My Top 1000 Songs #489: My Little Town

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

Here's a song from my childhood that has steadily grown on me over the decades.

As a 9-year-old kid first discovering pop music, Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" was one of the first Top 40 hits that I came to know from my local station, alongside other hits of 1975 from the Bay City Rollers, Sweet, Queen, Abba, etc. It was a fun little tune, with a cool snare signature and amusing lyrics, even if Paul only ticked off a few examples, far short of the promised 50, none of which sounded like terribly efficient ways to leave your lover.

But the more personally enduring single from 1975's Still Crazy After All These Years was "My Little Town," a thoughtful epic that moves from quiet piano ballad to booming anthem full of horns and a rousing refrain. It felt sweet and wistful, even if the lyrics were pretty damn dark and bitter and anything but nostalgic--"nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town." I think it's that dichotomy that makes it one of Simon's finest moments, an almost casually beautiful melody paired with such cutting imagery. "And after it rains there's a rainbow, and all of the colors are black." Paul goes emo!

The song marked a brief reunion with Art Garfunkel, who sang alongside his former musical partner (and the single was apparently included on his solo album the same year as well). As a 9-year-old kid, I didn't really know the context--I was a little familiar with Simon & Garfunkel (Bridge Over Troubled Water was among the small number of 8 track tapes owned by my non-musically-inclined parents), but it was a few years before that aspect of the track gave it some additional heft for me.

Live at a 2009 reunion show: