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 has 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.
Suggestion credit: Alex - small town, IL
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 did the whistling solo on this song himself. In concert, the whistling was sometimes replaced with a saxophone solo. His wife, Edie Brickell, would sometimes handle the whistling during live shows.
The line, "Rosie, the queen of Corona," references the Corona neighborhood in Queens, New York. On September 22, 2018, Simon played the last show on his farewell tour in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. "How much fun is it to sing a song about Corona in Corona?" he asked the crowd.
William from Twilight ZoneAlso, those searching for Jesus clues should find them, as Julio traces to Jove to God the Father, and the HardRock Sun t-shirt from the video represents Jesus.
William from Twilight ZoneThe Romeo and Juliet take is interesting, worth looking into further. Research of the 420 led me to this song '72 and posthumous video '88. After 20 hours of looking into all things Paul Simon and Rosie, that is lyrics, video clues, comments made by Simon, wiki, album art work, maps/history of Queens, live performances ect. I was stuck and couldn't show this as a 420 song, only more hints. So the last resort is to read comments. After nearly stopping half way thru, I spotted a comment mentioning a SNL 1:1, thanks to that person. The The 420 is well crafted, extensive and cryptic, making it the true meaning. Cover provided by overt sexuality. The video provides more clues, the into crotch grab, spitting, the whistle break is a beat off session, two guys, the drums are phallic, 2 + a longer 1. The great Mickey Mantles 'home run' timed to "me and julio" "down". They are sparring with the Graffiti though, reversed begin from end. REALLY.
Kawa from Tokyo, JapanHi Music Lovers,
I think that the first idea of the lyrics of the song came form the song called, Me And You And A Dog Named Boo, by Lobo in 1971. I think because that the title of the song, Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard, in 1972 was very similar to the one, Me And You And by Lobo in 1971. Lobo's song became a big hit after releasing and I think that Paul knew the song and liked it and he thought he was going to write a new song like this ! So I think that paul tried to write and did it.
PS, Hey Paul. I know how to do it ! (Laughs) Very similar, huh!
Mavis from Upper MidwestThis thread is hilarious!
Philip from HannoverThe house of detention is a juvenile home for girls in queens, NYC
Scott from Illinois - UsaThis song seems to make almost TOTAL sense if sung about an underage Jewish girl having relations with Julio 'down by the schoolyard'. "Papa say oy if I get that boy' - that boy being JULIO, not the singer of the song. Just because the singer is a man doesn't mean the song is about a boy. 'I'm on my way, I don't know where I'm going' - the girl is being sent to live somewhere else because she is pregnant or too much to handle.
Frank from New York Let's assume for arguments sake he was just buying a little grass.
Julian from London...and 'We was (sic) ALL on the cover of Newsweek' - why not ......we was BOTH on the cover of Newsweek? Yep, three people involved in this not two!!
Julian from LondonWhat I don't get when people look for something 'gay' happening between the narrator and Julio is that the they completely ignore the line before and the 'you' that precedes 'me and Julio'. So go back to the song and he is saying Goodbye Rosie, the Queen of Corona, see YOU, me and Julio!
So there were three parties involved not just two. Sure, Rosie could be Queen in the gay terminology but could be a girl !!
And another thing, why is only one party going to be put in the house of detention? If 'he and julio' were up to no good, why does Julio seem to get away with it? Why does it not say "if I get THOSE boyS I'm gonna put THEM in the house of detention - it still scans musically/ lyrically. Julio seems to be OK!
So there is a lot more going on here (or not) but, if anything, the song is a farewell / goodbye to Rosie and not to Julio!
If there is any connotations then I suggest you focus on Rosie not Julio!
Gollyrojer from Dallas"The title is not proper grammar. 'Julio and I down by the schoolyard' would be correct." Not quite. It would be, "Julio and me down by the schoolyard." Who did you see down by the schoolyard, I or me? You saw I there? No... you saw me there.
Debra from TexasOy! Sex, sex, sex, you people. Mama Pajama lived by the school obviously. What the mama saw was vandalism. A Jewish kid and his Hispanic friend probably breaking out windows. (At night would you really see or hear two kids whacking off? Would you honestly go to the cops about it or raise the window and tell 'em to stop or go blind?) The "radical priest" got them bailed out and he's "On my way". He got the hell out of town. "Goodbye to Rosie", his mother. Yes, there are Jewish women named Rose.
I thought the song might've been a true-life adventure of Paul's. Sigh.
John from Jacksonville FlA few things clicked for me reading comments and I believe I've got a reasonable theory. I think "Me And Julio" is a slyly coded coming-of-age story about a teen caught out during some awkward sexual experimentation with his buddy, and the over-the-top reaction of the narrator's parents.
