- Audio CD (Sept. 7 2018)
- Original Release Date: Sept. 7 2018
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Sony Music Canada Entertainment Inc.
- Run Time: 44 minutes
- ASIN: B07FDFGWHC
- In-Print Editions: LP Record
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,405 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
In The Blue Light
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|1. One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor|
|3. Can't Run But|
|4. How the Heart Approaches What It Yearns|
|5. Pigs, Sheep and Wolves|
|6. René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War|
|7. The Teacher|
|8. Darling Lorraine|
|9. Some Folks' Lives Roll Easy|
|10. Questions for the Angels|
2018 set of offbeat personal favourites from the singer/songwriter's extensive back-catalogue going back to 1973 newly re-arranged and recorded with top musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Bill Frisell, Jack DeJohnette, Steve Gadd & chamber ensemble quintet yMusic
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each one a new focus. The all star players do justice to Simon's extraordinary works. Particular highlights include "Can't Run But" and "Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War." One could almost call these arrangements art songs, but Paul Simon's work has been artful from the very beginning. He is a great American treasure.
Since Paul's back catalog is already beyond reproach, I was most curious about the remainder of the song selections and what path he would choose upon revisiting. I am happy to report the results are mostly astounding.
There are a few naysayers here, including some who have said his voice is shot. You can most definitely ignore those comments. Paul's voice is in perfect form here. It doesn't even require the "for a 75 year old" qualification. He sounds GREAT. On to the songs.
For me, the remakes fit into three categories: Hits - Misses - Why Bother? And thankfully, the vast majority hit.
First - the misses.
For me, How the Heart Approaches What It Yearns and Some Folks Lives are unmitigated disasters here. What made the original How The Heart so special was the beautiful, subtle interplay of the nylon guitar and the lead electric. They stay somber and understated. But in the new version, Wynton Marsalis' trumpet trips all over the whole song. Even though the lines are played expressively and skillfully, the trumpet's presence here literally has the impact of a bull in a china shop. The subtlety and beauty of the original are replaced with a meandering mess of jazzy horns and piano fills.
On Some Folks Lives, again, the jazzy remake just trips all over itself. A HUGE part of the soul and majesty of the original is the how the horn section doubles as a rhythm piece. The background vocals soar. It's such an emotionally beautiful song. Yet here, it's a rambling mess, stripped of all the emotional content the original provides.
The only shoulder shrugger for me is the Teacher. I'm not sure why this fairly pedestrian song needed a remake. And while the new version is OK, the fresh coat of paint doesn't reveal anything new to me.
But for the remaining seven tracks on the album, we are treated to some extraordinarily special moments. One Man's Ceiling is superb. The new stripped down version of Love is a hauntingly beautiful gem. Can't Run But is truly gorgeous in it's new string arrangement. Pigs Sheep and Wolves has Wynton back again, this time adding a New Orleans jazz sound to the mix. And this time it is most, most welcome.
Side two opens with Paul and yMusic teamed up again for Rene and Georgette Magritte. The original recording from Hearts and Bones was always a little muddy to me. The synth drums and the Bulgarian singers were a bit much. Here, stripped down, it is a thing of majesty and wonder. Worth the price of the album.
And just when you think it can't get any more powerful, Darling Lorraine and Questions for the Angels appear. I already loved the original recordings for both of these songs. But these reworked versions are from the stars. The transition on Questions for the Angels is literally ethereal and heavenly.
I would love to be able to hand select another 10 to 15 songs from Paul's back catalog and have him create another album of remakes. Overall, this first pass was a glowing success from one of my musical heroes. I hope he continues to make new music in the years to come.
"Some folks' lives roll easy.
Some folks’ lives never roll at all.
They just fall.
They just fall,
Some folks’ lives."
The closing lyrics were expanded to include the following.
"Some folks' lives roll easy.
Some folks' lives
Gaze out from a window to a wall.
The sunlight written in a scrawl.
The gift that God intended for us all.
But some folks' lives..."
The bleakness of impoverished people never getting to see the sun from their place of residence gives the song a stronger emotional impact. Due to my financial situation, I was not able to see Paul Simon perform live in his farewell tour. At least I was fortunate enough to add this magnificent album to my Paul Simon collection. I highly recommend this album to all fans of Paul Simon's music.