[Review] Paul Simon: Still Crazy After All These Years (1975)

The perfect soundtrack to the mid-Seventies malaise of low morals and high prices.

Kronomyth 4.0: Single Simon.

Paul Simon’s divorce from his first wife set the stage for the bittersweet, beaten, yet occasionally brilliant Still Crazy After All These Years. The album is typically eclectic but a little less impressive than his last two albums. Then again, it did win the Grammy for Album of the Year, so obviously somebody was impressed with it.

I’ve always seen in the album’s songs a mirror for the mid-Seventies malaise in America. In a society where free love had become free sex, and where the national outcry had shifted from the cost of war to the price of gasoline, Simon the White Knight of American Idealism was fading into something of a red, white and blue cynic. The jazzy opening title track, said to be inspired by Simon’s study under Bill Evans bassist Chuck Israels (a claim I can’t deny or confirm), sets a complicated and troubled tone that persists throughout the album. It’s a powerful song, and the moment following the line “It’s all gonna fade,” where the song seems to come unstuck from reality and float in the sweet limbo of remembrance, is one of those indelible moments in music that everyone should hear.

Over the next few songs, Still Crazy would seem to be his crowning achievement: a much-anticipated reunion with Art Garfunkel on “My Little Town,” the perfectly McCartneyesque “I Do It For Your Love” and the insidiously funky “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.” After that, however, the deluge of depression: the elegiac “Night Game,” a surprisingly flat gospel duet with Phoebe Snow, “Gone at Last,” a return to the title track’s haunts, “Some Folks’ Lives Roll Easy,” and so on. By album’s end, the man who once called himself Jerry Landis sounds more like Jeremiah the weeping prophet.

It’s still a good album, and it would be five years before Simon made another (the quasi-soundtrack One Trick Pony), but if you’re looking for the year’s best album, listen to The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Fleetwood Mac, Toys in the Attic, Physical Graffiti, A Night at the Opera, etc.

Original elpee version

A1. Still Crazy After All These Years (3:25)
A2. My Little Town (3:52)
A3. I Do It for Your Love (3:35)
A4. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (3:35)
A5. Night Game (2:47)
B1. Gone at Last (3:24)
B2. Some Folks’ Lives Roll Easy (3:10)
B3. Have a Good Time (3:23)
B4. You’re Kind (3:23)
B5. Silent Eyes (3:57)

All songs written by Paul Simon.

CD reissue bonus tracks
10. Slip Slidin’ Away (demo)
11. Gone at Last (demo)

The Players

Paul Simon (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, horn and string arrangements), Steve Gadd (drums), Tony Levin (bass), Ralph McDonald (percussion) with Ken Asher (electric piano/organ on A3/A4), Patti Austin (vocal background on A4), Joe Beck (electric guitar), Barry Beckett (electric piano/piano on A1/A2), Mike Brecker (saxophone on A1/B2), Pete Carr (electric guitar on A2), The Chicago Community Choir (background vocals on B5), Eddia Daniels (saxophone on B2), Gordon Edwards (bass on B1), Jerry Friedman (electric guitar on A3), Art Garfunkel (vocals on A2), Roger Hawkins (drums on A1/A2), David Hood (bass on A1/A2), Bob James (electric piano, woodwinds and string arrangements), The Jessy Dixon Singers (vocal background on B1), Dave Mathews (horn arrangement on A2/B3), Hugh McCracken (electric guitar, acoustic guitar), Leon Pendarvis (piano on B5), Dave Sanborn (saxophone on B2), Valerie Simpson (background vocals on A4/B3), Sivuca (accordion and vocal solo on A3), Phoebe Snow (vocals/vocal background on A4/B1), Grady Tate (drums on B1), Richard Tee (piano on B1), Toots Thielmans (harmonica on A5), John Tropea (electric guitar on A4), Phil Woods (saxophone on B3). Produced by Paul Simon and Phil Ramone; engineered by Phil Ramone except A2 by Jerry Masters; recorded by Burt Szerlip and Glen Berger.

The Pictures

Cover photo by Edie Baskin. Cover design by John Berg and Anthony Maggiore.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and quadroph0nic elpee on October 25, 1975 in the US (Columbia, PC/PCQ 33540), the UK and the Netherlands (CBS, S 86001) and Japan (CBS, SOPO-102) with picture innersleeve. Reached #1 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record) and #6 on the UK charts. Won Grammy Award for Album of the Year, 1975.

  1. Re-released on half-speed mastered elpee in 1981 in the US (CBS Mastersounds, HC-43540).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in the 1980s in Germany (Warner Bros., 925 591-1) with picture innersleeve.
  3. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2004 in the UK (Warner, 78901-2) with 2 bonus tracks.
  4. Re-issued on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2006 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-12414) with 2 bonus tracks.
  5. Re-issued on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2001 in the UK (Sony, 81999-2) with 2 bonus tracks.
  6. Re-released on remastered, 45 rpm, 180g vinyl 2LP in 2021 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UD1S 2-014) limited to 8,000 copies.

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