Just what was it that ‘Mama Pajama’ saw down by the schoolyard?
The lyrics of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Paul Simon’s[/lastfm] song “Me and Julio Down by Schoolyard” clearly indicate that the unnamed protagonist and Julio were engaged in some sort of activity worth reporting to the police and getting arrested for, but they never explain just what it was they were doing there.
Released in 1972, the song was Simon’s second solo release following his breakup with partner [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Art Garfunkel[/lastfm]. While a catchy, upbeat tune, its lasting legacy may be the debate over exactly what the lyrics mean.
At the time some speculated that it was about an arrest at an antiwar protest on a college campus (the “schoolyard”), or even a “radical priest.”
In a 1972 interview, Simon said he really had no idea what the incident down at the schoolyard was supposed to be. ‘Something sexual is what I imagine, but when I say ‘something’ I never bothered to figure out what it was.’ This rather vague explanation did absolutely nothing to stop speculation, which continues to this day.
In 1988, 16 years after the initial release, Simon cut a video to promote the song’s inclusion in a compilation album. The star-studded effort features Simon goofing around in (appropriately) a schoolyard with a number of notables. Rappers [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Big Daddy Kane[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Biz Markie[/lastfm] lead off before Simon goes on to play basketball with Spud Webb and stickball with Mickey Mantle. John Madden closes things out, giving a classic performance as, well, himself.
For those who want to see what “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” might have sounded had Simon & Garfunkel remained together, check out their 1981 performance from the Concert in Central Park.
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