"A Simple Desultory Philippic" as written by and Paul Simon....
I been Norman Mailered, Maxwell Taylored
I been John O'Hara'd, McNamara'd
I been Rolling Stoned and Beatled till I'm blind
I been Ayn Randed, nearly branded
Communist, 'cause I'm left-handed
That's the hand I use, well, never mind

I been Phil Spectored, resurrected
I been Lou Adlered, Barry Sadlered
Well, I paid all the dues I want to pay
And I learned the truth from Lenny Bruce
And all my wealth won't buy me health
So I smoke a pint of tea a day

I knew a man, his brain was so small
He couldn't think of nothing at all
Not the same as you and me
He doesn't dig poetry
He's so unhip that when you say Dylan
He thinks you're talking about Dylan Thomas
Whoever he was
The man ain't got no culture
But it's alright, ma, everybody must get stoned

I been Mick Jaggered and silver daggered
Andy Warhol, won't you please come home?
I been mother, father, aunt and uncled
Been Roy Haleed and Art Garfunkeled
I just discovered somebody's tapped my phone

Folk rock
I've lost my harmonica, Albert


Lyrics submitted by kevin

"A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd into ...)" as written by Paul Simon

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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A Simple Desultory Philippic song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentJerrybear is right, however I wouldn't necessarily say that this song is exactly a subterrean homesick blues parody, rather just a parody of Dylan's folk rock in general.

    My question is what type of relationship Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel had, there seems to be some dislike between the three.
    HowardTCoon November 05, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a spoof on Bob Dylan, specifically, his song "Subterranean Homesick Blues" which is sung in a similar talking blues/rapping style. The line "It's alright ma, everybody must get stoned" references two different Dylan songs: "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" and "Rainy Day Women" which has the "everybody must get stoned" refrain.

    At the end of the song are some additional words that are not shown here: "Folk Rock!" and "I lost my harmonica, Albert!" Folk rock was the genre that Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel were a part of. Albert refers to Albert Grossman, Dylan's manager at the time. Many of Dylan's songs featured harmonica solos.
    Jerrybearon May 10, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentjerrybear, I'm glad you left this comment, because when i heard this song I was very confused!! I wondered if maybe it actually was Dylan.. but the wprds didn't exactly seem to be his style. thanks!
    moldbyhandon December 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust want to comment, that this song contains one of my favorite lines ever: "I've been Art Garfunkeled!"

    This is a fun song. It brings out the goofy side of Paul Simon. Just fun to listen to :) .
    audioafanon July 01, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe "I lost my harmonica, Albert" may be a reference to a '64 Dylan show where he was quite intoxicated and forgot the words to "It's Ok Ma" and then lost his harmonica during "Tambourine Man".

    I love the 3rd verse that makes fun of us hipsters in general. I love Bob Dylan and appreciate his great writing and social commentary but Dylan Thomas is a literary genius. Bobby knew this as well and reportedly borrowed his name.
    watermansethon August 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI definitely agree that this song is a parody of Dylan's style in almost any conceivable way (music, lyrics, instrumentation, accent). Nonetheless, I don't think it is a malicious one. Note that Simon and Garfunkel covered Dylan's "The times they are a-changing" - they must have found something valuable in Dylan's work after all.
    This song is thoroughly crafted in a way that reminds me of a mixture between tongue-in-cheekly exposing Dylan's idiosyncrasies and simultaneously kind of commending him. In order to imitate someone at this level, you must know him extremely well and spend a lot of time practising. I understand the song as a way of saying "Hey, you do have some obvious peculiarities, but they are worth a whole song of mine". Otherwise, this would have been a complete waste of early album space at a point in time where Simon and Garfunkel just started rising.

    A different, yet interesting analysis of the song can be found at morethings.com/music/beatles/…


    teepfauon November 28, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is the first time i've heard this song... and i laughed my ass off. i had to come to songmeanings to see what everyone else thought of it. excellent!
    pandacolaon February 08, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentInitially I thought they had just been influenced by Bob Dylan's music, until I heard the Dylan Thomas line :)
    Burrichon June 20, 2010   Link

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