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Paul Simon – Hearts & Bones (1983)

March 14, 2019

[Album 638/1001]

If someone suggested that you were “unintrusive” – would you take it as a compliment?

I’d like to think that I would.

I’m the opposite of annoying or bothersome?

What’s not to like!


Perhaps not all musicians dream of such high praise, preferring adjectives like “awe-inspiring.”Hearts_and_Bones

But as a listener, sometimes I don’t want the music to inspire so much awe that I’m incapable of accomplishing anything else while listening.

Apart from Allergies (as someone with allergies, I was pleased to see such subject matter addressed through song!), despite buying this LP & hearing both of its sides many times, I’m not sure if I could name any of the other agreeably unintrusive tracks.

And I can’t say I’ve felt any annoying/bothersome buyers’ remorse following this purchase either!


Verbalize the Positive

A friend saw him in concert last year & said he was terrific!

From → 1980s

  1. How many listens did you give this album? I won’t claim it’s a forgotten classic and it does take several listens for some songs to shine through, but it’s worth the effort…especially for “René And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War” and “The Late Great Johnny Ace.” Did you know it was initially intended as a Simon & Garfunkel studio album but when Simon decided that wasn’t the case he erased all of Garfunkel’s contributions. I wonder what it would have sounded like if the reunion went on as planned.

    • I just learned that about Garfunkel when I went to find a picture of the album cover – I’d be curious to hear those contributions too!
      I think I listened 4 or 5 times so far, and in fairness, it never received my completely undivided attention. So they may shine through yet!

  2. It’s one of the most two geared albums I can think of – some of the songs are trivial (‘Cars Are Cars’ especially), but when it’s good, it’s amazing. Along with the two that Rich Kamerman posted, I also really enjoy ‘Hearts and Bones’ and ‘Train in the Distance’.

    • I like that term – two-geared albums. I think you might have introduced me to that term through a Surf’s Up review? It applies there too!

      • I don’t know if I coined it or read it from somewhere. I like that the 1001 albums list included some two-geared albums – sometimes it’s good to ignore the bad stuff to get to the really good stuff.

        There are a couple of Paul Simon albums I’d rank higher though – 1973’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, which sounds the most like Simon and Garfunkel. And 1990’s Rhythm of the Saints, a very strong followup to Graceland, which mixes Brazilian rhythms with African guitars.

      • One of my friends adores Rhythm of the Saints too – he ranks it as Simon’s finest!

  3. D’you know, I think you are right. I’ve had this for quite a while, listened a few times, noted the songcraft and understated style of the singer, reflected on his skill and consistency over the years… and promptly forgotten the thing.

    • … and now I’ve read others’ comments I’m thinking, “oh, yeah, those are good songs. Maybe I should spin it again.”
      Maybe it’s the McCartney syndrome. The best bits are so memorable that the merely excellent slips past unnoticed.

      • What a fabulous way of describing Sir Paul – I’ve argued he makes things seem so effortless that he can occasionally infuriate listeners by appearing to not be trying at all. But I prefer your syndrome description!

    • I think it’s that understated delivery that makes him eminently listenable for me. Though it seems to have the unintended (and unanticipated) consequence that since I find it so instantly agreeable, I stop listening critically or carefully as I’m already convinced!

  4. hanspostcard permalink

    I have always loved this album.

    • One of his three solo ones on the 1001 (with the 1972 self-titled and Graceland) – safe to say he went 3 for 3!

  5. When I think of Paul Simon i think of how pissed off Steve Berlin is with him..
    Thats what I think of….CONFLICT…haha

    • After the stellar job he did on Phantom Power, I could never stay mad at Steve Berlin!

      • Berlin and Los lobos supposedly helped shape the Graceland album but got no acknowledgement with the final album….

  6. I rarely enjoy listening to Simon. I admire the songcraft, but I’m rarely moved enough to choose to listen to him. Even with Garfunkel present. I just can’t engage with the music. Or it doesn’t engage with me. Does that make sense? I’m not hating on the guy, just not connecting.

    • It makes perfect sense – I think I have a similar appreciation for, yet lack of engagement with, some other artists.

  7. This was originally going to be a Simon & Garfunkel album (following up their Central Park reunion), but they decided the songs weren’t right for the two of them.

    Overall, to my ears, while not a great album, it has its moments. The Late Great Johnny Ace, for instance, is a great song – one of my favorite solo Simon songs, in fact. The title song is good, too.

    • Thanks for the comments Jeff – I think I’ll have to revisit this LP with my undivided attention to pick up on some of those standout moments!

  8. I’m probably gonna be the odd man out, here, but I’ve never liked this guy. There, I said it. I’m glad it was good enough for you, though.

    • I remember you had a post about a few things that aren’t your cuppa (another was covers of Hallelujah) – I can’t recall if it was solo Simon or with Garfunkel, but I remember that you weren’t a fan. Though I also recall you got 500 points when he was featured in the artist of the week, so that’s a bonus you knew enough about him without actually listening to him!

      • Yeah that was one of those things where knowing about him is fairly inescapable, but whether it’s with Garfunkel or solo I just can’t get there.

        The only redeeming thing about him was he married Princess Leia, but even that didn’t last.

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