Psalm/Psong for April 12 – “Rewrite” by Paul Simon

The age of media players and electronic readers has probably trashed the whole idea of Desert Island disks or books – those 10 (or however many) albums or things with pages that you’d take with you if you were going to be stuck on a Desert Island. Nowadays, you can pack so much media onto a music player or an electronic reader, why would you settle for only 10? But I like the idea of keeping such a list, even though some of the items on my lists change from moment to moment.

All that is a preamble to saying that this psong reminds me of one of my Desert Island Books: You Must Revise Your Life, by the late great poet William Stafford. I initially read this little gem because I had devoured his other book in that same “Poets on Poetry” series, Writing the Australian Crawl. Both these books are such great little primers for being alive, in addition to being made more alive by writing. Even if you aren’t a writer, you really ought to read both these books, if only to get William Stafford’s voice in your head.

Back to the music. I love this psong’s humorous take on the act of praying, and living, how the two are indistinguishable, even if you use a different word for what we churchy people call prayer. This entire album “So Beautiful So What”, which was released yesterday, makes theology so enjoyable.

I bet a whole lot more people would go to church if it took on the ambiguities and the ups and downs of life with the grace, insight, humor, melody, and rhythm that Paul Simon does on his new record. Especially the humor. I’m doing my part to bring humor back into church, but I sure could use some help mucking the stalls; the poop’s been piling up for millennia.

Who’s with me?

Lyrics to “Rewrite”:

I’ve been working on my rewrite, that’s right
I’m gonna change the ending
Gonna throw away my title
And toss it in the trash
Every minute after midnight
All the time I’m spending
It’s just for working on my rewrite
Gonna turn it into cash

I’ve been working at the carwash
I consider it my day job
Cause it’s really not a pay job
But that’s where I am
Everybody says the old guy
working at the carwash
Hasn’t got a brain cell left since Vietnam

But I say help me, help me, help me, help me
Thank you!
I’d no idea that you were there
When I said help me, help me, help me, help me
Thank you, for listening to my prayer

I’m working on my rewrite, that’s right
I’m gonna change the ending
Gonna throw away my title
And toss it in the trash
Every minute after midnight
All the time I’m spending
Is just for working on my rewrite, that’s right
I’m gonna turn it into cash

I’ll eliminate the pages
Where the father has a breakdown
And he has to leave the family
But he really meant no harm
Gonna substitute a car chase
And a race across the rooftops
When the father saves the children
And he holds them in his arms

And I say help me, help me, help me, help me
Thank you!
I’d no idea
That you were there
When I said, help me, help me, help me, help me
Thank you, for listening to my prayer

© 2010 Words and Music by Paul Simon

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2 responses to “Psalm/Psong for April 12 – “Rewrite” by Paul Simon

  1. Joy,

    Thank you for posting this psong. I loved it. Not only is it a great commentary on prayer; as a contemporary of Paul Simon’s I find it a wonderful statement on aging as well. The idea of “rewriting” one’s life at our age is so appealing, but to couple that with the idea of living as a prayer and with the grateful acknowledgment that, as much as we may struggle to rewrite what we have lived, no rewrite is necessary. Grace gives us credit for what we intended as well as for what we have lived. Thanks again.

  2. “I’m doing my part to bring humor back into church, but I sure could use some help mucking the stalls; the poop’s been piling up for millennia.”

    Sort of like the Augean Stables . . . . But please don’t give up.

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