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Billy Joel (Allentown), Paul Simon (Graceland)

DigiTrad:
AMERICAN TUNE
APRIL, COME SHE WILL
AT THE ZOO
BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS
CLOUDY
FEELING GROOVY (59th STREET BRIDGE SONG)
FIFTY WAYS TO HOSE YOUR CODE
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LEAVES THAT ARE GREEN
LINCOLN DUNCAN by Paul Simon
SOUND OF SILENCE


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GUEST,big__bad__B 20 Dec 00 - 10:18 AM
Mrrzy 20 Dec 00 - 02:20 PM
Joe Offer 20 Dec 00 - 08:40 PM
Joe Offer 20 Dec 00 - 08:53 PM
Grab 21 Dec 00 - 10:47 AM
Peter T. 21 Dec 00 - 03:38 PM
Knicke 21 Dec 00 - 04:01 PM
mousethief 21 Dec 00 - 04:05 PM
GUEST,LEJ 21 Dec 00 - 04:37 PM
Peter T. 21 Dec 00 - 04:54 PM
mousethief 21 Dec 00 - 05:03 PM
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Subject: Billy Joel, Paul Simon
From: GUEST,big__bad__B
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 10:18 AM

Does anyone know the historical significance (ie event and date) behind the lyrics in Paul Simon's "Graceland" and Billy Joel's "Allentown"? Any imput would be greatly appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Billy Joel, Paul Simon
From: Mrrzy
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 02:20 PM

I don't remember any dates in Graceland...?


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Subject: ADD: Allentown (Billy Joel)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 08:40 PM

Maybe, for the sake of discussion, it would be helpful to have the lyrics posted in this thread. I think "Allentown" may well be my favorite Billy Joel song, although there are may others I like. "Allentown" has a 1981 copyright, and I'd say the song talks about that time in history. The 1970's and early 1980's were a period of decline for American heavy industry, and the economy did not recover until the high tech industries took over in the early 1990's. I love those old industial towns in Pennsylvania and around the Great Lakes - the big factories and the ships and the trains are all fascinating to me.
-Joe Offer-

Allentown
(Billy Joel)
Album title: The Nylon Curtain

Well we're living here in Allentown
And they're closing all the factories down
Out in Bethlehem they're killing time
Filling out forms
Standing in line
Well our fathers fought the Second World War
Spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore
Met our mothers in the USO
Asked them to dance
Danced with them slow
And we're living here in Allentown
But the restlessness was handed down
And it's getting very hard to stay
Well we're waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard
If we behaved
So the graduations hang on the wall
But they never really helped us at all
No they never taught us what was real
Iron and coke
And chromium steel
And we're waiting here in Allentown
But they've taken all the coal from the ground
And the union people crawled away
Every child has a pretty good shot
To get at least as far as their old man got
But something happened on the way to that place
They threw an American flag in our place
Well I'm living here in Allentown
And it's hard to keep a good man down
But I won't be getting very hard to stay
And we're living here in Allentown
© 1981, Joelsongs (BMI)


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Subject: ADD: Graceland (Paul Simon)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 08:53 PM

Elvis Presley died August 16, 1977. Shortly after his death, that Presley's estate, Graceland, became a pilgrimage destination for thousands for fans. Paul Simon's Graceland album came out in 1986. I guess it's probable that the song is set in the ten-year period after Presley's death- although people still make pilgrimages to Graceland.
-Joe Offer-

GRACELAND
(Paul Simon)

The Mississippi Delta was shining
Like a National guitar
I am following the river
Down the highway
Through the cradle of the civil war

I'm going to Graceland
Graceland
In Memphis Tennessee
I'm going to Graceland
Poorboys and Pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland
My traveling companion is nine years old
He is the child of my first marriage
But I've reason to believe
We both will be received
In Graceland

She comes back to tell me she's gone
As if I didn't know that
As if I didn't know my own bed
As if I'd never noticed
The way she brushed her hair from her forehead
And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody feels the wind blow

