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|
|Paul Simon singles chronology|
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", while the "radical priest" has been interpreted as a reference to Daniel Berrigan, who was featured on the cover of Time on January 25th, 1971, near when the song was written.
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. 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
- Paul Simon - vocals, acoustic guitar, whistling
- David Spinozza - acoustic guitar
- Airto Moreira - percussion
- Russell George - bass guitar
- Paul Simon - vocals, acoustic guitar
- Larry Knechtel - piano, Hammond organ, electric piano
- Hal Blaine - drums
- Joe Osborn - bass guitar
Performances by other artists
- Simon and Garfunkel performed the song as a duet during their 1981 benefit concert in Central Park; this version also appears on the live album of the concert that was released in 1982, The Concert in Central Park.
- The punk rock cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes covered "Me and Julio" on their 1997 album, Have a Ball.
- Jack Johnson also covered this song in a medley following the song "Sexy Plexi", available on the J.O.T.C. bootleg compilation.
- Dave Matthews Band covered the song live a handful of times in 1992, 1993, and 2001.
- 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.
- Other artists who have performed this song live include Pat McGee Band, Julie Doiron, and Peter Bjorn and John during a session for Morning Becomes Eclectic.
- New York singer/songwriter Jesse Malin covered this song on his April 7, 2008 covers album On Your Sleeve.
- Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra has covered the song.
- Grant-Lee Phillips covered the song in an episode of Gilmore Girls.
- It appears on Streetlight Manifesto's cover album, 99 Songs of Revolution: Volume 1.
- A version of the song was included on a compilation of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra titled "Greatest Hits of the '70s".
- fun. cover this song occasionally in concert, most notably at Bonnaroo 2012.
- New York Voices covered the song on their album The Songs of Paul Simon.
- Reina del Cid performed this song as part of the Sunday Mornings with Reina del Cid video series on YouTube.
In popular culture
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.
The song plays in the second episode of Saturday Night Live, during a Weekend Update segment where Simon plays basketball. It was also featured in an SNL skit paying homage to Wes Anderson as a trailer of a movie in his distinct style.
- Paul Simon, "Isn't It Rich", The New York Times Book Review, Oct. 31, 2010, p. 10.
- Gibson, David (1 April 2016). "Daniel Berrigan, anti-war priest, dies at 94". Religion News Service. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- Lewis, Daniel (30 April 2016). "Daniel J. Berrigan, Defiant Priest Who Preached Pacifism, Dies at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "Daniel Berrigan, leading Catholic pacifist, dead at 94". Crux. 1 April 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "Rebel Priests: The Curious Case of the Berrigans". TIME.com. 25 January 1971. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- 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.
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- Collective, Hybrid (2015-06-04), SNL Wes Anderson, retrieved 2018-04-16
- Rosenbaum, Marty (2015-09-14). "Stephen Colbert Brings Paul Simon "Tribute" Band Troubled Waters To Late Show [Watch] « WXRT". Wxrt.cbslocal.com. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
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- [Flavour of New Zealand, 24 July 1972]
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 499. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
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- Cash Box Top 100 Singles, May 20, 1972
- Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.