Longtime friend of the site Eric Herman released his third kids' album, Snow Day!, earlier this year. His new blog, Cool Tunes for Kids, is filled with thoughtful posts on other kids' music artists, famous and not, and what Herman finds worthwhile in their music. I thought he'd be a great artist to lead off this "How I Got Here" series (for more details, go here). Without further ado, then, here's Eric on Paul Simon's You're the One.
Paul Simon may be best known for his “and Garfunkel” years and his enormously successful Graceland album. But for me, his best album is 2000's You're the One. Being a big fan of Graceland, I picked up You're the One on a whim, thinking “ah, it's probably pretty good”. And on my first listen, that was the exact reaction I had. There was nothing necessarily innovative like Graceland's fusion of world music and pop, nor were there any standout hits like “You Can Call Me Al” or “Diamonds...” But it was intriguing enough, musically, and had some pretty interesting tunes, so I kept listening... and listening... and listening.
More than any other album I've heard, You're the One has layers that reveal themselves upon repeated listens. The words of a song like “Look at That” work both literally and metaphorically, and the music is both immediately engaging and also densely arranged with some cleverly involved percussion. The album is full of brilliantly poetic lyrics like these from the title track: “Nature gives us shapeless shapes/Clouds and waves and flame/But human expectation/Is that love remains the same”. There is also ample wit and humor evident on songs like “Old” and “Darling Lorraine”, and sometimes even delicate humor within songs that are otherwise serious. Tracks like “The Teacher”, “Love” and “Quiet” are deeply moving and a nice contrast to more energized songs like “Hurricane Eye”, “Look at That” and “You're the One”. And yet, the upbeat songs may be just as likely to generate goose bumps with the power of their sentiment.
You're the One makes me want to laugh, cry, love, learn, pray, mourn, sing and rejoice for the mysterious wonder that is life. I doubt anyone would hear my music (especially my kids' music) and think, “Oh, it sounds like Paul Simon”, but this album has been an enormous influence on me as an artist striving to color my world as vibrantly as possible.