Monday, May 16, 2011
Here Comes Something, and It Feels So Good
There's a video going around of a woman at a Paul Simon concert who got his attention well enough to let him know that she had learned how to play guitar using his song "Duncan," and got to go up on stage and play and sing it. I too love the song "Duncan," although I can't play it, or much of anything else, on the guitar. It seems to me to be a serious step forward in his songwriting: Back with "El Condor Pasa," Simon merely appropriated a Peruvian folk song and wrote new lyrics for it. For "Duncan," though, Simon used these Andean influences to create a mood around a much better and more personal song. (The lyrics also seem to be an upgrade on "The Boxer," with a similar story but actual characters.)
But even more than that, "Duncan" is distinctive because it takes its title from the main character's last name. "Lincoln Duncan is my name, and here's my song" goes the end of the first verse, although "Lincoln" seems like an odd name to give a poor boy from Canada.
How many other pop songs are named after a character's surname? There are plenty named after first names ("Mandy," "Alfie,"), or last names with honorifics ("Doctor Wu," "Mr. Jones"), or full names ("Amos Moses," "Eleanor Rigby"), or titles with a last name that's part of a longer title ("A Fifth of Beethoven," "Along Came Jones"). But are there any others that are just a last name?
While you're pondering that, here's Rayna with Paul Simon: