“Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel (1970)

I sailed through my childhood and teenage years with only a passing knowledge of even Paul Simon’s solo stuff, with the exception of Graceland and “Late In The Evening”. I’m sure some of S&G’s catalog crossed my ears (beyond “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, which was ubiquitous on Lite FM radio), but I wouldn’t have been able to point out specific tunes by them until I was an adult.

Steve Cook was a security guard at the Tower Records I worked at. Corn-fed white boy, came from Nebraska or Utah or one of those places where they build pale dudes with thick-ass necks. Was the Whitest dude I’d had the experience of meeting in New York City prior to that point (the generic Caucasians didn’t really arrive until the hipster influx in North Brooklyn a decade later), but he was a good dude, he loved music, he had a sweet pad on the Upper East Side (damn near Harlem) that he was somehow able to afford on a salary of $6.50/hour (he shared it with his girlfriend, who I presume made a lot more money), and he turned me on to Simon & Garfunkel.

I might be getting the details of this story (slightly) wrong, but I remember hanging at Steve’s apartment with another store security guard named Donnie one night in winter ‘94. I must have slept there also, because we got off work at 12:30 and I wasn’t gonna take the train home an hour and a half at 3 in the morning. At any rate, I’m pretty sure Steve had a copy of Bridge Over Troubled Water on CD. “Cecilia” immediately stuck out to me! Whatever the percussion is-stomping, clapping-it’s infectious! There’s a tin flute! Sorry to anyone who has had to hear acapella groups mangle this though. And sorry to anyone who has had to picture (young or old) Paul Simon or Art Garfunkel making love, thanks to the song’s lyrics (a little racy for 1970, eh?)

NOT QUUITE FIVE STARS…

“Caught Up In The Rapture” by Anita Baker (1986): Lush? Plush? Anita Baker’s makeout classic Rapture is both these things and so much more. And there are very few songs lusher or plusher than Rapture’s semi-title track.

Anita’s voice cascades down this song like thick maple syrup over a stack of pancakes. She sounds a little drunk, almost–clearly caught up in the rapture of something. You know how when you’re really sprung, you can’t totally collect your thoughts and you wind up saying things without rehearsing them in your head first? Yeah, that. Most of us have experienced it. Most of us are completely unable to put into such passionate form, whether spoken or sung.

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