Street Angel

Album: Stranger to Stranger (2016)
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Songfacts®:

  • This features the Italian electronic dance music artist Clap! Clap!, who had made an album called Tayi Bebba, blending African field recordings and EDM. Simon told Rolling Stone the record is "a masterpiece."

    The pair met up in 2015 when Paul Simon's world tour touched down in Milan, Italy. Simon played him a work in progress, and he ended up putting his sound on three of the tracks ('The Werewolf,' 'Wristband' and this one)." "My 23-year-old son Adrian is a composer and he told me about him," Simon told Rolling Stone. "He takes African sound samples and puts digital dance grooves behind it. His newest album is a masterpiece. He makes music sound new and old at the same time."
  • Clap! Clap!'s warbling beats are intertwined here with a slurred vocal loop which was sampled from gospel group The Golden Gate Quartet. Simon slowed them down and then played them backwards, which sounded as if they were saying the words "street angel" along with some other phrases. He wrote the song from those sounds. "I really like it when the idea for the song comes from outside and not within," Simon said during a promotional appearance. "I like to respond to the stimuli. It's more fun to edit than it is to face a blank page. These sounds and the way they sounded backwards were the lyrics that I used – 'took him away in an ambulance' was another example. It becomes an interesting story that I'm relating to the listener from someone else's narrative."

    The Golden Gate Quartet were previously sampled by Paul Simon in 2011 for his So Beautiful or So What track "Love & Blessings."
  • The "Street Angel" character appears again on another Stranger To Stranger track, "In a Parade."

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