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#1
Old 09-24-2001, 10:25 AM
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Location: London, UK
Posts: 493
I really like this Graceland track, but in all the years I've enjoyed it I've never had the first clue what he was thinking when he wrote it.

To remind you, the lyrics are :

Quote:
Over the mountain
Down in the valley
Lives a former talk-show host
Everybody knows his name
He says there's no doubt about it
It was the myth of fingerprints
I've seen them all and man
They're all the same

Well, the sun gets weary
And the sun goes down
Ever since the watermelon
And the lights come up
On the black pit town
Somebody says what's a better thing to do
Well, it's not just me
And it's not just you
This is all around the world

Out in the Indian Ocean somewhere
There's a former army post
Abandoned now just like the war
And there's no doubt about it
It was the myth of fingerprints
That's what that old army post was for

Well, the sun gets bloody
And the sun goes down
Ever since the watermelon
And the lights come up
On the black pit town
Somebody says what's a better thing to do
Well, it's not just me
And it's not just you
This is all around the world

Over the mountain
Down in the valley
Lives the former talk-show host
Far and wide his name was known
He said there's no doubt about it
It was the myth of fingerprints
That's why we must learn to live alone
I did find one site that guesses the song is 'About the commonalities shared by people around the world, despite
historical & other differences' which sounds like a cop-out to me.

Watermelons? Talk show hosts? What is he talking about?!
#2
Old 09-24-2001, 12:06 PM
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Location: East Coast USA
Posts: 3,079
Hi Reuben

Love your sandwiches, BTW.

I think the verses are distracting. I take the song to mean that none of us has a unique identity, no matter what we think.

Well, the sun gets bloody
And the sun goes down
Ever since the watermelon.

I take this to mean that the sun rises and sets (gets bloody) since the dawn of time (assuming that the watermelon is an old and primative plant).

Chrome
#3
Old 09-24-2001, 01:21 PM
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Location: Washington, D.C.
Posts: 7,931
That certainly comports with the title. The promise of fingerprints is that everyone has something unique about them. If that's a myth, it means that the uniqueness is an illusion.

--Cliffy
#4
Old 09-24-2001, 01:29 PM
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Location: Walnut Creek, California
Posts: 1,367
I've always felt that the talk show host was a reference to Jack Parr, the host of the Tonight Show after Steve Allen left and before Johnny Carson. (For you kids, this is the show Jay Leno hosts). He did it for a couple of years and then quit saying something to the effect that he wasn't going to keep on doing the same interview.
#5
Old 09-24-2001, 01:30 PM
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I don't think it means that people aren't really unique, but that superficial differences (fingerprints, skin color, etc.) don't make people really different. (A simplistic view maybe, but then again, I first analyzed these lyrics back in high school as part of a poetry project in English class. I had no idea what the watermelons were all about, and evidently my teacher didn't either, so she let that slide )

As for the talk-show host, I assume it just refers to someone who has made a career of meeting and talking with a wide variety of people, and found that they're not as different from each other as some would have us believe.
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#6
Old 09-24-2001, 02:48 PM
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Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
Posts: 2,640
Well, I'm a big Paul Simon fan, but I think it is a mistake to over-analyze his lyrics. They may not mean anything. I think he often just writes stuff because he likes the sound of it. Or it had some transitory meaning to him at the time of writing. I mean, the guy is a great musician, but a philosopher? Well...

There was a similar thread about "Me &Julio" (what were they doing down by the schoolyard?). I searched, but couldn't find it.

Some other PS thoughts:[list][*]1.)Paul, it's time to retire, my man. The old S&G stuff: classic. Early solo work: loved it. Graceland: one of my all-time faves. Rhythm of the Saints: Good stuff. Since then, not so great. And that version of "Bridge..." on the celeb telethon the other night: pure crap.[*]2.)Art Garfunkel: luckiest man alive. The only reason anyone has even heard of this marginally talented singer is because he was Paul's college buddy.[*]3.) Kiss my ass, Opal!
#7
Old 09-24-2001, 09:44 PM
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Can I take a WAG? It'll be wild indeed, and probably rambling into the bargain, since I really should be asleep, and I don't have a psychic connection to Paul Simon.

Quote:
It was the myth of fingerprints
I've seen them all and man
They're all the same
We make such a big deal about every person being a unique individual - the fingerprints - but, wherever you go, people are similar in more ways than they are different. Me, some bloke living in Kenya and an Inuit; chances are we're all looking for something like a roof over our heads, enough to eat and some peace and love.

Quote:
Well, the sun gets weary
And the sun goes down
Ever since the watermelon
A memory thing, maybe. Perhaps one of his memories from childhood is sitting on the back steps eating watermelon. Kind of a "the more things change, the more they stay the same" thing.

Quote:
Well, it's not just me
And it's not just you
This is all around the world
Going back to that myth of individuality.

