"How Can You Live in the Northeast" as written by and Paul Simon....
We heard the fireworks
Rushed out to watch the sky,
Happy go lucky, fourth of July

How can you live in the Northeast?
How can you live in the South?
How can you build on the banks of a river
When the flood water pours from the mouth?

How can you be a Christian?
How can you be a Jew?
How can you be a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu?
How can you?

Weak as the winter sun, we enter life on earth.
Names and religion comes just after date of birth.
Then everybody gets a tongue to speak,
And everyone hears an inner voice,
A day at the end of the week to wonder and rejoice.

If the answer is infinite light
Why do we sleep in the dark?

How can you live in the Northeast?
How can you live in the South?
How can you build on the banks of a river?
When the flood water pours from the mouth?

How can you tattoo your body?
Why do you cover your head?
How can you eat from a rice bowl
The holy man only breaks bread?

We watched the fireworks 'til they were fireflies.
Followed a path of stars over the endless skies.

How can you live in the Northeast?
How can you live in the South?
How can you build on the banks of a river
When the flood water pours from the mouth, from the mouth?

I've been given all I wanted,
Only three generations off the boat.
I've harvested and I've planted.
I am wearing my father's old coat.


Lyrics submitted by GrungyBeatle

How Can You Live in the Northeast song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentIf the answer is infinite light why do we sleep in the dark??? well said...well said
    soulJIVEon June 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwow only one comment. i think this song is much like his song the myth of fingerprints. We create our own differences we arnt born with them "Names and religion comes just after date of birth" good song but not his best work.
    Jaws201020on August 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI find the point of the song more to be empathy. Simon first makes the point that everything is subject to questioning by someone else. Somewhere, there's someone, who thinks your way of life is absolutely nuts. It's important to remember this, especially just as this album was being written (just after 9/11/01), because we need to realize that down deep we are all made up of the same things. On the surface, though, we are all vastly different and it's just as important for us to recognize. The challenge is to empathize with each other for those differences and recognize that it makes the world that much richer. There's something to learn from every one.
    I particularly love the "everyone hears an inner voice" because it accentuates that idea that inside we're all the same. Just because we get a "different tongue" to speak the musings of that inner voice, doesn't mean it's any less, or more, important than anybody else's.
    Empathy, really is, the only hope for world peace.
    Jag3892on April 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentreference to Jesus: The holy man only breaks bread?
    Yes empathy and compassion is a must. But to empathize with another's religion and way of life is nearly impossible. In the name of Allah extremists kill, Christians heckle others about hell, some Hindu's in India want to rid other practicing Christians in their nation, Buddhists rid their desire and believe in no soul and no God, and Jews are the seemingly most innocent who are persecuted and scapegoated for society's ills. Paul Simon is right in his observation to say "How can you?" Even Atheists say "How can you?" in their absolute resolve against beliefs in a God or higher deity. Humanity is divided. Makes me believe something went wrong at the start of Creation and something is brewing to unite us all. Personally that is where my faith comes in. We may not empathize with other people's beliefs but as a blessed loving person said "we ought to respect someone else's faith.'
    GrungyBeatleon March 12, 2009   Link

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