What Doesn’t Kill You, Only Makes You Stranger (Paul Simon, Stranger to Stranger review)

Ever watched a movie JUST for the soundtrack? No? Well me neither, but there are tons of posts on the internet which claim that exact practice is worthwhile, and I will strongly disagree.

However, I do believe that a great soundtrack can help define and reinforce the ideas of a film. And the reason for this is that it usually comes down to the storytelling ability of the musician(s) behind the scenes.

This week we review an album that I could very easily see in a soundtrack in the near future.

 

 

 

Paul Simon – Stranger To Stranger
released June 3, 2016
****** 9/10

Paul-Simon-Stranger-To-Stranger

Paul Simon is an American musician, singer, songwriter and sometimes actor. He got his start as part of the duo known as Simon & Garfunkel, which performed together for six years in the 1960’s before splitting up at the height of their success – Simon is known to have been the predominant writer of Simon & Garfunkel and should be especially proud of Mrs. Robinson, The Sound of Silence, and Bridge over Troubled Water, which were all no.1 singles in their time.

He has also successfully managed a solo career, including 12 Grammy awards, a Lifetime Achievement award, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and various other accolades.

Stranger to Stranger is Simon’s 13th studio outing and what I would consider a fantastic representation of him as an artist, given that I haven’t really followed his work. At. All.

Yes, my personal experiences with Paul Simon have mostly revolved around movie soundtracks that sampled his work in Simon & Garfunkel, so that means I’ve enjoyed the tranquillizer scene in Old School all the more thanks to The Sound of Silence, was bemused by Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate while Mrs. Robinson played and played with him, and even Bridge Over Troubled Water has a movie title named after it, it is the quintessential S&G song, after all.

But I think that recognizing a well made and ambitious album has less to do with knowing the artist’s catalogue of work and more to do with understanding the broader soundscape that is music.

Songs range from the hilarious opener The Werewolf, which is about a midwest murder in suburbia, to the lightly spread Wristband (with hints of darkness), to the very direct phone problems of In A Parade.

Though one track that manages to stick out like a sore thumb for me is Cool Papa Bell.

It’s incredibly absurd and paints a portrait of a man who has lost touch with reality, and it’s full of swear words. Which is kind of hard to imagine if you think about Simon’s vocals for too long. He lays it on in his typical indie folk style, but the lyrics combined with the world music tone create a very interesting and satirical final product.

And he takes life experiences as well to produce these songs, which tells me Paul Simon isn’t quite done experimenting like The Riverbank, which is the result of visiting vets at a Boston hospital.

And then we have the closing track, Insomniac’s Lullaby. Which is my personal favourite. It’s silly, sincere, sweet, and surprisingly sinister. And yes, I apologize for all of the alliteration, but Paul Simon says so, so I shall share. Now I’m done.

Should you listen to this record? Hell yes, you should. Paul Simon may be in his 70s but just as relevant today as he was 50 years ago and that shouldn’t make him a stranger to anyone.

 

 

 

Fortunately for Paul Simon, his glory days are not behind him. He is still creating music that can entertain and tell a wonderful story. Which is why it should surprise no one at this point that Mike Nichols knew what he was doing when he grabbed Simon & Garfunkel hot off the press and inserted it into his movie. Hopefully there is an indie more or 3 out there that will sample from this album and further cement it’s value in pop culture. And that’s all the theories I’ve got for today, see you tomorrow with a review that should be in a zoo.

Tim!

Old School (timotheories presents: Cross Talk)

Do you ever look at all of people who wear shirts with the statement “old school” emblazoned across the front, and shake your head?

I remember a stretch of time when it was a very popular type of slang, especially with people in my generation. It was used to refer to gaming, music, and fashion especially. But pretty much anything that came from another era was subject to the old school moniker when brought up in conversation.

There was even a movie about this idea. And it was conveniently called Old School. At the time that this movie came out, I had just turned 18 years old. And in a fury of wanting to be an adult, participate in adult culture and do adult things, I went to see Old School in the theatre.

At the time, I thought I had hit comedy gold. It was quotable, it was rude, it had nudity, and I was finally part of a club I had wished I was a part of for years. 18 year old Tim was stupid, and I hated his motivations.

Hate is a strong word, and I really really really dislike using it. But it’s true.

I wanted to like old school things, and convey my taste, my wisdom, and my virtue. And I thought that watching a movie about men in their 40s who go back to college to start a fraternity, get drunk and sleep with coeds, was a pathway to this wisdom.

Appropriating without contributing, participating without earning anything.

Hence, I dislike the term “old school.” But that’s just the surface reason, let’s go deeper.

It also seemed to me to be a lazy way of contributing to a conversation without actually offering anything up. Equivalent to when people throw the word fuck around haphazardly or follow every other sentence with it.

The height of the “old school” slang for me was in 2003, when trucker hats were cool.

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But Coolio and LL Cool J were not. Cry me a river right?

B-Real - Hit Em High (ft. Busta Rhymes,Method Man & Coolio) [TV]

Sorry I thought of a quip and wanted to share it.

Anyway, as I mentioned, 2003 was a fun time. With lots of gentrification and appropriation going on in popular culture. We were just starting to define this trend and eventually landed the plane with a term called the hipster.

In this period of time, everyone wanted to address this overwhelming issue of postmodernism embodied in fashion. The hipsters took from every era possible and somehow managed to upset every niche culture in the process.

It was a fashionable form of nihilism and it stuck around for a quite a while.

Nihilism, subversion, and anti-establishment anti-hero types have always existed, but we needed to re-define and send this out into the world ourselves.

And because of the post-modernist movement, hipsterdom moved with the contemporary ideas of the day.

But as we hit the 2010’s, hipsters and attacking everything became faux pas. Or at least I stopped worrying about it myself. You see, I realized, and I think most artists are started to as well, that we need to move past post-modernism if we really want to create anything worthwhile.

Sure it can be fun to deconstruct something and take details away from it, but real joy can only be found in embracing and sharing your vision with the world.

Which is why I think that modern craft is the next big thing in the art world, in the arts, and in popular culture. You see, I have this theory. My theory is that every generation needs to separate itself from the one previous, but because life works in cycles, and we reference what comes before us, children are often the spiritual successors of their grandparents ideas and belief systems.

My parents (and the parents of all generation x and generation y kids) represent ideas of deconstruction, excess, and dichotomies that exist in the  extreme. That’s not to say that they are extremists, but it was a period of carving out and making broad strokes to deal with the world. In anticipation of globalization, the internet, and major issues of human rights.

I think that the next generations focus will be on nuanced issues, on craft, on communication, and on socialization. This is why more and more people are turning to small businesses again, why artwork is becoming about skillfulness again, and why we are tackling social media.

I’m going to end today’s post by offering a promise to you dear readers.

A promise in anticipation of a new year and new challenges! Next year, I am going to unveil a new component of the timotheories mantle called Cross Talk. On Cross Talk, myself and my co-host will be addressing themes we see in film (and eventually other realms)and using those themes to offer you up much needed insights.

It can be a lot of fun to learn about production details, fan theories, and celebrity gossip, but that is not the intent of Cross Talk. Cross Talk promises to be the kind of discussion you would have in a bar or on a couch with your close friends about a topic and provide you with a fresh perspective on a universal storytelling medium!

So stay tuned because we aren’t going to appropriate we are going to celebrate and bring something new to the table!

And that’s all of the theories I have today.

Tim!