Paul Simon - You Can Call Me Al (1986)
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“You Can Call Me Al” is a song by American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. It was the lead single from his seventh ...
“You Can Call Me Al” is a song by American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. It was the lead single from his seventh studio album, Graceland (1986), released on Warner Bros. Records. Written by Simon, its lyrics follow an individual seemingly experiencing a midlife crisis. Its lyrics were partially inspired by Simon’s trip to South Africa and experience with its culture.
Released in September 1986, “You Can Call Me Al” became one of Simon’s biggest solo hits, reaching the top five in seven countries.
Paul Simon did not like the original music video that was made, which was a performance of the song Simon gave during the monologue when he hosted Saturday Night Live in the perspective of a video monitor. A replacement video was conceived partly by Lorne Michaels and directed by Gary Weis, wherein Saturday Night Live alum Chevy Chase lip-synced Simon’s vocals, with gestures punctuating the lyrics as Simon lip-synced to the backing vocals and brought in various instruments to play when they respectively appear in the song. (The 6’4″ Chase moving in unison with the 5’3″ Simon also provides an amusing contrast.)
“You Can Call Me Al” became one of Simon’s biggest hit singles as a solo act. In the United States, however, it initially fared poorly, reaching number 44 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1986. As sales and acclaim for Graceland grew, culminating in a win for Album of the Year at the 29th Annual Grammy Awards in February 1987, the single experienced a resurgence in sales and airplay. After making a second entry on the Billboard Hot 100 in March, the song rose to a peak of number 23 in May 1987.
The song fared even better outside of the U.S., making the top ten of several European charts. In the UK, it spent five weeks in the top ten, reaching number 4 in October 1986.