Paul Simon drops a couple of F bombs and the word ‘shit’ in his new single “Cool Papa Bell.” The single is from Simon’s new album “Stranger to Stranger,” due June 3rd. Like its predecessor, “Wristband,” this song is bass heavy with an unusual construction that echoes Simon’s songs stretching from “Cecilia” to “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” to “Boy in the Bubble.” The cursing is ironic. Simon probably thinks he can’t get played on radio anymore so why not do whatever he wants. What can I say? I think he’s brilliant, one of the greatest artistic innovators.
“Cool Papa Bell was a baseball player in the Negro Leagues from 1922 to 1950,” Simon observes in the album notes. “He was considered one of the fastest men ever to play the game. Legend has it that Bell could turn off a light switch and be in bed before the light went out. He once bunted a triple. A friend gave me a painting of Cool Papa Bell, and somehow he found his way into a song.”