Paul Simon As Short Story Writer

I’ve always thought of Paul Simon’s songs as musical short stories. If you know me, I might have talked your ear off about his brilliance at some point or another. Probably in a car, on a road trip, when you can’t escape. (Sorry about that.) My annoying proselytizing aside, there’s no doubt that Simon is a genius at capturing character and emotion in a single line or phrase. I think “Slip Slidin’ Away” rivals Carver or Hempel at their best. This verse, in particular, stands out:

And I know a father
Who had a son
He longed to tell him all the reasons
For the things he’d done
He came a long way
Just to explain
He kissed his boy as he lay sleeping
Then he turned around and headed home again

Or take this verse from “René and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War,”

René and Georgette Magritte
With their dog after the war
Were strolling down Christopher Street
When they stopped in a men’s store
With all the mannequins
Dressed in style
That brought tears to their
Immigrant eyes


Needless to say, I was happy to find Phil Sandick’s in-depth exploration of Simon’s storytelling in the Fiction Writers Review archives. I can die happy. Someone else understands.

Fiction Writers Review » Blog Archive » What the Short Story Writer can Learn from Paul Simon’s Lyrics

After reading Sandick’s article, I put Paul Simon: Lyrics 1964-2008 on hold at the library so I can read it post haste.



Filed under Klickitat Recommends, Musings, Quote of the Day, This Business of Writing

2 responses to “Paul Simon As Short Story Writer

  1. I think that “Homeward Bound” is one of the most evocative story songs I’ve ever heard and just a part of why I love Paul Simon. Thanks for posting this article.

  2. Oh, yes! That’s a great one!

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