Regarding the mysterious "crime" that everyone finds so fascinating, Paul Simon has said in interviews only that he doesn't know what it was, but "assumed it was something sexual." (Oy! I think he's just being coy.) On this basis, let's help Paul fill in the gaps.
First, to establish my credentials, I was 13 in 1972, the year the song came out, and I know whereof I speak. (A lot of men can say the same, according to the Kinsey Report!) At the time, I knew of at least three caches of dirty magazines, their locations treasured secrets passed among guys my age, to be visited when camping out or spending the night. "Rosie" was the 8th grade joke name for our hand ("Here, meet my girlfriend, Rosie - Rosie Palms!") Most of us were quite obsessed with Rosie - there was nothing gay about it, she was simply the queen!
The song narrator is Jewish (Simon is Jewish; "papa said oy"), and has already annoyed the parental units by hanging out with some Latino kid he met at school. As others have explained, Latinos moving into Corona at the time were viewed as bad seed, but only by the grown-ups. Hence Mama checking up on the boys' first (and no doubt last) sleepover.
Let's assume "it" happens during a sleepover, because Mama is in pajamas. Sometime that night, maybe cued by noise, she rolls out of bed (a roundish woman, yes?) to check up on the boys. So she walks in, flips on the light, and yikes! - catches them very naked. She then flips on her figurative siren. Cue the ululation! Dad hears the fuss, comes in, takes in the scene, and threatens his son with the "House of Detention," a place for women! There's a clue about as subtle as a two-by-four that he now thinks his boy is gay. Hence the notion that as Simon strongly hinted, it was schoolboy-sexual, and he just doesn't want to say so in the interview. :D
The narrator captures the parents' reactions in a string of wild images, but the "Coo-coo-coo" tells us they are only gleeful exaggerations. No, the police aren't really coming, and no actual law was broken. The Catholic Church and Newsweek Magazine aren't getting involved. It only seems like it because Mama is not a temperate woman!
(The "it" could also have been down in the woods next to the schoolyard, probably where some tattered Penthouses were hidden under a board. If so, Mama had her suspicions and followed one time! Boys are not always as smooth as they think they are.)
I've relied a lot on the light-hearted feel of the song - the carefree rhythm, the laughing drums - as a guide to interpreting the lyrics. The arrangement suggests there was no drug deal, no crime, no police, and things will be fine now. It also tells us that to the guys, whatever they were up to was no big deal and they regret nothing except getting caught. The parents reacted like buffoons and the slightly comical percussion calls them out for it.
The tone of the song, then, is relief, freedom, jubilation; it suggests that the real joke is how out of synch the parents were, and how well the young man turned out anyway. He is probably a little older and a lot wiser now, looking back on it all with a grin as he leaves Corona to get a new life. No more crazy parents, cringeworthy teen misadventures, "Rosie," or other great times of his schoolyard days. What do we say to the bugbears of adolescence as we thankfully move on? "See you!"
Tony from San DiegoI think that Whitney Houston's mom sings background.
Calvin from Central OhioI was 15 when this came out, and I never thought of analyzing it. I understood it as either smoking pot or gay sex, and smoking pot was the clear "against the law" one of those. The radical priest could have been any number of people in 1972, but it gave me something to shoot for.
Harry from MidwestWas his dad the cop?
Carmen from Boca Raton, FlMy friend and I lived in Queens at the time of this song. We believe it had to do with the influx of Hispanics or Puerto Ricans moving into the area. Back then, it was an issue with the older folks if you were Jewish or Italian to hang around with Puerto Ricans. In those days, we discussed racial issues. Queens was primarily occupied by Italian and Jewish. When the Puerto Ricans began to arrive, the other races left town. I'm half Italian and half Puerto Rican and I know both sides of the story. Paul Simon will never admit to this because the younger generations never saw the differences in racial color. Just like Paul, we were all hangin' out with Julio.
Ken from Philadelphia, PaIt seems like many of us are looking at this song through 21st century lenses, when this song was written more than 40 years ago. I've always assumed that "me and Julio" were very early teens (say 13) who were just learning about things like masturbation. The were observed "down by the schoolyard" doing something that, to an outsider, looked gay. Hence the HUGE controversy in their little corner of Queens. Again, this is the early 70s and the worst thing you could do in those days was be gay. Presumably, it was just two boys figuring out sexuality and it was all rather innocent, but again, in those days, even innocent actions that could be construed as gay were considered awful.
Christian from Philadelphia, PaSubmission for your approval: a novel and original observation, by a solver of cryptic crosswords.
....................RoMeo and Juliet - the epitome of doomed, romantic, young, passionate and foolish love goodbye to RO.....O...........siE - subtraction of the letters .........................Me and Julio.. = gay lovers wordplay.
