Monday, December 12, 2011

Shelter of Your Arms

Some of this song became "When Numbers Get Serious." The rest was unreleased until Simon included the song as a bonus track on his re-release of Hearts and Bones.

"Wrap me, wrap me, wrap me do/ In the shelter of your arms... I won't do you no harm," is more or less all that transferred to "Numbers." The line "I am ever your volunteer" was first "I'm an extraordinary individual," which aside from being a bit too egotistical for a protestation of love doesn't "scan" all that well.

Much of the song is, like its title, largely cliches: "I won't tell you no lies," "When I'm in the mood," "halfway around the block," "stop the clock," and "textbook case."

Then there are series of double takes. "I won't tell you no lies/ If you don't want me to./ But if you want me to..." Will he lie? In a manner of speaking: "If you want me to, I'll lie/ In the shelter of your arms." (In the words of today's teens, "I see what you did there...")

Here is another-- involving a phrase "deny the obvious" that shows up, years later, as part of "The Obvious Child." Here, it is part of this passage: "I could deny the obvious/ I could rest my case/ And I don't rest my case for no one..."

Which goes right into yet another: "...if I'm not in the mood/ When I'm in the mood...

The next line also could carry a double meaning: "Take a look at these laugh lines." This could either mean "these jokes," which could indicate that the speaker was trying to get the woman the song was addressing to smile... or it could mean the facial creases that come from a great deal of smiling. This would be a way of saying: "Look at how much you make me smile, I'm getting wrinkles already."

The next two lines are the best in the song, and it is surprising that they did not make it into another song; "I lived a year once in a hotel/ 'Cause I failed to read a sign." A joking line like that would have worked well in "Call Me Al," for instance.

The rest of the song also repeats itself: "For a long time I was miserable/ Then I felt just fine./ And now I feel so fine so often/ I'm like a textbook case/ Just a textbook of fine/ In the shelter of your arms."

"Textbook case" is likely supposed to rhyme with "I could rest my case" and "In the palm of your embrace." But the song's structure is so unusual-- with the chorus and verses folding into each other (embracing each other?)-- that it is hard to notice this rhyme unless you have the lyrics to read.

It is clear why the song failed to please Simon to the point of his releasing it. Aside from the cliches, the offhand tone of the lyrics is at odds with their tender intentions.

Some men might be self-conscious offering tender sentiments and so might feel more comfortable making jokes to impart their affections. But then, why would you need a poet and his song to help you express your feelings-- you could crack bad jokes yourself.

Next Song: Citizen of the Planet


  1. Hey! I am curious if you have a lot of subscribers to your weblog?

  2. Well, this is an older post. As of mid-January 2013, I am in the neighborhood of 40 subscribers. Why?