I'm going to Graceland
Memphis Tennessee
I'm going to Graceland
Poorboys and Pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland

And my traveling companions
Are ghosts and empty sockets
I'm looking at ghosts and empties
But I've reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

There is a girl in New York City
Who calls herself the human trampoline
And sometimes when I'm falling, flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
Whoa, so this is what she means
She means we're bouncing into Graceland
And I see losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody feels the wind blow

In Graceland, in Graceland
I'm going to Graceland
For reasons I cannot explain
There's some part of me wants to see
Graceland
And I may be obliged to defend
Every love, every ending
Or maybe there's no obligations now
Maybe I've a reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

© 1986, Warner Brothers


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Subject: RE: Billy Joel, Paul Simon
From: Grab
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 10:47 AM

From memory of an interview Paul Simon did, it was written on the way to visiting friends - it doesn't refer to Elvis. May be wrong though - my memory is distinctly in need of a defrag! ;-)

Grab.


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Subject: RE: Billy Joel, Paul Simon
From: Peter T.
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 03:38 PM

Every once in awhile you just need to stop and look at some lyrics. Are these not pretty fine examples of the craft? Thanks Joe for the grunt work as ever. I remember an interview with Paul Simon where he said that the only lines he didn't like were the ones about "ghosts and empty sockets" -- filler, I think he said.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Billy Joel, Paul Simon
From: Knicke
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 04:01 PM

Heck, even the "ghosts and empty sockets" is purty cool, Paul's own opinions notwithstanding. I once read that Simon used to write his lyrics by bouncing a ball against the wall and catching it...he would sing/speak along with that rhythm; that's why they're so complicated yet roll so nicely off the tongue. My favorite lyricist of all time. Has anyone heard his new recording? Worth purchasing?


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Subject: RE: Billy Joel, Paul Simon
From: mousethief
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 04:05 PM

Knicke, I find it very um... uncatchy. The melodies -- if you can call them that -- are far more wandery than is usual for Simon, who can usually make you hum along after a couple of listens. But I've heard from others who love the "new direction" and called me a philistine.

Anyway, I have all of Simon's (and S&G's) CD's, so I'm not just dissing on Simon because I don't like him as a songwriter. But on "You're the One" it's like his melodymaker got busted.

ymmv.

Alex


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Subject: RE: Billy Joel, Paul Simon
From: GUEST,LEJ
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 04:37 PM

One thing becomes pretty clear after reading the lyrics to both songs:Paul's got more of a knack with the words.


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Subject: RE: Billy Joel, Paul Simon
From: Peter T.
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 04:54 PM

I agree generally, but as someone who has never stopped to look at Billy Joel lyrics, I think there are some nicely evocative turns of phrase (fought the Second World War, spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore -- graduations hang on the wall, etc.). Will have to go back and listen to the song.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Billy Joel, Paul Simon
From: mousethief
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 05:03 PM

I was a huge fan of both men in the 1970's and early 1980's. I lost interest in Joel after Nylon Curtain, and my last purchase of his was Innocent Man or whatever that album was called. I think his best LP's were The Stranger and the one just before it -- with "The Entertainer" on it. Um. Um. Turnstiles. (sometimes the ol' havarti cortex comes through!)

I think Simon's best is harder to pin down. Probably Graceland, although it's so popular it's hard to say that without evoking the wrath of the purists. Every album of his has absolute gems, and a couple of klunkers. Probably the worst is One Trick Pony, but I love "That's Why God Made the Movies."

Billy Joel's wording is much simpler than Simon's; he tends to build pictures by use of simple words and phrases, whereas Simon is more likely to go for the unusual turn of phrase or clever juxtaposition in his lyrics. Joel's melodies, on the other hand, tend to be more like the more complex forms of classical Western music, whereas simon's tend to be simpler and more folky.

But the plain truth is, I've kept up with Simon's output, whereas I've let Joel slide. Sometimes it just turns out that way.

Alex


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