Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

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"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"
PAUL SIMON me and julio.jpg
Single by Paul Simon
from the album Paul Simon
B-side "Congratulations"
Released May 1972
Format 7"
Recorded 1971
Length 2:44
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Paul Simon
Paul Simon singles chronology
"Mother and Child Reunion"
"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"

"Mother and Child Reunion"
"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"
Music video
"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" on YouTube

"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" is a song by American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. It was the second single from his second self-titled studio album (1972), released on Columbia Records.

Lyrical subject[edit]

Time Magazine cover featuring Berrigan

The song is about two boys ("Me and Julio") 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.

The meaning and references in the song have long provoked debate. In a July 20, 1972 interview for Rolling Stone, Jon Landau asked Simon: "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 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] while the "radical priest" has been interpreted as a reference to Daniel Berrigan,[2][3][4] who was featured on the cover of Time on January 25th, 1971,[5] near when the song was written.


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.[6]


In 1988, Simon released a video for the song to promote his greatest hits compilation Negotiations and Love Songs. The video was filmed at Mathews-Palmer Park in Hell's Kitchen, which was standing in for Halsey Junior High School in Forest Hills, Queens, the neighborhood in which Simon grew up and met Art Garfunkel in high school. 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.[7] The video depicts adults interacting with the youth of an inner-city schoolyard. It shows Simon playing basketball and stickball 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.


Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard


Performances by other artists[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The song appears in a montage in the 2001 film 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 film The Muppets, and during the opening credits in Real Women Have Curves.[citation needed]

Simon himself performed the song on Sesame Street,[8] along with a girl who backed him up singing "Dance dance dance all right/dance dance dance all right/Everybody dance," etc.

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.[9] It was also featured in an SNL skit paying homage to Wes Anderson as a trailer of a movie in his distinct style.[10]

Simon performed the song with Stephen Colbert on the September 11, 2015 episode of The Late Show.[11]

Chart performance[edit]



  1. ^ Paul Simon, "Isn't It Rich", The New York Times Book Review, Oct. 31, 2010, p. 10.
  2. ^ Gibson, David (1 April 2016). "Daniel Berrigan, anti-war priest, dies at 94". Religion News Service. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  3. ^ Lewis, Daniel (30 April 2016). "Daniel J. Berrigan, Defiant Priest Who Preached Pacifism, Dies at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "Daniel Berrigan, leading Catholic pacifist, dead at 94". Crux. 1 April 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  5. ^ "Rebel Priests: The Curious Case of the Berrigans". 25 January 1971. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  6. ^ McGowan, Chris; Pessanha, Ricardo (1998). The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil. Temple University Press. p. 170. ISBN 9781566395458. Retrieved 10 March 2018. 
  7. ^ "SEE, HEAR: Paul Simon ft. Biz Markie & Big Daddy Kane — "Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard" Music Video (1988)". article. Retrieved 2014-05-04. 
  8. ^ "Sesame Street: Paul Simon Sings Me & Julio". YouTube. 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2016-10-07. 
  9. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-10-07. 
  10. ^ Collective, Hybrid (2015-06-04), SNL Wes Anderson, retrieved 2018-04-16 
  11. ^ Rosenbaum, Marty (2015-09-14). "Stephen Colbert Brings Paul Simon "Tribute" Band Troubled Waters To Late Show [Watch] « WXRT". Retrieved 2016-10-07. 
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  13. ^ "RPM100: Singles" (PDF). RPM. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada. 17 (15). May 27, 1972. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  14. ^ "The Programmers' MOR Playlist" (PDF). RPM. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada. 17 (16). June 3, 1972. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  15. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  16. ^ " – Paul Simon – Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  17. ^ [Flavour of New Zealand, 24 July 1972]
  18. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 499. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  19. ^ "Paul Simon Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  20. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, May 20, 1972
  21. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X. 


External links[edit]