Nicholas Dawidoff profiles Paul Simon in the latest issue of Rolling Stone. The piece is not available on-line but here are a couple of cherce bits:
“One day not long ago, Donald Fagen, of Steely Dan, who has admired Simon’s work for decades but knows him only slightly, offered up a spontaneous theory of Simon’s childhood. ‘There’s a certain kind of New York Jew,’ Fagan began, “almost a stereotype, really, to whom music and baseball are very important. I think it has to do with the parents. The parents are either immigrants or first-generation Americans who felt like outsiders, and assimilation was the key thought–they gravitated to black music and baseball looking for an alternative culture. My parents forced me to get a crew cut; they wanted me to be an astronaut. I wouldn’t be surprised if all that’s true in Paul’s case.”
Baseball and black music? I can relate.
“One day when I am visiting Simon at the Brill Building, we go off to throw a baseball. Simon picks a guitar with his right hand, but on a baseball field, he goes the other way. ‘That’s something I remember about my father,’ he tells me. “I was five or six and we were having a catch. He got me a glove. A righty glove. I’d take it off to throw it back. He’d say, ‘No, no. We do it this way.’ Eventually he came into the house and told my mother, ‘Belle, we got a lefty!’ There’s incredible pleasure in throwing a ball. Having a catch with your dad is having a conversation. As you throw the ball back and forth it’s heavenly.”
I don’t have any fond memories of having a catch with my father–those were uncomfortable moments, filled with impatience, anger, and tears–but I loved having a catch with my younger brother (still do though I can’t remember the last time we had one). There is an intimate connection when you are having a good catch that is unspoken but powerful. The rhythm is easy, contemplative and soothing.
[Photo Credit: Bruce Davidson]