It took me about 35 years to light upon this observation, as well as the detail that Papa threatened to send his boy to the women's prison over in Greenwich Village.
So, make of my evidence what you will. Paul's voice sings the sentences, and the sum speaks for itself.
From schoolyard tryst to LGBT marriage, it feels like the bookends to an era. Hooray for New York equality! and bring on a more perfect union.
For what you think it's worth, spread the word.
Christian from Philadelphia, Pahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Women's_House_of_Detention 1932-1974 @ 10 Greenwich Avenue
Jack from Bryan, TxRegarding "Oy": Richard Nixon wasn't Jewish, he was Quaker. Perhaps you remember—back when SNL was funny—Dan Aykroyd's Nixon saying to Belushi's Kissinger, "Down on your knees, Jewboy"? On the other hand, Rhymin' Simon is Jewish. On the other, other hand, _oye_, "listen" [imperative] en Español, is a common opening word in Spanish/Spanglish sentences, perhaps "oy" is a contraction? On the other, other, other hand mebbe Paul Simon needed a single syllable word that rhymed with "boy."
P.S.: For the record, I'm for the underage, heterosexual, Catholic angle, with the Mama and the Papa being Rosie's parents. Interesting as the gay and pot angles are, they require too much explanation.
P.P.S: Cuíca?! There's an instrument that makes that sound?! In high school, we always used to do that part of the song by whistling air in and out of puckered lips with the tongue and jaws, like the apes in that Farside cartoon.
Chris from South Surrey, BcDebating whether 'Me and Julio' is grammatically-correct is patently contemptible.
Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesRickAlan in Tulsa: The guy I hung out and discussed music with when this song came out would agree with you. I am still not sure and may never be, but at the time I thought they were gay. I do feel that the McNamara/Ellsberg interpretation is kind of stretching things. What Peter in Newark and Carmen in Boca Raton describe is I think more plausible.
Carmen from Boca Raton, FlI lived in Queens, NY as a child and lived this song. This has to do with racial differences. Queens had been occupied by primarily Italian and Jewish. The old timers were uncomfortable with the mixing of different races and were moving away. If you were white and hung out with someone not of your race, the old timers had an issue with it, "stick him in the house of detention". The younger generations didn't see color, "seein' me and Julio down by the school yard". Corona is an area of Queens. Not the beer. Nobody discussed Corona Beer because it was not popularly sold in the USA yet. Paul Simon lived in Queens and was leaving the area as many of the Jewish race. Rosie was a popular name and could have been Hispanic or Italian, "Goodbye to Rosie". Paul Simon was leaving Queens, NY.
Rat from Chicago, IlPaul Simon once said he stole home plate (a very difficult task) during a high school baseball game (and his life was downhill after that, indicating the difficulty). So, how did a Jewish kid make the high school baseball team if the neighborhood had so many Hispanics and Blacks in it?
Wambag from Boston, MaIt also appears there is some confusion about the line "See you, me and Julio...". Is it referring to three people being "seen" or does "see you" mean "goodbye"? The title is "Me and Julio" not "You, Me and Julio". And Paul sings the line as if to say "See ya, me and Julio...". In the live YouTube on this page he sings "I'll see you, me and Julio...". I'll see me? What's the consensus?
Ivy from Springfield, NeI like this song. I love Simon and Garfunkel. This isn't one of my favorites by them, though. 8/10
Mousesgal from Tallahassee, FlHey guys....The correct meaning of this song was mentioned at their Concert in Central Park: The story is: Jackie Kennedy asked Paul Simon to meet her at some park in D.C. to discuss something for JFK and was caught by someone in the media and that person (whose name was Leo) from the media took it too far. Me and who Leo (Me and Julio?).
Jim from Pueblo, CoTo me, it sounds like smoking marijuana. "I'm on my way, but I don't know where I'm going" mama spitting on the floor when her name is mentioned, (Mary Jane) Rosie the Queen of Corona simply could have been a drug dealer they were getting the weed from. "It was against the law" was true back then. Daddy putting him in the house of detention could be because he was a straight edge abiding to what society told them to.
Jude from Baltimore, MdDid someone say the name "Julio" as a reference to a race? what race? are you saying that Julio which sounds like a name from Spain, means big lips, or Black skin, or is it white race with red hair, or yellow skin, like other people who speak Spanish, or are you talking about Hollywood Stereotypes? tell us, how are the Julios, do they usually speak Spanish like Julio Iglesias? is he from a Special race? so they are talking about his race? the White one? im confused, the other day we asked a girl where she was from (nationality), she said: im Jewish!!! are people getting more stupid these days? change the world by changing the obtuse way of thinking, US people! - Peter, New York, NY
The name Julio while being a Spanish name, does not mean the person was born in Spain, nor that they are white. Most Spanish speakers are not caucasian, due to forced conversion, invasion, and inter breeding of the Spanish "missionaries" and the natives of South, Centeral and North America. Spanish people in Europe are Caucaian, Hispanic and Latino people are not necessarily so, they actually could be black, or brown, or white, or a mixture.
