Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War
Cars Are Cars
The Late Great Johnny Ace - Paul Simon, Glass, Philip
One of Paul Simon's most accomplished albums, Hearts & Bones is also among his least appreciated, a commercial disappointment at the time of its release due more to Simon's darker themes than to any discernible decline in ... more »his powers as a songwriter or instincts as a producer. The best songs here are among his most nakedly self-referential, from the bittersweet title song, sifting through the ashes of his failed marriage, to the self-recriminating "Think Too Much (a)" (as if to prove the point, he includes two songs with the title) and the fatalistic "Train in the Distance." "René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog after the War" is a polished gem, both a musical analogue to the artist's dead- pan surrealism and a unique love song, and "The Late Great Johnny Ace" links the slain doo-wopper to the slain John Lennon. If there were justice in the set's cool reception, it was Simon's subsequent decision to ignore commercial stratagems altogether--a leap that yielded his next, groundbreaking album, Graceland. --Sam Sutherland« less
One of Paul Simon's most accomplished albums, Hearts & Bones is also among his least appreciated, a commercial disappointment at the time of its release due more to Simon's darker themes than to any discernible decline in his powers as a songwriter or instincts as a producer. The best songs here are among his most nakedly self-referential, from the bittersweet title song, sifting through the ashes of his failed marriage, to the self-recriminating "Think Too Much (a)" (as if to prove the point, he includes two songs with the title) and the fatalistic "Train in the Distance." "René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog after the War" is a polished gem, both a musical analogue to the artist's dead- pan surrealism and a unique love song, and "The Late Great Johnny Ace" links the slain doo-wopper to the slain John Lennon. If there were justice in the set's cool reception, it was Simon's subsequent decision to ignore commercial stratagems altogether--a leap that yielded his next, groundbreaking album, Graceland. --Sam Sutherland
Honest And Revealing Album From A Master Songwriter
Carol Alaniz | near Detroit, Michigan | 01/15/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It was a surprise to me how revealing Paul Simon was in this album. Always a private man, Paul chose to let the listener see the progression of his relationship with Actress Carrie Fisher, from meeting, falling in love, marriage, the strains, the sad breakup, and divorce. The title track is achingly honest: "Love like lightning, shaking 'till it moans" and "Why won't you love me for who I am, what I am?--That's not the way the world works, baby."--one can just about hear his pain. The album's not the best in terms of production--the sound is not the best--but with other songs "Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog, After The War" and "The Late Great Johnny Ace" (about Johnny Ace, JFK, and John Lennon) it is very well crafted in terms of imagery--Paul is a poet, not just a songwriter, who is capable of putting emotion in the simplest turn of a phrase. "Train In The Distance" is simple, but wide open: "From time to time, he tipped his heart/But each time she withdrew/Everbody loves the sound of a train in the distance/Everybody thinks it's true." No other album Paul has recorded since has been so straight-out revealing. Measured against his other previous albums--Grammy winner "Still Crazy after These Years" and his self-titled debut solo album "Paul Simon"--"Heart And Bones" was considered a commerical flop by music biz standards. Don't let that stop you. Borrow this from a friend. If you happen to find this CD in the bargain bin of your local music store, buy it!"
Paul Simon's best album?
Bill R. Moore | Oklahoma, USA | 07/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album was a commercial letdown, and is not normally mentioned early on when people think of Paul Simon. That said, it's an overlooked masterpiece, and just might be his best album. In addition to some great and very inventive music (Paul being caught here between the melancholy electric piano-led ballads of Still Crazy After All These Years and the musically ground-breaking Graceland), this is the album where Simon's enigmatic lyricism really came to the forefront (who else would write a song about allergies?.) One can tell merely from looking at the song titles that Paul was attempting something rather off-beat here - and he succeeds. The lyrics are not abstract, however: they're more of, as the editorial review says so well "dead beat surrealism." Some of the songs (the aforementioned Allergies, which features some awesome guitar work from Al Di Meola; the very strange When Numbers Get Serious; and the semi-hilarous but borderline facetious Cars Are Cars) are very lyrically strange, and one may well question their meaning - or intention. It's always good to hear such clever and well-crafted lyrics, however - regardles of their intent or meaning. That said, some of the other songs (such as the title track, Train In The Distance, and others) show Simon laid emotionally bare, and are great songs that touch the heart, as well as the mind and the soul. Rene and Georgette Margritte With Their Dog After The War and The Late Great Johnny Ace (which features an excellent musical coda from the great Philip Glass) are flat-out masterpieces. Hearts and Bones is an emotional, complex, and challenging album from Paul Simon that is not an easy listen. Like most great albums, it takes some time to get used to and some time to get into. The album, though, is well worth your time and effort. It is Paul Simon's masterpiece."
An under-appreciated masterpiece
Steve S. | Roswell, GA USA | 12/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's been said many times that Hearts and Bones gets lost in the shuffle of Paul Simon's recordings. I couldn't agree more. This is an album of beauty and wit and longing and love. For my money there may not be two more powerful songs of love, and love lost, than Hearts and Bones and Train in the Distance. I still get shivers when I hear Simon sing "You take two bodies and twirl them into one...their hearts and their bones, oh and they won't come undone." How stunning, and how beautiful. And then "Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance, everybody thinks its true." I've heard that train in the distance and thought it was true, so the song has particular meaning for me.Both versions of Think Too Much are excellent. And of course, Johnny Ace. Still brings tears to my eyes.If you don't have this album, buy it...you will not regret it."
Simon's kind of a jerk, so this good stuff got overlooked
John Stodder | livin' just enough | 03/06/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the album that was originally supposed to be a Simon and Garfunkle album. The beloved duo regrouped in the early 80s for a show in Central Park, and then this album. Only, after it was done, Simon decided he wanted it to be a solo album and erased all of Garfunkel's vocals. That's the story that got out, anyway, and the bad publicity that went with it, in my mind, sunk the album, because who would want to be associated with such a brutal hosing. S & G may seem like a nostalgia act today, but people loved them; imagine if Paul and John got together, recorded an album, and then Paul erased John's contributions and put it out as a solo album. That's what happened here.Too bad, too, because this is a worthy album, the final expression of Simon's initial, pre-Third World, solo style. Lots of electric piano, understated and tasteful percussion, lovely vocal arrangements, and insightful, confessional lyrics somewhere between Robert Lowell and Woody Allen. "Rene and Georgette Magritte" is one of the major highlights, surreal and intriguing, blending Dada with Doowop. I also love "Train in the Distance" and the title song. Very worth getting!"
Sweet, melancholy and somehow comforting
John Stodder | 09/22/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A professional musician, I listen to more classical music than anything else. But the other night when I had a sinus headache and couldn't sleep, this is the album I reached for. There's something infinitely reassuring about the sound of Paul Simon's voice that takes you beyond his finely crafted lyrics and spun-out melodies; the words and the tunes are merely a vehicle for the essential melancholy and musing that defines him. I recommend without reservation not only this album, but everything else he's written."