Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Paul SimonReleased: 1972Charted:
When asked what "Mama Pajama" saw that made her so distraught in this song, Paul Simon has said that he's not exactly sure, but he assumed it was something sexual. Simon made up a crazy little story for the song, and named the main character Julio because it sounded like a typical New York neighborhood kid (Simon grew up in Queens). What Paul didn't realize until years later was the impact the song had on Spanish-speaking listeners who were thrilled to hear a song coming out of America with a Latin name in the title.
The title is not proper grammar. "Julio and I down by the schoolyard" would be correct, but wouldn't capture the youthful innocence that made the song so popular.
Paul Simon was Simon's first solo album after he broke up with Art Garfunkel.
Simon made a video for this song in 1988 that showed him playing basketball with some school kids on a playground. The video had a rap intro by Biz Markie and Big Daddy Kane, and a cameo by baseball legend Mickey Mantle, who lip-synchs the chorus. At the end of the video, NFL Hall-of-Famer John Madden is shown giving tips to the young players.
The BBC refused to play this song because of the reference to Newsweek, which is an American magazine. The BBC had a strict policy against product mentions in the songs they played.
Simon played this song on a Season 8 Sesame Street appearance
where he sings it on a stoop as a small group of children watch. One of the kids interjects her own lyrics from time to time, clearly having fun with it. Simon was one of the first big-name musical acts to appear on the show, which was filmed in his New York City stomping grounds. Once a generation of musicians who grew up watching Sesame Street
came of age, the show had no trouble getting famous acts to appear.
The song makes full use of the stereo spectrum, with an acoustic guitar dominating the left channel, and lighter sounding guitar on the right. According to producer Phil Ramone, this right-channel guitar was an electric that was unplugged, with its strings dampened. Simon and David Spinozza played the guitars.
The odd squiggly sound throughout the song was created with a cuica, which is a kind of percussion instrument. It was played by the Brazilian musician Airto Moreira.
Simon does the whistling solo on this song. In concert, the whistling was sometimes replaced with a saxophone solo.