Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

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"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"
Single by Paul Simon
from the album Paul Simon
A-side "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"
B-side "Congratulations"
Released May 1972
Format 7" (45 rpm)
Recorded 1971
Genre Soft rock, Adult contemporary
Length 2:44
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Paul Simon
Producer(s) Paul Simon & Roy Halee
Paul Simon singles chronology
"Mother and Child Reunion"
(1972)
"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"
(1972)
"Duncan"
(1972)

"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" is a song by American singer-songwriter Paul Simon from his 1972 self-titled album.

Lyrical subject[edit]

The song is about two boys who have broken a law, although the exact law that has been broken is not stated in the song. When "the mama pajama" finds out what they have done, she goes to the police station to report the crime. The individuals are later arrested, but released when a radical priest intervenes.

In a July 20, 1972 interview for Rolling Stone, Jon Landau asked: "What is it that the mama saw? The whole world wants to know." Simon replied "I have no idea what it is... Something sexual is what I imagine, but when I say 'something', I never bothered to figure out what it was. Didn't make any difference to me." This implies that Paul Simon left the crime up to the imagination of the listener, allowing each person who listens to the song to draw their own conclusion from their own thoughts and experiences. This has not stopped speculation on a definite interpretation: commentators have detected references to recreational drug use, and believe that the mother saw the boy buying drugs. More recently, in October 2010, Simon described the song as "a bit of inscrutable doggerel."[1]

The percussion sound in the song, unusual for American pop, was created with a Cuica, a Brazilian friction drum instrument often used in samba music.

Video[edit]

In 1988, Simon released a video for the song to promote his greatest hits compilation Negotiations and Love Songs. The video filmed at Halsey Junior High School, in Forest Hills, Queens, NY. This was the same neighborhood within which Simon grew up and met Art Garfunkel in High School. It was also the same neighborhood where Julio, the subject of the song, had died in nearby P.S. 220.[citation needed] Many of the children featured in the video were from that same school.

It features an introduction by hip hop emcees (and then-fellow Warner Bros. Records label mates) Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie. Main Source member Large Professor also makes a minor cameo towards the end.[2] The video depicts adults interacting with the youth of an inner-city schoolyard. It shows Simon playing basketball and baseball with the children, and it also features basketball player Spud Webb, baseball legend Mickey Mantle, and football coach-commentator John Madden giving tips to young athletes.

Performances by other artists[edit]

  • Jack Johnson also covered this song in a medley following the song "Sexy Plexi", available on the J.O.T.C. bootleg compilation.
  • Wheat quotes "Me and Julio" in their song "Body Talk (Part 2)".
  • In 2003, the band !!! released a single called "Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard", a play on the title of this song, referring to Rudolph Giuliani.
  • fun. cover this song occasionally in concert, most notably at Bonnaroo 2012.
  • Kate VanPetten covered the song on the WESN 88.1FM local show in 2014.

In popular culture[edit]

The song appears in a montage in the 2001 movie The Royal Tenenbaums directed by filmmaker Wes Anderson. It also appears in the film A Home at the End of the World, over the opening credits of Maid in Manhattan, The Simpsons episode "Holidays of Future Passed", within The Muppets, and during the opening credits in Real Women Have Curves.[citation needed]

Simon himself performed the song on Sesame Street.[3]

Canadian musician Sam Roberts performed a shortened version of the song on the Kids' CBC program Mamma Yamma, altering some of the lyrics to fit the scene he was in.[citation needed]

The song plays in the second episode of Saturday Night Live, during a Weekend Update segment where Simon plays basketball.[citation needed][4]

Charts[edit]