Paul Simon- Boy In The Bubble
The excellent Zombielectroniq, who previous had to set me straight about Philip Glass, posted this. It is my opinion -and one I’ve attempted to support in discussing another of his songs with the same themes- that Simon is as brilliant a lyricist as anyone, perhaps in finest of all for his range of themes and easy evocation of complex ideas.
Some selections from this song’s prescient verses; it was released in 1986:
It was a slow day,
and the sun was beating
on the soldiers by the side of the road.
There was a bright light,
a shattering of shop windows;
the bomb in the baby carriage
was wired to the radio.
These are the days of miracle and wonder.
This is a long distance call.
The way the camera follows us in slow-mo,
the way we look to us all.
The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in a corner of the sky.
These are the days of miracle and wonder,
So don’t cry, baby, don’t cry, don’t cry.
Not solely the simultaneity of terrorism and “miracle and wonder” -the great twin hallmarks of our time, representative of asymmetry in political power, amorphous international conflict, fundamentalism and ideology, technology, wealth, and scientific progress- strikes me, but also the reference to “the way the camera follows us in slow-mo / the way we look to us all.”
The seeds of the Internet, of blogging and confessional graphomania and the constant preoccupation with how we look “to us all,” are there: all there, in the camera following us, in the camera we talk to when hurt, pretend isn’t there when putting on the show of ourselves. Then:
It’s: a turn-around jump shot.
It’s: everybody jump start.
It’s: every generation throws a hero up the pop charts.
Medicine is magical and magical is art:
think of the boy in the bubble
and the baby with the baboon heart.
And I believe
these are the days of lasers in the jungle,
lasers in the jungle somewhere.
Staccato signals of constant information,
a loose affiliation of millionaires
and billionaires and baby,
these are the days of miracle and wonder…
Culture is: the athlete transcending form, everyone jumping when a car backfires, the same sort of succession of celebrities decade after decade. The Internet is: staccato, unilateral, monologic information -constant, unending- and our proximity to millionaires and billionaires in their Twitter feeds and blog posts and our sense of connection, illusory as ever. Technology is, as Clarke said, indistinguishable from magic: interspecies, intraspecies, genetic recombination, the future, the future!
Magic life-saving, magic life-taking: baboon hearts mean primate mores, animal killing from lasers amidst the fauna we used to wander naked through, lasers in space, missiles from the clouds!
All this miracle and wonder, all this violence and atavism: “Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry!”
The intimidatingly brilliant Mills writing about one of the best songs on my favorite album. I’ll read his blog and then go back and look at what I was working on and it’s sort of like comparing Miles Davis to this fucking guy. Or Bill & Ted. But let’s see if I can talk like Mills for a paragraph. Here goes.
Bill & Ted. It was - indeed - an Excellent Adventure, sure. But for that they did not make a threequel made me dash out and knee a Marxist. As the poet Dylan Thomas once said, “rage against the dying of the light”; you see (though), one should remove the words “against” through “light” and leave the word rage (ray*jê) for yes, Dana, the truth is out there - in that sentence - the sheer beautiful power of words! Words! Truth is: a sandwich, a clowns horn, a book of matches from a blind mans brothel, seven dirty pillars, humpback, artichoke heart attack, rum fisting, terror dogs, and feral mustaches. Lies are: cat rimmers, ne’er-do-wells and ruffians, Bill Paxton, Judge Judy, Cheri Oteri, and fuck biscuits. Also: this fucking guy.