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In a 1975 interview published in Rock Lives: Profiles and Interviews
, Simon told the story of this song: "I woke up one morning in my apartment on Central Park and the opening words just popped into my mind: 'The problem is all inside your head, she said to me...' That was the first thing I thought of. So I just started building on that line. It was the last song I wrote for the album, and I wrote it with a Rhythm Ace, one of those electronic drum machines so maybe that's how it got that sing-song 'make a new plan Stan, don't need to be coy Roy' quality. It's basically a nonsense song."
According to Simon's younger brother Eddie (from the same interview), Paul made this song up while teaching his son how to rhyme. Even though he didn't take the lyrics too seriously, it's an interesting song, particularly for those who feel trapped in bad relationships. (thanks, Mike - Santa Barbara, CA)
Paul Simon may have sung that there were 50 ways to leave your lover, but he only listed 5, which are:
Slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy, just set yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
Drop of the key, Lee, and get yourself free.
We still await the other 45!
The German Soul group Tok Tok Tok covered this on their first album in 1999, which they titled 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover. Their version featured mouth-drums by the band's instrumentalist Morten Klein. It worked so well that the group used Klein's mouth-drums on many of their future recordings.
One of the most successful songwriters in the business, Desmond co-wrote "Livin' La Vida Loca," "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" and "Livin' On A Prayer."