Paul Simon’s “American Tune” mourns a weary nation

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Image by Peggy Simon

In 1973, the mood of the U.S. populous was grim.  The country was weary from a protracted war in Vietnam,  and in 1973 it was coming to an end.  At the same time, Chrysler and a number of other U.S. auto makers closed a number of factories affecting hundreds of thousands of workers.  The U.S. President, Richard Nixon told the  nation he was “Not a crook” while he was being investigated for the cover-up of a politically motivated break-in at the Watergate office tower in Washington D.C,  and the Supreme Court made abortion a constitutional right.

It was a heady time.  So, in 1973 Paul Simon thought about all of this, and wrote the following words:

Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but I’m all right, I’m all right
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home


I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees
Oh, but it’s all right, it’s all right
For lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
We’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong

The name of the song is “American Tune“, and it’s a song that has been a part of my life for decades, but today it has a much deeper meaning. This morning, as I sat eating breakfast in the Quiet Cup, I listened again holding back tears as the words fell from Simon’s lips.

Think of America today and listen to this song, and you will hear the heart of a nation breaking. Today we are even more divided politically. So many of our arguments are settled by bullets or courtrooms and not so much with compassion and love.  Our President is under investigation for colluding with the Russians to influence the outcome of the election.   While times are good economically, morally I think we have lost our way.

It’s the poets,  songwriters, and God bless them, the free press who will save this country. We must listen to the truth and listen to our hearts and talk to one another as neighbors and fellow Americans. We must question the authenticity of what we read on social media, and pursue the prosecution of the corrupt.

I don’t know what Paul Simon thinks of what’s going on today in America, but I would imagine he would say something quite similar about the current state of affairs.

This is my favorite verse:

Oh, we come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune


Oh, it’s all right, it’s all right
It’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest

You can listen to the song by playing the below video clip.