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Readers’ Poll: 10 Best Solo Paul Simon Songs

See what tune managed to top “You Can Call Me Al,” “Graceland” and “Still Crazy After All These Years”

Paul Simon songs, Best Paul Simon songs, Greatest Paul Simon songs

In honor of Paul Simon's new album 'Stranger to Stranger,' we asked our readers to select the best songs from his long solo career.


In the fall of 1962, a novelty song titled "The Lone Teen Ranger" credited to Jerry Landis reached Number 97 on the Billboard Hot 100 and then disappeared without a trace. It would be just about one of the most forgettable tunes to ever appear on the pop charts had its creator not reverted back to his birth name of Paul Simon and started penning some of the greatest songs of the 20th Century just a few years later. The early ones were cut with his childhood buddy Art Garfunkel, but in 1972 Paul Simon began a solo career that continues to this day. In honor of his upcoming 75th birthday and new album Stranger to Stranger, we asked our readers to pick the best songs from his solo career. Click through to see the results. Sadly, "The Lone Teen Ranger" didn't get any votes. 

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“Still Crazy After All These Years”

The title track to Paul Simon's 1975 LP was a moderate hit that just barely scraped the Top 40, but it gave him a perfect song to sing on Saturday Night Live. He's a close friend of show creator Lorne Michaels and has been on more times than some actual cast members, even meeting his wife Edie Brickell on the show's set. He sang "Still Crazy After All These Years" in a turkey outfit for the show's Thanksgiving episode in 1976, and then did it again for the show's 40th anniversary special in 2015. This time, he left the turkey suit at home. 

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“You Can Call Me Al”

Back in the 1970s, Paul Simon was at a party with his wife Peggy when French composer Pierre Boulez walked up to him and said, "Sorry, I have to leave, Al, and give my best to Betty." For years after that, Peggy and Harper called each other "Al" and "Betty" as a little inside joke. About a decade after Al and Betty divorced, the incident was ringing around his head when he penned the lyrics for the Graceland track "You Can Call Me Al." He shot a goofy video for it with Chevy Chase that VH1 played roughly 10,000 times that year, causing it to race up the charts. It remains one of Simon's signature songs – even if the lyrics come off like complete nonsense to most people. 

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The word "Graceland" was originally just a placeholder in Paul Simon's head until he could come up with a better word for his in-progress song. He was still reeling from the collapse of his marriage to Carrie Fisher and trying to make sense of it via music, but somehow or another the word "Graceland" wouldn't budge. "I couldn't replace it," he said. "I thought, 'Maybe I'm supposed to go to Graceland. Maybe I'm supposed to go on a trip and see what I'm writing about,' and I did." Reports vary about whether or not he took his young son Harper on the journey (as is stated in the lyrics) or even if the journey took place at all, but no matter what the truth is, he turned Elvis Presley's home into a symbol of hope and clarity. 

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Paul Simon has written a lot of great first lines to his songs, but nothing compares to "When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school it's a wonder I can think at all" from 1973's "Kodachrome." It's a song about looking back at the past with more than a hint of bitterness, and realizing that pictures don't quite capture the reality of days gone by. It was the first single from There Goes Rhymin' Simon and it shot to Number Two on the charts, firmly cementing him as a superstar even without that other guy by his side. It was a regular part of his setlist for many years, though he hasn't touched it since 2012. 

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