Quote:
Out in the Indian Ocean somewhere
There's a former army post
Abandoned now just like the war
And there's no doubt about it
It was the myth of fingerprints
That's what that old army post was for
One of the saddest things about humanity, imho, is this propensity we have for making "us and them" distinctions. Taken to its ultimate expression, "us and them" - one expression of the myth of fingerprints, of individuality - is war.

Quote:
He said there's no doubt about it
It was the myth of fingerprints
That's why we must learn to live alone
Until we can really get to grips with the idea that, really, we're all the same, we're going to keep on separating and dividing. Not just in big groups (one country or one group against another) but on the individual level. We think, "Nobody will understand, nobody's been in exactly this situation" and isolate ourselves when, in fact, there are probably a few thousand people within cooee who'd know exactly what we're on about. So we live alone, because we're caught up in the myth of fingerprints.



I could win a gold medal in the drawing of mile-long bows, in case you couldn't tell.
#8
Old 09-24-2001, 10:17 PM
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Tapswiller wrote:

3.) Kiss my ass, Opal!

Love it. Funniest thing I read all day. The world really has changed, hasn't it?
#9
Old 09-25-2001, 07:16 AM
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I don't have any real insight into the lyrics, most of what was said above about the myth of uniqueness works for me. I just wanted to add that in classic misheard lyrics style, I was so sure that one line was:

"Elvis is the watermelon"

You know, the whole Gracleand thing. Makes as much sense as the real lyrics if you ask me, which nobody did.
#10
Old 09-27-2001, 06:33 PM
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I have no idea what this song is about, but I do remember being a bit disillusioned some years ago to find out that "Mother and Child Reunion" was about a plate of chicken and eggs Paul ate one time at a Chinese restaurant. I wouldn't hold out much hope that "The Myth of Fingerprints" has a profound meaning in light of this.
#11
Old 09-28-2001, 07:37 AM
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Posts: 1,237
It's about identity. Mostly.

The talk show host doesn't have to be a specific talk show host...he just has to be a guy who's whole job was talking to all the famous people who wre supposed to be so unique and special, not only compared to average schmoes but even compared to each other, and finds that it's just not true.

Not totally sure about the army post is about. Armies certainly depend on conformity to an extent. Perhaps it just lends an air of secrecy and mystery to the song.

The chorus means shit. My guess is it was the first part of the song he came up with, and just sort of left it in there even after he decided what the rest of the song would be about.
#12
Old 06-13-2017, 06:29 PM
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Maybe it should be taken more literally.

FROM TRANSCRIPT OF PBS Frontline 2012 "The Real CSI":
LOWELL BERGMAN (CORRESPONDENT):
For generations, the FBI and their fingerprint examiners have maintained that fingerprint identification is "infallible," routinely testifying that they are "100 percent certain" and there's "zero percent" chance they could be wrong.
Judge DONALD SHELTON, Circuit Court, Michigan:
Fingerprint examiners have been taught that there's only one person in the world who could have left this fingerprint. There's no scientific basis for that.
LOWELL BERGMAN:
[on camera] Wait a second. There's no scientific basis for matching, like, a partial fingerprint?
Judge DONALD SHELTON:
The premise is that no two people have the same fingerprint. That's the scientific premise. Is that true?
LOWELL BERGMAN:
I thought so.
Judge DONALD SHELTON:
Has there ever been a scientific study to demonstrate that that is true? I don't think so. But even more important, how much alike do they have to be before you say that that fingerprint came from this person? What is the standard for how many points of comparison?
LOWELL BERGMAN:
What's the standard, Judge?
Judge DONALD SHELTON:
It varies from laboratory to laboratory, and from witness to witness often. And some will say, "We need 16 points." "No, seven." And what they all end up saying is that it's really a matter of the individual experience and judgment of the fingerprint examiner.
* * *
LOWELL BERGMAN:
Ken Moses is a veteran fingerprint examiner who has investigated more than 17,000 crime scenes in his 40-year career.
KENNETH MOSES:
I can see a lot of detail on those prints.
LOWELL BERGMAN:
[on camera] When you're looking at this partial print versus the known print, when do you decide that it's a match? How do you decide it's a match?
KENNETH MOSES:
At some point, you are examining this evidence, and based on your training and experience, you make a leap of faith.
LOWELL BERGMAN:
You make a leap of faith?
KENNETH MOSES:
It's a point of decision making. It's where you go from doubt to no doubt. That's a leap of faith."
[http://pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/fi...i/transcript/]
#13
Old 06-13-2017, 07:15 PM
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I realize this is a very old zombie thread, but, while we're here... "The Myth Of Fingerprints" is the song Simon supposedly stole from Los Lobos. So maybe we should be asking what they were on.

http://stereogum.com/9106/david_...est_pri/video/
#14
Old 06-13-2017, 08:08 PM
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I did not know that. Interesting.
#15
Old 06-14-2017, 02:52 PM
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I guess in Paul's mind, it's a myth that Los Lobos left any semblance of fingerprints on the song.
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