Friday, February 13, 2009

Songs for adults about kids

As I was cleaning up the house today in preparation for Hedgehog's arrival (which could be anywhere from tomorrow to a few weeks off), Paul Simon's "Beautiful" came on the "Songs To Clean The House By" iPod mix. It's one of my favorite songs right now. He manages to capture the hope-in-spite-of-it-all that I feel at this precipice of life-change-to-the-unrecognizable. (I repeat it a little sometimes..."I'm gonna be a dad, I'm gonna be a dad, I'm gonna be a dad...") I sang this to Swankette once and made her cry. It might make me cry if I try it again.

It got me to thinking of the many songs Paul Simon has written about children and the hope associated. With his first child and first marriage, he wrote the gorgeous "St. Judy's Comet," which I'll certainly sing to Hedgehog. It's not quite as transcendent as "Beautiful," but man, he gets it right. Both "Beautiful" and the fun, sweet "Father to Daughter" are about his second batch of kids with Edie Brickell, and just as lovely as the one from his son with first wife Peg.

But the best, strangely, might be from in-between his spates of children. "Born at the Right Time" just came on the iPod as well. So hopeful, so gorgeous, so perfect for my current mindset.

There's too many people on the bus from the airport
Too many holes in the crust of the earth
The planet groans every time it registers another birth

But down among the reeds and rushes
A baby girl was found
Her eyes as clear as centuries
Her silky hair was brown

Never been lonely
Never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear
Nothing denied to

Born at the instant
The church bells chime
The whole world whispering
Born at the right time.


Paul Simon was one of my go-to CDs in college--particularly the underrated Hearts and Bones--because his perspectives on relationships were absolutely on the money for my overly-introspective late-teens-and-early-twenties self. I've never stopped listening to him, but unlike other artists I've liked in the past--Aimee Mann, for instance--he's provided a new set of fertile lyrics appropriate to my life as he ages. The man is 68 this year, and I hope he writes more and more new songs through his 70s and 80s for me to grow into.

I suspect I'll be listening to a hell of a lot more of him in the not-too-distant future.

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