"You can call me Al?" Why?

I love this song but what the hell, if anything, is it about? And specifically what is the title line supposed to mean?

could it be any clearer? It’s a song written about the peril that the musician “Weird Al” Yankovic had to go through where the press would try to get on a first name basis by saying “hi there Weird!” when he’d just prefer to be called Al.

ok…I’m stumped.

The theory that I’ve heard (and one that I have heard absolutely no evidence or corroborating testimony from Simon to support said theory), is that the song mirrors Dante’s Divine Comedy and the Inferno.

Dante’s last name was Alighieri. Thus, “Al”.
Dante’s guide in the Divine Comedy was his ex-flame, Beatrice. Thus, “Betty”.

The rest of the argument revolves around the YCCMA main character being thrust into a trip through incredibly odd and foreign lands, as is the DC main character. It’s a pretty weak correlation, but interesting to discuss.

[nitpick]Dante’s guide to Heaven was Beatrice (mmm, green eyes). Dante’s guide to Purgatory and Hell was Ovid.[/np]

[nitpick of a nitpick]Dante’s guide to Hell and Purgatory was Virgil, not Ovid[/nitpick of a nitpick] :wink:

[nitpick^3] While Vergil did the actual tour guiding, 'twas Beatrice that actually set things in motion. So, in a sense, she was his “guide”. [/nitpick^3]

Or, you may even say that Beatrice was Dante’s bodyguard (or soulguard, I suppose) and he was a long last pal.

What leads you to the conclusion that Paul Simon lyrics have to make sense?

Admittedly, this is somewhat of an aberration. Most of the time his lyrics are deep, or meaningful, or both. Regarding your OP? I have no idea.

DOn’t mind me , folks: I cannot help, but am wandering in here jsut so that I can “subscribe to thread” so that I can learn the answer too. :slight_smile: Yeah, I have opened a google window to have a look, but I reckn if the answer was easy to find , it would have been foudn in abut 2 minute. Ah well, the joy of the hunt! :slight_smile:

At first I was thinking that Betty and Al might be two characters from pop culture that I somehow missed or forgot but it looks like the answer isn’t nearly that simple.

Celyn sits down at the computer
It’s a computer in Glasgow
Maybe she’s bored at work
Maybe she’s just passing time
Stops into Café Society
She wants a Paul Simon Education
Doesn’t see the answer
So tries to help Cisco out
Google search, Google search
Still doesn’t find the answer
But places hope in the SDMB
She wants an e-mail, an e-mail
To alert her of any updates
But she doesn’t have to post to the Thread
To get those updates anymore

If you click on Thread Tools
You can choose Subscribe to Thread
Then they’ll send you e-mails
And Celyn when they e-mail you
They’ll e-mail you now


I remeber an interview where Paul Simon said the chorus bit comes from an actual party where some guy kept calling Paul “Al”, and his wife “Betty”. The rest of the song is midlife angst and his trip to South Africa to do “Gracelands” rolled into one.

Mr Dribble’s version is pretty much what I remember hearing.

The version I heard, from a BBC programme (radio 2 I think), about either Paul Simon, or the Graceland album. The version I remember has Pierre Boulez at the party, who, when he leaves, says something like ‘Goodbye Al, and say goodnight to Betty’.

I think Paul gave that story himself on the programme.

Dude, you are talented!

Agreed. That was good!

Okay, how about in the “ever since the watermelon” line in “The Myth of Fingerprints”? I finally figured out that he wasn’t singing “Elvis is the wateremlon,” but the real line doesn’t make since to me either.

And what about “Baby Driver,” “Why Deny the Obvious,” and “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”? Do those lyrics mean anything?

Heh. Paul Simon’s lyrics are models of clarity compared to stuff that Jon Anderson of Yes cranked out!

From “Olias of Sunhillow”


Simon and Garfunkle, “Baby Driver”

See? He’s a model of clarity!

Anyway, Betty is obviously Betty Ford, former first lady, and recovering alcoholic, and founder of the Betty Ford clinic, where celebrities go to get detoxed, wash toilets, and have their denial shattered, by everyone calling them “Al”, which is short for Alcoholic. :wink:

QtM (who has invited a few “Bettys” to call him “Al” when they call him)

I leave the computer for the day and I come back to compliments!!! :slight_smile:
Awww, Thank You!
(I’d use the “blushing” smilie except I don’t like it because I don’t think it looks like it’s blushing- it looks like it’s yawning.)

Actually, Baby Driver’s about railroading and sex. A driver is a powered wheel in a locomotive. Baby driver would be a smaller powered wheel. The rest sort of falls into place.

At least, that’s what I’ve always thought.