Notes on Paul Simon
Luke took me to see Paul Simon yesterday at Northerly Island. I thought to myself, “What if I had to report on this concert and write a review of it?” I would not know how to do this. Stadium shows are weird; they’re their own beast. But here is a list of notes I would have taken had I been given that assignment:
- You were not allowed to bring in an umbrella. Everyone had to leave their genuine oak-pine-handled L.L. Bean umbrellas in the grass. (It was a singularly rich crowd.) I think this is because if you opened an umbrella at a concert it would be hard for people behind you to see the concert, but I much prefer the theory that umbrellas are usually secretly concealing switchblades. I made that theory up myself, but isn’t that fun to imagine?
- When you got in, the first thing you could buy was a can of Bud Light. This cost $13. Here are other things that cost $13: a whole meal for a family of four from the grocery store; five tickets to see Simon and Garfunkel in 1961; two twelve-packs at Bud Light from 7-11. Many (MANY) people bought a can of Bud Light. FOR $13.
- You could also buy a $20 lemonade with probably a tablespoon of vodka in it. But that came in a plastic cup that was shaped like a guitar.
- We sat high up and as we waited for Paul Simon, we had to watch a lot of commercials on the stadium screens about “Half Earth,” an organization committed to saving half the earth. This conjures up silly / disturbing images for me of halved-grapefruit of an earth struggling to spin on its orbit. Some of the ads implied that soon the earth would be swimming in pools of lava — which may be true, but it’s not what you want to be thinking about before you see Paul Simon.
- We were surrounded by TRULY GREAT human beings — so terrific they practically escape description. A kid (13? 14?) in a fedora, a jazz fest-style T-shirt, cargo board shorts, and the sort of peach fuzz mustache you can grow when you just left middle school kept popping up like a bean (he weighed about 100 pounds I think) to shriek and pump his fist in the air. He knew every single word to every single song. He was there with his mom. Speaking of moms: There was one to our left who spent the whole concert with her eyes closed, mouthing the words.
- I’ve moved on to another bullet point so it looks like this one isn’t too long, but guys — I’m still on the last one. The concert-going people there were wonderful. The median age was mid-sixties early-seventies, and people were dancing. No one seemed embarrassed to be themselves. This is inspiring, and gives me hope for my future. Someday I hope to not be embarrassed to be myself. It looks good on people.
- Paul Simon is 75 and he is still really super-hot. I am not just saying this. You watch him up there and you’d have to be dead to not feel your breath leave your body for him. I would do anything he asked me to do. Sometimes my grandmother reads my blog, so I am not going to elaborate on that point. Use your imagination.
- Luke loves Paul Simon and it is beautiful. The best moment of the night was when Luke put his arm around me and Paul Simon sang “America.” It was one of those concert moments where times stops as it moves forward, and you just CRY, and it’s the NICEST CRY, and you feel like you want to be at concerts all the time.
- There was a woman behind us for a while who sang the words to “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” so loudly that I could no longer hear Paul Simon. I liked her and she sounded REALLY drunk even though it was only the second song of the night. I take comfort in knowing that people in their 60s still pre-game.*
- The $13 Bud Light guys had the audacity to march up and down the aisles during the show SCREAMING about how they had cold beer to sell. This is a concert and not a sports game and we need to HEAR everything, Beer Guys! People kept buying the beer. I need you all to collectively remind me that if I ever have enough money to consider buying a $13 can of Bud Light, that I should be giving most of it away.
- There is no way for me to tell you how many people were in Paul Simon’s band. I am going to guess 12. At no point could I count them all, although I tried. (They were tiny to me and they kept moving around.) A piccolo, a tin-whistle, and a flute were all represented. (Of the tin-whistlest, Luke said, “Of course that man plays the tin-whistle. Never have I ever seen a man who looks more like he plays a tin-whistle.” The man had two puffy white beards that he probably called “sideburns.”)
- Really good hardcore jazz piano solo.
- And pretty good sax solo — although it still feels true that Kenny G has (potentially forever) destroyed sax in pop music. Poor pop sax guys.
- And Luke lost his mind over the “Seinfeld”-y bass solo in “Graceland."
- This concert made me feel good things about the past — because these songs remind me of driving through wheat fields in college, or riding the train in the summer — and good things about the future — because you can always spend your Wednesday night at a concert if you want to no matter where you are in your life. (There were even people who rode their bikes to the venue and sat on the lawn outside. They could hear everything and they didn't have to pay a cent.)
- A LOT of Paul Simon’s lyrics are about being a “poor boy” or looking at a “poor boy” or, you know, variations on that.
- I find a double encore rude. Just have a freaking LONG encore. Don’t make your audience clap for you offstage twice. It’s too much work. We are tired. We have been standing for an hour. Let us just have a magnificent second-concert-of-an-encore. OK?
- Turns out, Paul Simon is super-into the Half Earth organization (see earlier bullet point). He had their hat on and he talked about it a lot. He gave all the money for this tour to Half Earth. Just think: If we could get Paul McCartney to do the exact same thing, we could save the WHOLE earth!
- Luke loves Paul Simon and it is beautiful (see earlier bullet point). I can think of nothing better than going to a concert with someone you love, who loves the music with their whole soul. Can you?
* This is because I have never pre-gamed anything, and I kind of want to. I recently had a fleeting notion that I might be too old for it now, and I might never get the chance. Nope! You can do it when you are 60. You can drink a bunch and then you can go to Paul Simon.