Saturday, October 29, 2011

You Can Call Me Al

It's been almost an entire month since I hit the 'new post' button. Unusual for me to be posting here, eh? I finally found something interesting to write about, and of all things, it's a review of a song I came upon.

Years ago, probably 2005, Bob FM had a TV clone of itself in where it played music videos of the very songs the station broadcasts (80s, 90s, whatever). I don't think there is a Bob TV anymore, but there was - and it wasn't a channel, but rather just a programming block.

I was particularly interested in it because, other than just generally liking songs and music videos from the 80s with enthusiasm, I was hoping for anything by Madness to come on there (I write that sentence despite anyone knowing me having come up with that conclusion as soon as I wrote 'other than just generally liking...'). Madness didn't show up on there, but a few other videos - including ones by Aha!, the Go-Go's (where I first heard of them, probably, probably not) and Paul Simon - showed up.

It was the Paul Simon one that I found both intriguing and kind of pointless.

At the time, I didn't really notice who was singing or what happened. Instead, two people sat in chairs, one singing and the other looking on, kind of bored. The bored guy would perform instrumental solos from time to time though.

The only thing, prior to my coming back to it last night, that I could remember was "if you could be my bodyguard."

Last night I somehow found myself reading up on Chevy Chase on Wikipedia. Part of me wanted to see how he came to look so different between the late '70s and what I see of him now on Community (he doesn't look the same to me at all for some reason, maybe it's the glasses).

I eventually came to a bit in which he appeared in a music video with Paul Simon called 'You can Call Me Al.' I don't know how that music video came back to mind, but it rung a bell so I went straight to the Wikipedia article on that, read the short description of the music video, and immediately went to it on Youtube.


It was kind of funny seeing that thing again...probably more funny than the first time with my better knowledge of it. The song has a lot of lyrics that tell more of a story than just a verse-chorus-type thing. No repetition other than in the chorus. When I saw it the first time I thought it was more of a talk. It makes the song sound more diverse, in lyrics than in music, though the music is upbeat and fun to listen to as well. It has a lot of African influence, which I like because I grew up with a minor appreciation in African music; my father only really played it when I was with him as a younger child, so I kind of grew up with it.

As for the music video itself, the guy singing is actually Chevy Chase, while Simon sits there with a bored expression on his face, unless he has to get up to deal with random instruments. He gets up to leave several times, not always to grab a conga drum but just to disappear and then come back later. In the beginning, they enter the room together with difficulty (they can't fit through the doorway together) sit down in chairs oriented almost like it's a talk-show, and shake hands. Paul Simon opens his mouth, but before he can start at all, Chase begins over him with an upbeat enthusiasm, complete with reacting facial expressions and hand gestures. Simon is left to sit there looking at the camera like he has no real purpose there, other than the mutter the bass voice with Chase during the chorus and to sometimes get up to play the tin whistle.

What I find interesting is how much the video and song reminds me of James, the guy in Calgary I had fun with as a child with my father (Simon looks a little like him to me, but with flatter hair) and the music itself. What I find even more interesting is how Simon reacts and looks exactly like me in expression and purposeless. I've been spoken over many times while talking to more than one person (in fact that's normal in those situations for me) and the disinterested look on Simon's face mirrors my own disinterested look when I feel cast aside (not uncommon with me either) or when I can't seem to get anywhere in social situations with, again, more than one person. I get bored and annoyed, so I look like that. Perhaps I'll get up and leave and then come back. If I were in that exact situation, where another guy hi-jacks my spot, I'd react in exactly the same way (and I have in the past).

The music, again, brings back some childhood sounds and genres and things, just the sound of it, and that's what I like about it. The lyrics tell a good story too, and the song has a lot of little elements to it - like the conga drum and the tin whistle - that make it stand out.
Chevy Chase does a great job acting out the lyrics. He also casually has a glass of water before letting it smash on the floor.

One more thing I like about the video is just how simplistic and mundane it is - two guys sitting in front of a camera, one singing in good nature while the other sits there staring glumly or disappearing, only to return later with a bass guitar and conga drum. What a fun idea to film! No surprises - just basic, talk show-like sitting and staring/singing.

Oh what fun that was.
Music: A-
Lyrics: B+

You can call me Justin C.