Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al

Year :
Vampire Weekend / David Byrne / Rusted Root

As we saw yesterday, names are weird things. You can name a cat, or a dog, or your car (yeah, “your car”), but it has always felt super-weird to me that we can name a human. You can go conventional, and have a child who feels blended in and bored. You can give them a unique name you love, and have a child who forever resents the youthful obsession that gave them the oh-so-tasteful name Cullen. Or you can go totally outlandish, and risk your children getting the everloving piss beat out of them by the kids with parents who think real men punch things they don’t understand. Jon Davis of Korn named his son Pirate, for example, clearly forgetting that he is only famous because he channeled his anger and rage out of many awful youth experiences into a musical career. One of those experiences? Kids relentlessly teasing him. Sorta like they’d do to a kid named PIRATE.

I’m lucky in that my name falls pretty much in the middle, but I’ve more “come to terms” with it than “like” it. Alexander is simply too long a name. Too many syllables. Alex, much as I love the “X”, also ends in a harsh, weird sound. And Al, well, it feels a bit like a plumber. No variant of the name feels honestly me. But then, no other name feels more natural. It would be a fake moniker, a fake identity. Of course, as you may be able to guess given the song, most of my oldest friends have settled on Al. Which is fine. As is Alex. If you want to pull out the full name, be my guest. And at least one person calls me Ossip. That’s life. AJ and Xander, however, are both options which have been known to influence my eventual distancing myself from you.

Speaking of names, as a child I was convinced Chevy Chase was Paul Simon. Can’t imagine why. Oh, yeah, by the way, that’s not his real name either. When you’re older, and a comic, you can give yourself a stupid new name and that’s fine. It probably doesn’t hurt to be a man-mountain as well. I don’t think of Chevy Chase as threatening, but then, I’ve never had to look up at him.

This song is probably the worst song off of one of the best albums of all time (which, given how good it is, says a lot), but it is goddamn fun. That horn riff makes you want to dance, and most certainly distracts you from the fact that the lyrics are about overcoming existential crises. I just blew your minds, didn’t I? It’s OK. I still want to dance, too. I don’t think Paul is that concerned about it, either, given the upbeat, playful delivery and the slapstick-comic video.

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Alex Lupica (@Alex_Soundtrack) has been in love with music since he was a toddler, despite its infidelities. (Really, music? Nu-metal? How could you!). Alex is Editor-in-Chief at The Daily Soundtrack.

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