Do you know a song that you can listen to on repeat, four or five times in a row, before you feel like switching to something else? I'm sure we all do. I have a good handful of them (mostly Bowie and Jens, surprise surprise), but one, surprisingly, is a Simon and Garfunkel song.
I discovered "My Little Town" somewhere around 2008, when Still Crazy After All These Years ended up in my iTunes library. Because of this, I always thought it was a solo Paul Simon work, not thinking hard enough about the obvious harmonies. Now that I've done some extensive research (Wikipedia for the win again), I realize, DUH, that's Simon AND Garfunkel, reunited in all their mid-seventies glory.
I'd also assumed it was an autobiographical song about Paul Simon himself, but in fact, he wrote it for his buddy Art. From Wikipedia:
"It originally was a song I was writing for Artie. I was gonna write a song for his new album, and I told him it would be a nasty song, because he was singing too many sweet songs. It seemed like a good concept for him."
And it is nasty — at least, as nasty as you can get when you're a folk singer. It's about the overwhelming need to get out of your small, bland town, away from the "dead and dying" and go do something on your own terms.
That's a big part of why I've always clung to this song, especially during my first couple years in New York. I fought hard to leave my small, boring town to come to this city. And while I wouldn't paint Deerfield as harshly as a color-less rainbow full of people with no imagination (we do have New England's oldest family fair, after all), I often felt restless growing up there. As soon as I knew about cities, and particularly New York City, I wanted out.
Saving my money
Dreaming of glory
Twitching like a finger on a trigger of a gun
Start with that reality, then lay on a slow, dramatic build, and you've got everything I want in a song. The song opens with light guitar and piano, lyrics almost at a whisper, but by the end swells into loud harmonies and joyous horns. By that point I'm always yelling along, tapping my feet and air-drumming, then inevitably pressing the back button to play it again.
Maybe you'll feel the same way: