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Album: Still Crazy After All These YearsReleased: 1975Charted:
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.
Paul Simon may have sung that there were 50 ways to leave your lover, but he only listed five, which are:
1) Slip out the back, Jack
2) Make a new plan, Stan
3) You don't need to be coy, Roy, just set yourself free
4) Hop on the bus, Gus
5) Drop of the key, Lee, and get yourself free
We still await the other 45! He left plenty of room for a sequel, but never followed up.
Patti Austin, Valerie Simpson
and Phoebe Snow sang backup on this track. The instrumentation is:
Acoustic Guitar: Paul Simon
Electric Guitar: John Tropea, Joe Beck
Organ: Ken Asher
Bass: Tony Levin
Drums: Steve Gadd
Carl Palmer cites Gadd's drumming
on this track as some of the best he's heard.
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.