Remy from Shreveport, LaForget the meaing, I want to know if anyone else hears a chimpanzee in the bckground? And it sounds like a pigeon right at the end (coo, coo coo)... It sems like a heard an interview with Simon once when he said there was some pigeon recordings in some of his songs.
Scallopholden.com from Buffalo, NyOn the Demo of the song(it's on youtube) He sings some different lyrics on verse 3. He starts with "oh the radical priests come and get me released and it's all on my video tape. Rolled out of bed went up the stairs and made it out the fire escape. Well im on my way..... goodbye to rosie my radical lady. So there are some more clues for you song philosophers.
Duane from Tampa, FlFor me the discussion here only proves how great a song it is. Songs can have more than one meaning. A truly great song opens it's self up to many people from varied back grounds and can touch them all deeply in many differing ways. It is a testament to Paul that so many people love this song for so many reasons. For me, the song is not about what they did, but how the person telling the story deals with the consequences of their action. The line in the chorus, " .... I'm taking my time but I don't know where." is the meaning of the song. He knows he has done something real bad ( must have been bad if it made the cover of News Week) and he is "owning" up to and taking the punishment. It does not matter what has been done it is a morality play about taking responsibility for ones own actions, in my humble opinion.
Madi from Abbotsford, BcI believe that this song is about a racial issue, not a homosexuality act. However, it is a good song.
Alberto from Roma, ItalyThe song, as many contemporary "officially literary" works (poems, novels etc) can be read at more levels and plays with putting together different "strata" of interpretation - political, sexual etc. In other words, almost all sentences in it can be read both sexually and politically. Paul Simon took great care in writing it and had fun too. Sorry for my English, I'm Old-European.
Poco from Dallas, TxNo, no, no people, get a clue; the song is about them smoking weed down by the schoolyard; all this stuff about Rosie and Queens and Corona have nothing to do with the subject as I'm sure I've met tons of Rosie's in Queens over the years...they got caught smoking weed!
Kermit from Monterey, CaCorona is also the name for the tip of the penis, So was this about oral sex with a minor
Dan from Rochester, NyI think Marisol's answer is the best. There hasn't been enough attention brought to the fact that Paul Simon is from Queens! Corona is not just a street name (though Corona ave is in Queens), but an entire neighborhood very close to where Paul grew up. And there is also Corona park...which could be where him and Julio were 'hanging out' with Rosie...most likely doing the quasi-innocent (due to age) sex acts. Also possible that he is referencing Roosevelt Ave as Rosie because it leads right into Corona, Queens. The Corona "beer" answers are just silly.
Joe from Watertown, MaThe use of 'me' is correct. I think the source of confusion is that it's only a fragment of a sentence. But there's still enough context to tell that the word 'me' is used as a direct object, not a subject. So Paul Simon was correct in using the accusative form (me) rather than the nominative (I).
Ken from Louisville, KyThis was from Paul's first solo album after S&G split. Paul was concerned about how audiences would react to him singing without Art, so he sang this (and many other tracks) twice and had it mixed to sound like two-part harmony, in an attempt to replicate the S&G "sound". He also did that on his follow-up album as well.
Peter from Newark, NjI lived in Corona (Lefrak City on the L.I.E.)at the time (the last years of the Lindsay admin in NYC. The public schools, and notoriously IS 61 in Corona were shut down in 1969 on and off, first due to Al Shanker's UFT strike against the city, then by a student (8th graders!) protest against the War in Vietnam.
The neighborhood was in the Daily News constantly as a ground of confrontation between latino (including many new South American immigrants who did not get along with the local Puerto Rican kids) and black gangs on Junction Blvd, and confrontations between the older Italian homeowners that were laying down in front of bulldozers to stop the City from building more "affordable" housing.
The most common name at IS61 was Rosa or Rosita, and at least one Julio I knew then (from the Philippines, actually), was arrested for running across the L.I.E. on dares to dodge traffic.
One event from those days did end up in Newsweek and on the radio/TV the weird teacher led move by parents at PS206 across the road in Rego Park to through throw away their toy guns as a sign of their willingness not to become violent.
The fact is that nearly everything that is talked about in the song is a compression of actual events and reportage of the neighborhood from 1967 to 1969.
