Maybe I first made the association between Paul Simon and wholesomeness wen I was a child because that’s when I first heard his music, due to my parents. Maybe his big dark eyes, soft voice and diminutive stature still remind me, in a way, of my childhood self? Since then I’ve seen The Graduate, heard the songs about Vietnam and Frank Lloyd Wright and the Bob Dylan covers. I’ve generally learned to associate Simon & Garfunkel with a cooler, edgier side of 60s/70s culture, (as erroneous as that might be, of course, since I wasn’t born then I can’t know for sure what ideas they were seen to represent) but I still don’t know how to process these lyrics from ‘The Boxer’:
“ … but I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores on 7th Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there
la la la la la la la”
Or for that matter, his sleazy and weird Annie Hall character. As great as that film is and as charmed as I obviously was by Diane Keaton, Simon’s presence completely distracted me. For one thing, the man really can’t act. For another, he is very short. But towards the end, I mostly just found him hard to handle as a pimp-y example of LA’s shallowest extremities. His Garfunkelling days may be over, but how could the man responsible for He Was My Brother and Bridge Over Troubled Water have transformed so dramatically?
It’s extra ridiculous to hold onto this sense of disillusionment when both of these versions of Simon are fictitious, right? Actually, I think that makes it harder to deal with. The Boxer and Annie Hall awkwardly remind me of the likelihood that Paul Simon does have a dark side, but act as distractions from how that dark side may actually manifest. If he’s not sleazing up Diane Keaton or patronising the local harlots, then what is he up to instead? I don’t know, but I feel like I’m better off staying haunted than doing my research and ending up scarred.