Simon has been quoted as saying that he's not much interested in religion. But he's certainly interested in God and what God might have do with us. It opens with Getting Ready for Christmas Day (not exactly seasonal for an album released in June - but that's part of the playfulness!) which contains the line: 'Getting ready, oh we’re getting ready/For the power and the glory and the story of the Christmas Day' intercut with samples from a black preacher and poignant reflections on family as the song's narrator has a nephew in Iraq.
And in many ways this playful, witty, scatter-gun opener sets the scene for the rest of the album. It's a roller coaster of tuneful intelligence and rhythm. Check it out