Birdhouse Bookshelf
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Ever Since the Watermelon

"YamwotIam has the best reading, in my opinion. There’s a direct metaphor with earth, and the song is about human sameness despite appearances of difference (evils in the world being traceable to "the myth of fingerprints — I have seen them all, and man, they’re all the same").

In addition, Paul Simon has talked extensively about what he was doing on Graceland. While writing the album, he was listening to township music — guitar-driven, jangly rock of the South African township neighborhoods which were densely populated by poor blacks who were restricted from living elsewhere. A lot of township music has fast-moving, staccato lyrics, and it’s usually not in English, but in Swahili or Zulu. So as he was listening to it, Simon admired the pop and flow and detailed sound of the vocal, but he couldn’t understand any of it. He was aiming to replicate that intricate, wordy vocal sound on Graceland, but using English. You can hear that attempt all over the album — a line like “Don’t I know you from the cinematographer’s party?” was created primarily for the impression it gives when spoken rhythmically, fast short syllables falling all over each other, than for storytelling reasons.

But to me, the genius of the album is that sense emerges from the sounds anyway. Look at the lyrics across the whole album - they don’t read like lyrics, but when sung rhythmically they’re incredibly musical. “A man walks down the street. I’s a street in a strange world. Maybe it’s the third world. Maybe it’s his first time around. Doesn’t speak the language. Holds no currency. He is a foreign man. He is surrounded by the sound, the sound of cattle in the marketplace. Scatterlings and orphanages…”

"Ever since the watermelon" is an excellent fill that adds sense and extends a metaphor already in the song…that’s all I’d say."

by Miko / June 11, 2007

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Everybody hates everyone, World Cup

Massimo Vignelli

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