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Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover

by

Paul Simon



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

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.
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Comments (16):

On December 6th, 1975 Paul Simon's fourth studio album, 'Still Crazy After All These Years', peaked at #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
Three tracks from the album entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; "50 Ways to Leave Your lover" (#1 for 3 weeks), "Still Crazy After All These Years" (#40), and in a duet with Art Garfunkel, "My Little Town" (#9)...
And at the 18th Annual Grammy Awards (held Feb. 28th, 1976) it won the award for 'Album of the Year'...
Both Mr. Simon and Mr. Garfunkel recently celebrated their 72nd birthday; Mr. Simon on October 13th and Mr. Garfunkel on November 5th.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
I always liked the rhythm of this song, but got sick of the lyrics. Sounded like PS grabbed a rhyming dictionary to help write this.

'Grab the door hinge, Orange.'
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
I think the military-style drumming is symbolic of the coldness of the situation. I mean the guy is cheating and the two are minimizing the impending breakup into little rhymes
- Jack, Mesa, AZ
I recently came up with the remaining 45 "ways to leave your lover" if anyone is interested. The parody version of the song should be available on YouTube sometime next month.
- JFV, Philadelphia, PA
Actually he told us 6 ways:

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.

and finally

Why don't we just sleep on it tonight;
And in the morning I believe you'll see light

which (by the way) implies sleep together and she'll see your having an affair blah blah blah
- Gabriele, Edmonton, AB
This song is specifically about someone meeting a 'new' lover, and they are suggesting ways to help in the situation. They are suggesting '50 Ways To Leave Your Lover'
- Jake Grissom, Los Angeles, CA
love this song and it seems as time has FLY
- malena, monterrey, Mexico
John Valby, alias "Dr. Dirty," wrote and performed the very memorable parody "50 Ways to F@#$ Your Lover."
- Brad, Barry, TX
You're kinda screwed if your name is Orange, Purple, or Silver.
- George, Pittsburgh, PA
A pretty jaded song from the guy who brought us "Kathy's Song" and "To Emily (Wherever I may find her)" Simon's songs just weren't as good after Garfunkel left.
- Heather, Los Angeles, CA
"Fifty Ways to Lose Your Liver": Just sip out the sack, Jack/Go cop me a gram, Stan...
- MusicMama, New York, NY
Steve Gadd did the drums (marching style) during this song. It was wise for Paul to pick Steve for this job because the fact that the marching beat (Which Gadd learned to prefect during his three years in the Marine Corp.) adds a personality and tone to the song that not only was the driving force that made it a hit, but was also a big influnce among young and upcomming drummers during the time peiord. One of them being Carter Bulford, who would grow up to play with the "Dave Mathews Band" and credited this song as being the primary influnce behind the marching style he used in the bands biggest hit song to date "Crash" which was recorded over 20 years after the release of "50 Ways to Leave your Lover" He even plays both marching versions on his video "Under the Table and Drumming"
- Chuck, Houston, TX
A comedy show on BBC Radio, "The 99p Challenge", had comedians discussing other ways to leave your lover apart from the three or four mentioned in the song. Among them:

"Hire a contract killer, Mrs. Miller"
"Push her off a cliff, Cliff"
"Show your rash, Sash"
"Change your name to Paul, Simon"
"Sleep with someone, Else"
"Tell her your real name, Agamemnon"
- David, Mesa, AZ
This is perhaps the only song to contain the word "misconstrued."
- Jay, Brooklyn, NY
Use effective rhetoric Frederick
- Ralph, Newton, MA
Phoebe Snow ("Poetry Man")is one of the women doing backup vocals on this song.
- Robin, Birmingham, AL
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