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Paul Simon

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One Trick Pony

 

    Paul Simon's One-Trick Pony is a morose little art film about a minor Sixties pop star, Jonah Levin, who blows his only chance for a comeback by refusing to let a hack producer (played knowingly by Lou Reed) "commercialize" him. Jonah's fading career is based on a fluke antiwar hit, "Soft Parachutes," that's similar in tone to Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence." Indeed, the character of Jonah is clearly Simon's image of himself as he might have ended up had "The Sound of Silence" been his lone hit (the movie's title is a sardonic... Read More

euphemism for a one-hit wonder). This moody, downbeat film is part road movie and part tribute to the Woody Allen school of Manhattan angst. Yet at its center is a question that Allen wouldn't dream of asking: Is the pop life just for kids? After Jonah's estranged wife contemptuously suggests that he's too old at thirty-four to want to be Elvis Presley, the singer meekly defends his commitment to music by retorting, "It's what I do."

One-Trick Pony's soundtrack album explains exactly what Jonah Levin-Paul Simon does, and its ten songs carefully weigh the pros and cons of taking rock & roll seriously when one's well on the way to middle age. But Simon offers no definite conclusions. At the end of the film, Jonah gives up music to become a full-time provider for his family, and we sense he's giving up the only work that will ever mean anything to him. Throughout the movie, Simon keeps the emotional lid screwed on tight. His anger at the artist-hating boobs and barracudas who run the radio stations and record companies is carefully muted. Instead of expressing bitterness at realizing that he'll never be another Elvis, Simon accepts his disappointment with sorrow and resignation.

The soundtrack's two major songs, "Ace in the Hole" and "Late in the Evening," illustrate what Jonah is leaving behind by "growing up" – i.e., what he can't bring himself to express when he states, "It's what I do." These guitar-based, uptempo numbers (that hark back to early Simon hits) both go for the essence of the pop mystique.

"Ace in the Hole" is a sly rock-gospel composition that combines the martial drumming of "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" with the gospel exuberance of "Gone at Last." Lyrically and musically, the song describes a journey toward salvation, with each verse suggesting a possible answer–Jesus, money, rationalism – before hitting the bull's-eye with rock & roll. Along the way, Paul Simon and his hot band (including members of Stuff) present an abbreviated dictionary of soul, touching several distinct R&B grooves, each looser than the last. Trading lead vocals with keyboardist Richard Tee, Simon gradually "learns" soul, so that by the end of the tune, his hip argot has lost its self-consciousness. You can hear him find his salvation in rock.

In "Late in the Evening," Simon compiles flashbacks of the moments that made him fall in love with pop mus



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Memorabilia
  Artist   Title   Format   Condition   Seller Price    
  Paul Simon   One Trick Pony, Jackie Gleason - People Magazine 11/5/80
Us
  Memorabilia   Music and Vi
United States
  $20.00     Details

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