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Album: Hearts And BonesReleased: 1983
Simon wrote this about his relationship with the actress Carrie Fisher, whom he married a few months before the album was released. The nuptials were clearly on his mind:Two people were married
The act was outrageous
The bride was contagious
Simon and Fisher each became wildly famous in their early 20s, he in the mid-'60s with Simon & Garfunkel, and she in the late '70s as Princess Leia (Fisher was born into stardom: she was but the daughter of Hollywood stars Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher). Their union was passionate and tumultuous, as both were very strong-willed creative types. "Hearts And Bones" finds Simon putting this crazy love affair into song:Their hearts and their bones
And they won't come undone
The couple did come undone in 1984, but they later reconciled even after their divorce, and spent a few more years together. Other songs Simon wrote dealing with his relationship with Fisher include "Allergies" and "She Moves On."
Paul Simon is Jewish, Carrie is half Jewish, hence the line, "One and a half wandering Jews." When asked if he made a conscious effort to put religious overtones in the song, Simon replied: "No, it wasn't conscious. In fact, I thought it was actually funny. One and one-half anything is funny."
Simon holds this song in high esteem. Speaking with Bruce Pollock
, in 1986, he compared it to one of his more famous compositions. "I wrote 'The Sound of Silence
' when I was 21 and 'Hearts and Bones' is, I think, a better song. But 'Sounds of Silence' was a big hit and it's in the culture. When you talk about a popular art, as the writing gets more complex and more layered, it's harder to have a lot of people who really like it. It is easier to have a smaller group of people who are more intensely devoted to you. It's natural that this should happen in my development. I was a rock star at one point. I had many years of being a rock star. I don't want to be a rock star anymore."
For the Hearts And Bones album, Simon took a different approach to his songwriting. He explained in a 1990 interview with SongTalk magazine: "The language starts to get more interesting in Hearts and Bones. The imagery started to get a little interesting. What I was trying to learn to do was to be able to write vernacular speech and then intersperse it with enriched language. And then go back to vernacular. So the thing would go along smoothly and then some image would come out that was interesting and then it would go back to this very smooth, conversational thing. By the time I got to Graceland, I was trying to let that kind of enriched language flow naturally, so that you wouldn't really notice it as much. I think in Hearts and Bones you could feel it, that it was coming."
When Simon sings about how they "returned to their natural coasts," it's a reference to how he is from New York and Fisher from California.
Art Garfunkel sings on this track - you can hear him backing Simon in the middle of the song.
The Hearts And Bones album started out as a Simon & Garfunkel project called Think Too Much, marking a reunion for the duo, who hadn't recorded an album since the immensely successful Bridge over Troubled Water in 1970. It ended up being a Simon solo album, and it was a disappointment, reaching just #35 in the US. Simon changed course for his next album, traveling to South Africa to gather material for Graceland (1986), which became one of the top albums of the decade. Simon & Garfunkel never did make another album.
The musicians on this track are:
Simon - acoustic guitar
Anthony Jackson - bass
Steve Gadd - drums
Richard Tee - Fender Rhodes piano
Dean Parks - guitar
Airto Moreira - percussion
Michael Mainieri - vibraphone, marimba
Not long before her death in 2016, Carrie Fisher said of Simon in Rolling Stone, "I do like the songs he wrote about our relationship. Even when he's insulting me, I like it very much."