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(Credit: David Byrne Facebook)


Watch David Byrne and Paul Simon sing 'You Can Call Me Al'


Sometimes the musical stars align to create something so perfect and so obvious that you can’t believe it had never happened before. The idea that Paul Simon, with his penchant for rubbery guitar lines and world music influences, and David Byrne, with his elastic funk lines and love of offbeat rhythms, had never sung together before 2008 is mind-blowing.

But it’s true: it took all the way until the late 2000s for Byrne and Simon to get together for the world’s most natural duet. When it did eventually happen, it was only natural for it to happen at both Byrne’s and Simon’s home city of New York, where Byrne hopped on stage during Simon’s residency at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Naturally, Byrne gravitated towards the slinky silliness of the Graceland hit ‘You Can Call Me Al’.

If there’s one song that overlaps the most between Simon’s South African-citing solo music and Byrne’s early-1980s worldbeat fascination in Talking Heads, it would be ‘You Can Call Me Al’. Byrne seems like a prime candidate to shout out the half-coherent and half-nonsense narrative of the song, and the bouncing beats seem like they could have come right off of side two of Little Creatures.

Byrne didn’t seem to quite get his fill of the jaunty pop-rock tune back 2008, because three years later, he was back on stage with Simon and his band to break out another rendition of the track. There’s something about the pure amount of delight and sheer level of gusto that Byrne brings to his performance that is infectious – Simon’s next to him, but he cedes the spotlight, understanding that Byrne is on a roll and that he should just allow the former Talking Heads frontman to let loose.

Not even a slight fall on the drum rise while dancing after the second chorus can slow Byrne down. Instead, he leaps back up with a smile that’s half-enthusiasm and half-embarrassment. Luckily, he’s none the worse for wear as Byrne jumps right back into the song’s rhythm, hitting the song’s third verse a little more power than he had the first two times around. The crowd gives him a loud cheer as Byrne rises back to his feet and keeps going.

Appropriately enough, Simon returns the favour of Byrne’s guest spot by taking on Talking Heads’ ‘Road to Nowhere’ as well. Even though Byrne does the first verse solo, you can see Simon mouthing all the words along with Byrne. It’s a sweet indication that Simon is just a big a fan of Byrne, even if Simon happens to be almost an entire generation older.

Check out ‘You Can Call Me Al’ and ‘Road to Nowhere’ down below.