Paul Simon’s 1990 album Rhythm Of The Saints is one of those beautiful examples of someone who’s already a legend and a commercial force pushing himself forward, during a time when all he really had to do was sit and count his money. Rhythm Of The Saints followed Simon’s phenomenally popular album Graceland, which itself was an experiment, with Simon working with South African singers and musicians. On Rhythm Of The Saints, Simon looked to a different part of the world, bringing in Afro-Brazilian musicians to explore the music of South America, combining it with his own innate pop sensibilities.
“Can’t Walk But,” the album’s second song was and is deliciously weird, with its tingling bells and its Chernobyl-inspired lyrics. So of course Simon has now made it weirder. Simon, in the midst of his big farewell tour, recently announced the new album In The Blue Light, in which he’s radically reworked a lot of songs from his old catalog. We’ve already heard his new take on 1973’s “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor.” And now he’s shared another take on “Can’t Walk But.”
Last year, Simon played a special set at Justin Vernon’s Eaux Claires festival with the experimental string ensemble yMusic. And for the new “Can’t Walk But,” Simon has worked with yMusic again. The National’s Bryce Dessner has given the song a new arrangement, in which those strings flit nervously around Simon’s voice the same way those bells did on the original. Hear the new version and the original below.
In The Blue Light is out 9/7 on Sony Legacy.