In a 1990 interview with SongTalk magazine, Simon said: "In 'Still Crazy After All These Years,' that title phrase came to me first. And it didn't come with melody, either. It just came as a line. And then I had to create a story."
Regarding the unusual chord changes, he added: "I was studying with a bass player and composer named Chuck Israels at the time so I was doing more interesting changes. I was studying harmony with him. Instead of using a minor chord I use a major chord and go up a step. It is hard to get an interesting key change. I also like to write a bridge and just jump a whole-tone up. 'Still Crazy' has that."
On the second episode of Saturday Night Live (airdate: October 18, 1975), Simon hosted the show, which he opened by singing "Still Crazy" alone on stage. This was the song's debut, as the album was released a week later. When Simon returned to the show on November 20, 1976, he once again opened with a performance of this song, this time in a turkey costume (it was the weekend before Thanksgiving)!
During this performance, he stops in mid song, and then is followed backstage griping to producer Lorne Michaels about making him wear the costume. In fact, it was Paul's idea to do this, including the walk-off; he wanted to show he had a sense of humor and didn't take himself as seriously as most people thought.
In 1974, Simon was on The Dick Cavett Show, where he demonstrated how he wrote a song by using a working version of this song as an example. At the time, he had the first two verses, but not the middle part or third verse. He even asked Cavett if he had any ideas on how to finish the song.
Suggestion credit: Ken - Louisville, KY
Simon won the 1975 Grammy award for Best Pop Vocal Performance for this song, and the album won the Grammy for Album of the Year. At the ceremony, Paul Simon got up to make his acceptance speech and thanked Stevie Wonder, who'd won the previous two years, for not making an album that year. And the next year's Album of the Year Grammy went to Wonder again.
Further recognition for Simon includes the very first USA Library of Congress's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2007, and being named one of the "100 People Who Shaped the World" in Time magazine in 2006. You know who else won a Gershwin the very next year? Stevie Wonder.
This is a gentle, reflective song dwelling on middle age. Many Baby Boomers could relate; Simon (as part of Simon & Garfunkel) grew up with the baby boomers (he was born in 1941) and could basically write about whatever was going on in his head and it would also be about what was on many minds within his generation as well. For another song known for showing Paul Simon's humorous, even self-deprecatory side, see "You Can Call Me Al."
This song opens with a Fender Rhodes electric piano played by Richard Tee, who used the phase shifter effect to create the sound. Billy Joel used the same setting on his Rhodes for "Just The Way You Are."
According to the Paul Simon biography Homeward Bound, Simon got the idea for the title one day when he was standing in the shower, thinking about his station in life. He was in his 30s, a father, divorced, and contemplating his next move.
Paul Simon recorded this song with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section: Barry Beckett on piano, David Hood on bass, and Roger Hawkins on drums. These guys owned a recording studio in Alabama where Simon recorded "Kodachrome" and "Take Me To The Mardi Gras" with them, but for "Still Crazy After All These Years," he flew the guys to New York. This changed the dynamic, as Simon, who tends to do take after take and work very deliberately on a track, was taking his sweet time, while in Alabama, they got "Mardi Gras" done in two takes.
When we spoke with David Hood, he explained: "When he was in our environment down here, things worked the way we wanted them to work. In New York, we were in his territory and he spent a whole day just working on the intro of that song while I sat there making double scale. The next day we came in and cut the rest of the song. And that was about it. I made a lot of money just sitting around working on that song."
Simon didn't invent the phrase "still crazy after all these years," but he certainly popularized it with this song. Permutations of the saying have always been floating around for centuries - "still cool," "still in love," etc. But just as he did with the "bridge over" and "50 ways to" phrases, Simon turned it into a memorable song title.
This song is a case of lyrical dissonance, where the music doesn't match the mood of the words. Simon explained in Q magazine, "The song is a bit darker than people think. Because the chorus and the phrase are so suggestive of a long time passing, it has a touch of the 'Auld Lang Syne' to it. I don't think people pay attention to the lyrics of the song, which makes me feel I probably wrote the wrong lyric to it."
Karen Carpenter picked this song to cover for her debut solo album, which is uneasy to contemplate, since she died of anorexia nervosa, a then-unknown psychological illness. In fact, she recorded the album by 1980 and it wasn't released until 1996.
Jules from OregonThere is a magic to this song. Reflections back on life. I feel this song in my bones right now.
Laurie from San FranciscoYou're not crazy. I'm pretty sure Paul sang "crapped out" when he sang this song at the Concert in Central Park.
Ken from Louisville, KyFor years I thought the lyric was "Four in the morning, crapped out, yawning". Then a few years ago I found out that the actual lyric was "tapped out".
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn 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.
Susan from Airdrie, -OMG, Rick Moranis did a hilarious, spot-on impersonation of Dick Cavett on SCTV! I used to watch the impersonation & laugh, not having seen Dick Cavett before, but now it's doubly hilarious!