Monday, July 9, 2012


This is young Sal's song to his young love, Bernadette. Appropriately, it's a young, puppy-love song,

The bulk of the song is in the sprightly doo-wop, teen-pop mode of the 1950s, but there is a passage that is more sophisticated, jazzy, and adult. In the soundtrack album (track 4), the whole song is sung by Simon, but the notes in the Lyrics book indicate that this passage is a duet in which Bernadette sings along, possibly expressing her ability to bring him toward adulthood.

The opening cliche lyrics befit the Frankie Avalon-style music: "I got time on my hands tonight/ You're the girl of my dreams/ When I'm with you, the future seems bright."

In the more cosmopolitan passage, the lyrics are a bit more, well, lyrical: "I love you/ And the breeze that wraps around you."

This slides back into the cuter lyrics with the transitional line: "You're the smile on the Moon,"

Then we get the classic doo-wop nonsense "words" like "dom," "zoom," "wop," and "well-a-well." These surround the heartfelt words "I'm home," which is an important statement for an immigrant like Sal, who was somewhat homeless even in his Puerto Rican homeland.

Next, Sal invites Bernadette to a "hiding place in Central Park." Then Sal adds a seeming non-sequitur: "There's a wooden cross over my bed." Does this mean: "I am a good, religious boy! I just want to show you the place I have discovered for looking at the stars." Or does this mean: "My apartment, overseen my my religious family, is no place to do with you what I would, ahem, like to..." Given what we know about Sal, we assume the former explanation-- he really likes Bernadette and knows that if he wants to marry her, they will have to wait.

"The city is lit with candles/ They're shining for you, Bernadette." She really brings out the budding poet in Sal. But let's not get ahead of ourselves...

This song is of a type Simon wrote back in his pre-Simon and Garfunkel days, a la "Hey Schoolgirl." It must have been fun for him to write in that simple, happy mode again.

Musical Note:
Simon's collaborator for the lyrics of The Capeman is a very impressive, and very appropriate one. Derek Walcott is a Nobel Prize-winning poet... and a native of the Caribbean, specifically, the island of St. Lucia in the West Indies.

He favored the modern poets like TS Eliot (Simon himself likes Wallace Stevens), and also Elizabeth Bishop. He also founded a theater in Trinidad in 1959-- still running!-- and wrote as many plays as books of poems. In fact, it was this work as much as his poetry that garnered Wolcott an OBE.

Wolcott's work involves themes of religion (he grew up Methodist in a Catholic environment) and sensuality, two themes that run through The Capeman, and of course he is familiar with Caribbean imagery. As far as I can find, this play is his only foray into songwriting, although he originally trained as a painter!

Next song: The Vampires/ Shopliftin' Clothes

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