The radical preacher was the leader of the Ocean Hill Brownsville citizens revolt against the NYC School Chancellors to fight for local autonomy in school boards. The issue revolved around the flushing of poor teachers into the poorest districts of NYC, Bed Stuy and Corona among them. I think the guy's name was Winston Bone.
It pays to have been there. The truth is more interesting than the inspired guesses. I grew up knowing I had lived the song, and so did the few white kids in Corona at the time.
The issue was not homosexual: no one cared in Corona. It was racial, and the Romeo and Juliet angle is precisely right.
Andy from Albuquerque, NmDavid from Charleston is correct. Would wouldn't say "See I down at the schoolyard". Unless of course, your a rasta.
Peter from New York, NyDid someone say the name "Julio" as a reference to a race? what race? are you saying that Julio which sounds like a name from Spain, means big lips, or Black skin, or is it white race with red hair, or yellow skin, like other people who speak Spanish, or are you talking about Hollywood Stereotypes? tell us, how are the Julios, do they usually speak Spanish like Julio Iglesias? is he from a Special race? so they are talking about his race? the White one? im confused, the other day we asked a girl where she was from (nationality), she said: im Jewish!!! are people getting more stupid these days? change the world by changing the obtuse way of thinking, US people!
Bob from Markham, OnThat's why the song says: "see you, me and Julio", by the way. The characters in the song are us, and we are them. We were all young once and should be capable of empathizing with the predicament of youngsters whose love might lead them to violate "the law of the land".
Bob from Markham, OnTo summarize, the song is a plea from "God" - speaking through Paul Simon - for understanding and forgiveness of young lovers whose actions may be a violation of human laws but nevertheless an innocent expression of their essential humanity.
Bob from Markham, OnThere were "radical Priests", sympathetic to homosexuality and gay rights, when Simon wrote the song. One such was Paul Shanley of Boston: "Shanley, once a long-haired, jeans-wearing "street priest" who worked with Boston's troubled youth...argued for acceptance of homosexuality and pushed for gay rights. He called himself a "sexual expert" and advertised his counseling services in the alternative press." Sadly, Shanley turned out to have been also a sexual predator. In a July 20, 1972 interview for Rolling Stone, Jon Landau asked: "What is it that the mama saw? The whole world wants to know." Simon replied "I have no idea what it is... Something sexual is what I imagine, but when I say 'something', I never bothered to figure out what it was. Didn't make any difference to me." So the song IS about young lovers, whether gay or straight, caught in a sex act but - even Paul Simon himself doesn't know exactly what was going on. People need to understand that Paul Simon believes his best songs were sort of delivered, whole & complete, into his consciousness by a divine agency. In other words, a divine "muse" was speaking through him and his music, rather than Paul Simon sitting down and saying "I think I'll write a song about young lovers".
Neil from Glasgow, United KingdomI actually didn't realise there was so much debate about the song's meaning until I reached this site. I always read it as an underage sex act that was witnessed by mama. The verses talk of the two families reaction to it. Rosie is the queen of corona, either the place or the act of oral sex. Me is the narrator. Julio is what the narrator has named his penis. Paul himself has said it's about a sex act. Me and Julio is the narrator and his dick, simple as that.
Andy from Halesowen, West Midlands, United KingdomVery interesting thread. My vote is with the underage sex explation. I suspect the person telling the story, and his friend Julio were experiencing early experimental adolesent sex with Rosie. Corona I have heard was slang at the time in some communities for oral sex. Much as we might use the term Blow Job today. It refers to the Corona, a fat cigar that you obviously suck on to get pleasure from smoking, just as Rosie was doing with their manhood. That she was rather good at it made her the "Queen of Corona" - She may well have been the local prostitute! Some have said this would not have been enough to cause all that fuss, maybe not today, but 30-odd years ago, the world was a different place, add a strict catholic family to that and Boom, there you have it, a mixture of disgust, andger and shame from the families. Of course I could be just as wrong as the rest of these comments :))
Lalah from Wasilla, AkTHANK YOU HAnk! I agree this song is political in nature. Paul had to be thinking about an antiwar theme that had to be buried in metaphores and rhyming with the melody so it got airplay. All the circa 1970 issues are touched. Boomers breaking from their raised-during-the depression, WWII veteran parents. Churches fracturing over whether to support the war effort in Viet Nam or not. Pot smoking. College Campuses becoming hotbeds of discontent (Schoolyard), running to dodge the draft or get into college so you didn't have to go, (Think Bill Clinton). Paul seems above the puerile thoughts expressed here. He probably laughs every time he hears a new theory.
