This second half of a diptypch is presented first. Both halves discuss the two halves of the brain, repeating the idea that "the left side... dominates the right." The left side being the logical, rational, objective half, while the right is creative, emotional, and subjective. (Similar to the idea of, respectively, Yang and Yin.)
By the language, this one seems to be the logical half, at least at first. It begins with the image of "the smartest people in the word" being "gathered" to-- and here is the key word-- "analyze" a broken love affair.
The team is as thorough as one from the forensic shows now overwhelming our televisions. The analysts didn't just look at the couple's evidence, they scrutinized it; "They sat among our photographs/ Examined every one," which took until sunrise. The result? "In the end, we compromised," a traditionally logical conclusion.
But then comes the chorus, which is only the line "Maybe I think too much," repeated. Maybe, even after all of this analytic work, analysis is not the way to approach a broken relationship, or a broken heart. Maybe overanalysis was the issue that caused some of the problem to begin with.
In "Slip-Slidin' Away," a father comes "a long way" to explain himself to his son, only to leave the son to sleep. This time, the father is more demonstrative: "In the night, my father came to me/ And held me to his chest./ He said, 'There's not much more that you can do/ Go and get some rest.'"
Getting some rest after a night of rehashing a broken love might be the logical thing to do, but only because it recognizes that hearts (and bones) have their limits. The father does more for this man than did all of "the smartest people in the world," because he does not try to analyze a problem. He simply tries to care for his son.
The son responds "Yeah, maybe I think too much." Maybe, the speaker realizes, the right response is not to overthink how overthinking his relationship led to his spending the night overthinking how it collapsed. Maybe he should just go to bed.
The song is brief, but it contains a powerful message. This time, Simon (if he is the speaker) is not "weary to his bones" after a "long, long day" of working songwriting or touring or running his office or even "weary from waiting down in Washington DC."
He is emotionally exhausted from dealing with the pain of his failed relationship. He wants to exhibit some emotion, which cannot be avoided after poring over one photo album after another, filled with images and memories. Yet all night was spent "examining" the pictures, using the wrong side of his brain. His brain, furthermore, and not his heart.
Maybe one can think "too much." Maybe sometimes the right thing to do-- the logical thing to do-- is to feel. Now it is time to "get some rest" and let the right side, the side of emotion, "labor through the long and speechless night," spinning out dreams.
This at first seems a negative thing to the speaker. In both the (b) and (a) halves of this song, the right side is said to have to "work hard" or "labor" all night, as if this were a punishment for allowing itself to be dominated.
But in both songs it's remarked that "they say" one side dominates. In these songs-- and we will have to conclude this discussion when (a) shows up two songs from now-- this conventional wisdom seems to be challenged.
So which side does Simon come down on? We'll have to see. In the meantime, don't think too much about it.
Next Song: Song About the Moon