I am a great lover of the popular song, and have no
preconceptions about what qualifies as a great one.
Cole Porter’s “Every Time You Say Goodbye” is an
exquisitely made song; you wouldn’t call “Knowing Me,
Knowing You” by Abba exquisite exactly, but on its own
terms it’s a tremendous song too. So is “Wuthering
Heights” by Kate Bush, though she never came near to
doing another like it. For exquisite you could also go to
Paul Simon’s “René and Georgette Magritte With Their
Dog After the War,” which is near perfect as dammit.
I love the sheer craft that goes into the making of these
songs and the way they touch universal emotions with
their particular combinations of music and lyric. "Safe
in My Garden" by the Mamas & the Papas moves me to
tears. Nick Cave's "Into My Arms," Rodgers & Hart's
"Where or When" as sung by Lena Horne...I could go on.
I won't. We all have our favourites. So I thank the
makers of those songs, who have given me such pleasure
and even joy, not to mention emotional guidance, over
the years. From "The Boxer" to "Born at the Right Time,"
from "My Little Town" to "Graceland," Paul Simon is
unquestionably one of them. Happy birthday, Paul.