"The Afterlife"

The narrative wit is sharp on the second track from Paul Simon's forthcoming So Beautiful or So What (due in April): Some dude gets to heaven, fills out forms, waits in line, and tries, unsuccessfully, to mack on some girl. And when it comes time to explain his mortal life to the Almighty, he can only splutter rock & roll gibberish. "Lord, is it 'be bop a lula'?" the unnamed sap implores. "Or 'ooo papa doo'?" Packed with internal rhymes, Simon's verses flow like butter over supple lines by Cameroonian guitar master Vincent Nguini and Jim Oblon's syncopated grooves. Simon says So Beautiful or So What reminds him of his sparsely produced solo debut, 1972's Paul Simon. But in its mix of wry, mellow pop and African guitars, "The Afterlife" echoes Graceland. It's world-music fusion that's as off-handedly awesome as a kimchi hot dog.

Listen to "The Afterlife":

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From The Archives Issue 1125: March 3, 2011
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