Hank from Boston , Masorry, "radical PRIEST"
Hank from Boston , MaOK WOW...Everything written here(if any one even reads this) about gay sex is wrong. In the song Simon sings, "The radical will come and get me released." The church is against homosexuality. Why on earth would a radical anti - gay man release someone for being gay. That also (for the most part) eliminates drug use. That is why I believe that this song is very political, and is opposing the war. "Julio," I don't feel, is meant to be a name of race, simply one that fits with the flow of the song.
Heather from Miami, Fli love this song its a cool song because of the tone in it and the volume it has. i love how it goes fast in the first part and just keeps on goin in the all song. you should tell one of the stations to play it on the radio someday on 104.7 thanks!
Marc from Perth, AustraliaA plethora of interpretations! The narrator is male/female... Rosie/Corona is girl/beer, street in NYC/masturbation...Against the law is RE dope/sex -gay/sex-hetero-underage... mama pajama is woman/J Edgar Hoover(?!!)/McNamara...radical priest is...whoever... & etc... Looks like P. Simon didn't want to reveal the song's meaning, if it even has one. Maybe the lyrics are the roaming thoughts of a singer/poet having fun with metaphors (i.e. multiple streams of thought merging to appear like a consistent storyline). Perhaps Simon just wants us to concentrate on the song's upbeat mood and sing/whistle along to it.
Jak from Seattle, WaI love the way people try to read too much meaning into things. If you listen to the lyrics straightforward, I think you'll hear what the song is really about. Clue #1: You'll notice there little "whooping" sounds throughout the song. They're pretty constant throughout, but near the end of the song they become rather drawn out and begin to sound more like gradually slowing down female sex noises to a climax. Clue #2: Rosie is the queen of Corona - Corona is a beer. So what did Mama saw? Me & Julio down by the schoolyard with drunken Rosita doing nasty things. Julio probably stereotypically sold his little sister to "Me" for a little taste of Corona. No wonder Paul Simon doesn't want to admit what the song is about.
Marc from Perth, AustraliaI agree with George, Baltimore, MD. The metaphoric references are too buried to guess their literal meaning. You're all right (or all wrong). Interpret it any way you like. If P. Simon ain't saying then we ain't gonna know for sure.
Dan from Solana Beach, CaA long time ago a friend told me the queen of corona was anal sex, never once thought of it as gay though.
Gary from San Antonio, TxThis is what I got out of it... His mother smelled weed. He got it from Julio. He no longer masterbates since he has a new habit now. He can't go home so he runs away. Perhapse some of the political stuff mentioned earlier too. Suppose?
Mary from Phoenix, AzNevermind...for the record, it's called a "cuica" From Wikipedia: Cuíca (pronounced KWEE-kah) is a Brazilian friction drum often used in samba music. The tone it produces has a high-pitched squeaky timbre.
Mary from Phoenix, AzI have a technical question about the song. Does anyone know how they made that "monkey sound" in the song? It sounds like "OOOO" like a little squeak at the beginning, and in the instrumental portion. I cannot figure out if it's someone's voice, or an actual instrument. HELP!
Lalah from Wasilla, AkA Corona is a type & size of a cigar too. That fits in with the pot smoking motif. I've wondered for years what they got caught doing. What about flag burning or draft card burning? Those were divisive issues back in 1972. A liberal rag like Newsweek would have run with it.
Javier from Lima, PeruThis is a confirmation. In "Me and Julio down by the schoolyard" song, JULIO was a high class peruvian guy. They met each other in the early 70´s. They had a short friendship . JULIO lived in California until 80´s, he married with Margaret O´Brien and death in Lima-Peru in 2005.
Christine from Port-of-spain, OtherAll i can really say is after reading all these comments I'm utterly confused and while i think that bestiality thing is repulsive and almost unbelievable that Simon wud write such a cheery song on teh matter, I cant help but agree that at the end of the song you hear what sounds like an animal making sounds of pleasure......ick!!
Paul from Boulder, CoAbout grammar: Please read the song lyrics again. In the title, "me" is the correct word, while "I" would be incorrect.
Barbara from Bronwood, GaGiven the Daniel Ellsberg connection, with which I concur:
"The papa say "Oy, if I get that boy...."
I believe Oy is a Jewish expression...was Nixon Jewish?
Mama Pajama - J. Edgar Hoover - bugged everybody to the point of omniscience - "saw" everything - obsessed with knowing everything about those in power including sex lives - hence the "pajama" reference.
George from Baltimore, MdI was in high school when this was released as a single, and it prompted many late-night discussions as to it's meaning....in the end, I decided it was simply Paul Simon playing with words and melodys.
