SONG TITLE: 50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LOVER
PERFORMER: PAUL SIMON
SONGWRITER: PAUL SIMON
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1975
for a long time. In context, they are particularly expressive as a counter-emotion to the hurt of the verses; they represent the maybe even still sub-conscious motivation of the narrator in taking his troubles to a bar, though they become clear enough to him and us by the last verse.
The drums are cool, but they are just part of the subtle tang of the whole arrangement around it. Those single quiet jazzy chords through the verses, uuuummmm... seductively sultry. Then it slides oh so smoothly into the more directly erotic mode of that funky bass and those bent lead guitar notes. Ummmmm, what an urbane seduction. Marvin Gaye should have covered this.
I started with talking about the arrangement because it is so good and you've got to start somewhere, but that is still getting the cart ahead of the horse here. The hot rhythm section and harmonic touches wouldn't amount to much but for the fact they are dressing up a totally outstanding melody, as good as Paul Simon ever wrote - which is pretty
much to say as good as anyone at all.
The verses describe a state of sadness, longing and need. Listen to the desire in the melody of "and would you please explain about the 50 waaaaays..." It is a perfectly crafted emotional expression of the hurt giving way to healing sex described in the lyrics. Absolutely voluptuously sultry soul-filled craftwork.
As our humble narrator starts to see the wisdom of the sweet stranger's plan, his feelings of hurt and confusion over the wreckage of his ruined relationship give way to anticipation of the therapeutic release of a hot illicit fuck. As is common, the actual animalistic mechanics of the sex are less interesting than the foreplay that got you there. The
chorus is a good catchy fulfillment of the verse, but actually somewhat less musically interesting. This is rather unusual; you would usually expect that the chorus is the main point of interest. In this case, though, this is definitely an indication of the unusually high appeal of the verse, not any indication of weakness in the refrain.
Anyway, it is the sensual hurt in the verse that sets up the release of the chorus and makes it all really count.
Hop on the bus, Gus. That's an order.
Paul Simon Page
Music Sustains the Soul
More Things Home