Paul Simon And Bob Boilen, Talking 'Bout Werewolves

I ask the Lord
For proof of love
Love is all I seek
Love is all I seek
And when at times my words desert me
Music is the tongue I speak

If you don't love this conversation between NPR's Bob Boilen (host of the "All Songs Considered" podcast)and one of America's greatest living lyricists, Paul Simon, I can't help you. I can only pray for you, that your stony heart might be changed.

Here's "The Werewolf," the song they're analyzing for much of the conversation. It's rhythmically engaging and melodically and instrumentally ...peculiar enough to be distracting at times, like so much of Simon's solo work. But the word-smithing is brilliant. (Musically, he's never been better than he was with Garfunkel. But lyrically? He's never been better than now.)

And while we're on a Paul Simon kick, here's his new album, "Stranger to Stranger," streaming in its entirety through NPR Music's "First Listen" feature. I'm not sure how long it'll last/how many days they'll be streaming it, so listen while it's hot. It's Perfectly Simon-y.

At first, I was going to say "classic Simon," but one of the great things about his work is that it's so emphatically unstatic. There are certain sounds that keep cropping up, sure. But lots of things we've never heard before, either. (A hint or two of language, just FYI.)

That's pretty much the game throughout Stranger To Stranger, Simon's 13th solo album. It's more opaque than Simon's recent works, less forthright and declarative, less locked onto linear tracks. Its tales unfold in shards and mumbled asides, oddly unsettling repeated phrases and strange prophecies. These don't always seem haunting at the start, but they become that way — as the details fill in, or don't, as Simon's telegraphic shorthand implies multiple meanings. You can't read the lyrics to these songs and expect to "get" them; you have to surrender to the slurpy backward vocals, the sharp crack of drumsticks, the whole experience.

Only got time for one? "Proof  of Love," which is beautiful-and-weird. And poignant.

Attribution(s): "Simon at the 9:30 Club" by Matthew Straubmuller (imatty35) via Wikipedia/CC BY 2.0.