Jim from Seattle, Wathats funny coming from julio
Julio from Williamsport, MdAll the postings about sexual references are stupid. It's about Daniel Ellsberg. The government employee who leaked secret papers on the Vietnam war to the press. There was an investigation. The "radical priest" is Daniel Berrigan, the anti-war Jesuit who visited Ellsberg in jail. This event made the cover of Newsweek back in 1970 or 1971. The "mama pajama" is a euphemism I think, for McNamara and the "papa" I think is Nixon. Rosie, Queen of Corona is a reference to a street in NYC. How that enters in I don't know. A school is where you learn, a schoolyard is where kids exchange information. (Pentagon Papers) Nothing to do with sexual activity, it's all political. You have to know the political climate at the time. I lived it.
Marisol from Astoria, NyHello! Rosie the Queen of Corona is Roosevelt Ave, running through Corona Queens, the neighborhood adjacent to Forest Hills where Paul Simon grew up. He's going to jail or gonna be on the run so it seems that he's saying goodbye to his hang outs. Hello!
Alex from Bergen, NorwayDude i think this song is about weed. Me and Julio down by the school yard doing something illegal. The parents are angry everytime they hear mention of HER name, that is Mary Jane.Woo.
Rose from Alexandria, VaAnother possiblilty for "Queen of Corona" is that Corona is a well-known street in Brooklyn. Just a thought.
Claire from Portsmouth, EnglandCould thsi not be about an underage heterosexual relationship? Seems to be to be talking about a boy and girl who's families don't approve of the relationship. His mama "gets mad and spit on the ground each time HER name is mentioned" while her papa "says when I catch that boy gonna put HIM in a house of detention." Its against the law becouse they're still at school, so the narrtor has to say goodbye to his girlfriend (Rosie the queen of Corona?)down by the school yard where they used to meet with thier friend Julio, and go on the run. It would also explain the poor grammer - they were always cutting class! Although the use of the present tense to describe the realtionship, not the past tense, hint the young couple will continue to "see" each other.
Tim from Wertewteg, AlThe concensus here is that the song refers to, at least, a homosexual act that the narrator's mother witnesses. This makes sense with the rest of the song. As for "Rosey, Queen of Coronas," that seems rather obvious, if one takes it in a bawdy context...let us remember the rest of the song, after all. The narrator is captured, and is waiting to be "taken away," he is a minor, going to the "house of detention" (at his father's request" it's soemthing so tawdry as to make the "cover of Newsweek"...the song is tongue in cheek and fun, but it is obviously hinting at someting sexual...I doubt masturbation or smoking marijuana would generate such disgust amongst the narrator's own family, as being caught with a school mate engaged in homosexual activity.
Leslie from Lincoln, NeOMG! Rosie--- the Queen of Corona Rosie is his HAND... she is the queen of corona (crown in Spanish) This song is about masturbation... about a circle jerk
Josh from New York, Nythe song title isn't necessarily bad grammar i mean a person would say "this is a picture of me and julio down by the schoolyard" (just an example). and yes that is proper grammar.
Peter from Tacoma, WaI think this song is about alchoholism. Rosie The Queen of Corona is refering to the person that got the narrator and Julio the beer. (Corona)
Peter from Tacoma, WyWhy doesn't someone just ask Paul?
Mike from Atlanta, GaThe music video also featured Spud Webb as a geeky basketball player who trounces the local kids as well as John Madden attempting to give advice to the other players.
Phil from Northborough, MaI think its about when Paul Simon was a kid, when racism was more prevalent than it is today. The name "Julio" is a reference to race. He was hanging out w/ a hispanic boy named Julio, which would have been a big deal back when Paul Simon was a kid. Paul Simon used to be married to Carrie Fisher(when she was attractive), so why would it be about homosexuality(or beastiality for that matter,you sick f**k).
Tommy from Coventry, Englandrosie queen of corona, refers to corona in queens new york. this song i belive is about homosexuality
Rickalan from Tulsa, OkI can't believe no one has put this together. Julio is his dog. You can even hear Julio's moans of pleasure at the tail of the song. Rosie Queen of Corona is the hand he no longer needs...since he's discovered Julio as his partner. Beastiality is a pretty sick topic. No wonder Paul doesn't come clean about it. Listen with this scenario in mind and it all makes perfect sense. RAW-Tulsa
Howard from St. Louis Park, MnThe song was heard in the movie The Royal Tenenbaums when Royal took his grandchildren out on an afternoon of reckless fun.
Charlie from Portland, OrI haven't heard the song recently but if you know that Jackson Brown song rosie "rosie you're allright, you wear my ring, etc.." cleary rosie is his own hand talking about masterbating, so I'm thinking "rosie queen of corona" also reference to masturbation rosie -we know what the corona is..did mama see a little masturbation party?
Phil from New York, NyI believe "Rosie Queen of Corona" is a reference to female private parts; the guy in the song is gay.
