Paul Simon – “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes”

The nineties ended in 1997, let’s face it. In 1997, the world at large started to feel more grey, more generic. Skanky women in New York started wearing lowrise jeans, it would still be years before they reached us out west. The warming glow of our Cold War victory was wearing thin as we faced a new, underwhelming enemy on the Indian Ocean.

On a personal level I was starting to have a genuine interest in music, starting here with Paul Simon’s Graceland. I couldn’t get enough of it and it was the first time I couldn’t get enough of everything. But on a greater level, I could only appreciate that little window of celebration, the kind of internationalism that brought Paul Simon to this album, that was now coming to an end.

Next: Radiohead, Judaism, and more grey.

Paul Simon – “The Boy in the Bubble”

When: July 1997
Where: California State Route 14, northbound through Lancaster
Who: My father
Weather: Hot, clear

My father didn’t tolerate kiddie music, so when he took me on trips up to the Eastern Sierra, he would bring his own tapes. Sam Cooke, Sam and Dave, Gershwin, and this: Paul Simon’s Graceland. My mom’s car didn’t have a tape deck.

Many of the songs on my list are not singular, they aren’t special. These are merely songs played over and over for just a short time, through no action of my own. But they are forever etched into my memory. They are so then that they cannot be escaped. 1997 was my first big music year, and this ’86 release was, in a sense, a vacation from the present day.

Next: The dream of the nineties comes close to an end as Paul Simon returns.