Sunday, October 23, 2011

NUMBER 1 ALBUMS: PAUL SIMON - STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

Still Crazy After All These Years
Artist: Paul Simon
Title: Still Crazy After All These Years
Year: 1975
Weeks #1: One
Label: Warner Bros.
Producers: Paul Simon and Phil Ramone
Track listing: Still Crazy After All These Years / My Little Town / I Do It For Your Love / 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover / Night  Game / Gone at Last / Some Folks' Lives Roll Easy / Have a Good Time / You're Kind / Silent Eyes.

After the dissolution of Simon & Garfunkel, Paul Simon launched a successful solo career. His self-titled 1972 debut reached number four, as did the single "Mother and Child Reunion." His 1973 follow-up album, There Goes Rhymin' Simon, spent two weeks at number two, but was unable to knock George Harrison's Living in the Material World from the top. While 1974's Paul Simon in Concert/Live Rhymin' stalled at number 33, Simon's third studio effort would prove to be historic on two counts: It would go on to become his first Number One solo album and it contained his first recording with Art Garfunkel since the duo's split in 1969.

The song, titled "My Little Town," was included on both Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years and Garfunkel's Breakaway. "It was at a time when there had been enough separation and time between the two of them," says co-producer Phil Ramone. "The competition was not important, and as it has been proved over and over gain, they have always been friends. Artie wanted a more up tune on his album. He and Paul had met and talked about it and Paul felt that this was the tune that could be shared well between the two of them."

Garfunkel wasn't the only special guest to turn up on Still Crazy. Phoebe Snow and the Jessy Dixon Singers were featured on the gospel-flavored "Gone at Last," a track originally written as a duet for Bette Midler. Says Ramone, "That was a great lesson for me and for Paul. It started out as a song that had been recorded too slow. We tried to fix it and fix it, then finally he looked at me and said, 'We should never do this. We should just recut that track.' And that was the method in which Paul and I worked from there on out. We went back and recut it live, but we laugh at that now, because we both knew that we cut it too fast, after struggling with it being too slow."

Another guest was saxophonist Michael Brecker on the jazz-oriented "Some Folks' Lives Roll Easy." Says Ramone, "Everyone in the world on the musical side knows about that solo. It was one of those great first-take things. Both Paul and I came from the school of immediacy."

Paul Simon
The album's best-known track, however, is "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," Simon's own darkly humorous take on his divorce from his first wife, Peggy, and his first Number One solo single. It began as a series of rhymes Simon sang to his son Harper in the bathtub. Later, in the studio, "Paul was screwing around with a little drum machine, mixing a samba with some other beat," says Ramone. "At the time, [drummer] Steve Gadd was out in the studio warming up, doing military paradiddles and Paul just loved it. That just changed the whole groove of the song."

The album's title ballad and "Have a Good Time" were written for the Warren Beatty film Shampoo, but Beatty passed on them. Missing out on the film tie-in didn't hurt Simon's record sales, however. The inclusion of Simon & Garfunkel tracks in The Graduate may have been a key in launching his career, but by 1975 Simon was a huge star in his own right, and Still Crazy After All These Years hit the summit in its seventh week on the chart.

THE TOP FIVE
Week of December 6, 1975
1. Still Crazy After All These Years, Paul Simon
2. Red Octopus, Jefferson Starship
3. Windsong, John Denver
4. Rock of the Westies, Elton John
5. Chicago IX—Chicago's Greatest Hits, Chicago

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