Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard

I seem to remember reading that someone (Gore Vidal? Norman Mailer?) suggested that this song was an account of a childhood homosexual tryst, and Paul Simon’s response was something like “I don’t know what his childhood was like but mine wasn’t like that.” Google doesn’t help. Does anyone know more about this? :confused:

I think that may have been Vidal. Simon apparently said he didn’t know that it was about.

I don’t think you’ll find any consensus as to what it’s about, if anything.

If I remember correctly, in Simon’s 1972 Rolling Stone interview he was asked “what the mama saw,” and his response was something like “I don’t know. Something sexual, I imagine.”

I always sort of guessed that that Paul and Julio were smoking pot down by the school yard and that’s what the mama saw that was against the law. Sex never occurred to me before I read this thread.

As an addendum to my post above, I would like to add that a lot of pot heads (as I was for many years) tend to interpret all kinds of songs, movies, books, etc. as being secretly about getting high.

You know those fantasies you have, like, if you ever met a certain celebrity, the conversation you’d have? It had always been one of mine to meet Paul Simon, and say, “All right, it’s been more than 30 years. I have got to know. What the hell were you and Julio doing down by de schoolyard!!!”

But now he says he doesn’t know.


I had a conversation just this past weekend about what it could possibly be that Paul and Julio were doing down by the schoolyard. Possibilities included selling drugs, selling porn, and having sex. Then it occurred to us that most likely, the “radical priest” mentioned in the third verse probably wouldn’t be campaigning for the release of drug dealers/pornographers/homosexuals.

What strikes me funny now is that my friend and I, both longtime pot smokers, didn’t even think that that’s what they could have been doing.

How can he not know? Didn’t Simon write the song and lyrics?

I always thought the singer was sleeping with the underage Rosie, gets caught, has to run away rather than go to the house of detention, agrees to meet his friend Julio down by the schoolyard, and is saying goodbye to Rosie, the queen of Corona.

Corona, by the way, is a neighborhood in Queens, one of the five boroughs of New York City, quite close to where Paul Simon (and I, not that that matters for this discussion) grew up. It had (when I was growing up, not sure about Simon) a large Latin population, hence the names “Rosie” (presumably a nickname for “Rosa”) and “Julio”.

That’s a pretty thorough explanation. :slight_smile: I like it!

I always interpreted that as a bit of double entendre.

“Rosie” is also slang for the hand, as used in masturbation. Back in the day (the70s) the slang used to be “I have a date with Rosie tonight,” meaning I don’t have a date at all, but will be spending the evening with my rosy palm. And “corona” in addition to being a neighborhood near Queens is also a term for the tip of the penis.

So when the singer is saying “Goodbye Rosie, Queen of Corona,” I took it to mean he no longer needs to masturbate, since he’s found a new source of pleasure in Julio.

So in other words, I think it’s a homosexual tryst song.

Which would explain why the mother and father are so mad, and why a radical priest gets involved.

I read some old threads here and according to this it was Truman Capote, not Vidal or Mailer.

Look, there’s a simple way to resolve this debate. Does anyone know which issue of Newsweek featured this as the cover story?

Isn’t there a hot dog/papaya stand in Queens named Queen of Corona or King of Corona or Corona King that has benn around since the 50’s?

Its often the case that lyricists (and poets) write words that have no concrete meaning even to themselves. They write for the sounds of the words themselves and for the visceral emotion that phrase elicits. The resulting ambiguity ends up being more than a side-effect, however, by adding more mystery, depth, absurdity, or profundity to the piece as a whole.

Simon says he didn’t have anything specific in mind - of course he might be lying. It may be personal to him, or he might just want to keep people guessing in order to give an air of mystery to the song. I personally don’t think he had anything in mind because the context of the entire song wouldn’t make sense. Why would two boys having sex, or smoking pot, or masturbating make the cover of Newsweek?

Could be. I’m familiar with (and have been since I was a child in the sixties) the Lemon Ice King of Corona, but that was ices, not hot dogs.

Seems to be a bit of a stretch to me. I mean, really, mom and dad are going to be mad enough when they catch the singer sleeping with, and possibly knocking up, their daughter. And Simon is definitely a writer identified with New York, and a former resident, or near-resident, of the neighborhood in question.

My partner wrote a song where one of the chorus lines is “One piece of leather to tie me down”–she gets more questions about that one line than everthing else she’s written (3 CDs full). Her answer: it’s just a song! It doesn’t mean anything![/hijack]

Ah, but they didn’t make the cover until “radical priest come to get me released”–that’s where the news is: they got out of jail free.

But before the radical priest comes “the press gives the story ink.” I’m in the it doesn’t mean anything camp myself.

Here ya go. Feel free to dissect.
Artist: Paul Simon Lyrics
Song: Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard Lyrics

The mama pajama rolled out of bed, and she ran to the police station
When the papa found out, he began to shout, and he started the investigation
It’s against the law, it was against the law
What the mama saw, it was against the law.