Nader from Durham, NcGreat, fun song. Perfectly fits into a scene in The Royal Tenenbaums.
Mike from CalgaryThe CBC just ran a profile of the top ten "gay" referential songs of all time and this was high on the list. I have to agree. They pointed to the fact that in 1972, when this song was written, homosexual activity was illegal in the US in many areas. The priest would certainly have to be "radical" to side with the gay community due to the explicit anti-gay message in the Bible, whereas marijuana use was merely illegal. But the true giveaway was the fugitive having to say goodbye to "Rosie, the Queen of Corona" due to his actions; say no more...
Donja from Berkeley, CaI was really relieved to find that I'm not the only one who's spent valuable time puzzling about what this song is about. I have considered the marijuana, gay and rape possibilities in the past. I have to say I come down on the side of the pot explanation. I discount the rape possibility because, one, I don't like it, and, two, I can't see a radical priest coming to get two rapists released and all of them winding up on the cover of Newsweek. It's hard to choose between the pot and gay explanations, but I lean towards the pot because, hey, it was the 70s and as we learn from "Late In The Evening," Paul Simon was the sort who would find himself underage in a funky bar and would step outside to smoke himself a j. The "against the law" reference also leads me to the pot conclusion, though homosexual contact has been, regretably in my view, illegal in some times and places and may in any case not be literally true but rather a reflection of Mama Pajama's attitude. But the song does say "it was against the law" not "she thought it was against the law." My two cents...
Steve from Rochester, NyAssuming the verb of the song title is "to be", the grammarically correct name would be "Julio and I (are) down by the schoolyard". Since there is no verb, you can't really define the title gramatically anyways.
However, later in the song the lyrics change to "Seeing me and Julio down by the schoolyard". Therefore, with a verb you can analyze the sentence and in this case, the placement of either of the words "Julio" or "me" doesn't matter. "(The people of the town are) seeing me and Julio down by the schoolyard." Stop arguing about it =P.
Kelli from Cedar Rapids, IaThis song is not about rape! The narrator is gay, and his mom walks in on him and his boyfriend, Julio, engaged in sexual activity.
Vez from State College, PaI don't intentially mean to be this dark, it's just the image (disturbing) I get when I think about the lyrics:
Mama woke up one morning and saw a young boy (the main character) and Julio raping a young girl behind the school that she lives near. She is disgusted everytime she thinks about it, and thus, spits on the ground every time her name is mentioned; it's not directed towards the victim, but the atrocity she survived. The boy and Julio are also very young, but were tried as adults and are currently in jail waiting for their sentence.
The only thing is, it has this happy-go-lucky feel to the song which is in complete contradiction to my interpretation. I try not to think about the words when I listen to the song or it ruins it for me. I hope I didn't ruin it for any of you...
Emily from Fresno, CaJust wondering if anyone else has seen the odd parallels between "Me and Julio . . ." and Romeo and Juliet. Consider the following: Rosie Queen of Corona = Rosaline of Verona, the radical priest = Friar Lawrence, Julio = a gender-bending Juliet. Throw in the possibe theme of love/ lust thwarted by short-sighted adults and I think you have some strange coincidences. Correct me if I'm off my rocker.
Corey from Indianapolis, InWho's "Rosie, the queen of Corona"???? Anyone???
Sharon from Davis, CaDaniel Ellsberg wasn't a priest. Maybe you're thinking of Daniel Berrigan, a priest who poured pigs' blood on government papers in protest of the Viet Nam war.
Sam from Champaign, IlI'd always assumed this song was about marijuana. Hence "Me and Julio down by the schoolyard" becomes "Marijuana down by the schoolyard," It makes slightly more sence why Mama Pajama "rolled" out of bed, and it makes a little more sense exactly what was "against the law." Also, there's that bit towards the end - "I don't know where I'm going," although "I'm taking my time," a common sentiment among long-term users of the drug.
Gregmon from Intelbuquerque, NmThere's a funny SNL skit with this song playing, as the background of Paul Simon playing a game of 1:1 with Connie Hawkins of the Atlanta Hawks. The height difference between the two is partially what makes it so comical. I wonder if they attemted to get Dr. J(Julius Irving), which would be more fitting?
Nicole from Apple Valley, MnDavid is correct. So, if we wanted to be grammatically correct it would be "Julio and me Down By the Schoolyard." But that would just be weird.
David from Charleston, Sc"Julio and I..." would be INCORRECT - "see you, me and Julio down by the schoolyard". Break that down to "see me down by the schoolyard" not "see I down by the schoolyard".
Charles from Charlotte, NcThe "radical preacher" in the lyric is a reference to Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame. The leaking of the "Pentagon Papers" was one of the top news stories of 1971 and even made the cover of Newsweek.