Simon & Garfunkel from Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966)
“Do you know which word shows up most amongst the titles of the eight thousand songs I have on iTunes?” I said.
“Um, ‘the?’” Peggy said. “‘A?’”
“Other than articles and other super-common words.”
“Okay, other than ‘love.’”
“Is there anything else you’d like to eliminate before I continue guessing?”
“You’re right; that was a stupid way to start this conversation. It’s – other than ‘love’ – ‘home.’”
Peggy laughed. “That is so you – in two ways.” She laughed again.
“Really. One, that you’re such a nerd that you would actually know this kind of thing and, two, that you’ve always had a home fixation.”
“You don’t know this about yourself? No question about it – marriage, family, food. You’re all about that stuff.”
“Food is about home? You know, there are these businesses called ‘restaurants’ –”
“– Food is definitely about home for you. Remember who you’re talking to.”
Since I’d reconnected with Peggy, it wasn’t always easy to remember who I was talking to. Because we were so close a long time ago, did she know me in a way that more recent friends and associates didn’t? Or did she only know who I once was? She had me on the home thing, though.
“So, you’re saying that we can define ourselves by the titles of the songs we have on our computers? I think the word that shows up fourth most often – other than the common stuff, again – is ‘better.’ Does that mean I’m an incurable optimist?”
“I think you’re making a good case for this as a new form of analysis.”
I decided to pursue a different course of conversation. “This song came very early in Paul Simon’s run. He kept writing memorable, influential songs for nearly a quarter of a century – right through The Rhythm of the Saints. That got me thinking about something else I want to explore soon: whether or not you could pull together a good album from the songs an artist released after their peak-output period ended.”
“In other words, would an album of the best songs released by, say Tom Petty after Into the Great Wide Open be considered a major release?”
“Exactly. The answer to that one would be no, by the way.”
“Agreed. We’re gonna have fun with this one. So what about Paul Simon?”
“I don’t think so. After Rhythm he just dropped off the table. Did you listen to that album he released a few years ago? Ouch. And we don’t even want to consider the Capeman stuff.”
“Maybe he just ran out of things to say. It’s amazing that he had so much to say to begin with.”
“And ‘Homeward Bound’ was one of the best of them.”
“One of the best? Does that mean there’s more Paul Simon to come?”
“You’re not going to get me to reveal anything before it is time.”