If you think about it, Paul Simon was destined to be a great grandpa. All his best songs, whether with Simon and Garfunkle or in his solo work, have either been educational or innocent fun. If I wanted my kids to be introduced to music while they played with blocks or whatever, I would put on Graceland without even thinking. And now, with shows like Yo Gabba Gabba linking popular music with children’s television to outright hilarious degrees, it seems more apt than ever for Simon, now 70, to take his rightful place as elder statesman with a piano and a voice and give us a private tutoring on the intricacies of life for a couple minutes.
“Love and Hard Times” is that song on Simon’s newest LP, So Beautiful or So What. (Also, “Questions for the Angels” is but that’s somewhere around #60 on this list.) In it, Simon sings up about the struggle implicit in the title. Fingerpicked guitars and swelling orchestration yield images of swooping camera angles of beautifully moonlit city streets and the scumbags who inhabit them. So lecherous are they that the god who created them won’t even bother sticking around. The track ends with a man stressing over it all, calmed by his lover holding his hand. “Thank god I found you in time,” Simon sings, but then corrects himself with the track’s message in mind. “Thank god I found you.”