Rediscovery: I have lately been fascinated with the bewitching melodies of Paul Simon and remembered this gorgeous song from the singer/songwriter’s follow-up to his 1986 worldwide (and worldly) hit Graceland, The Rhythm of the Saints (Warner Bros., 1990). The melody is tremendously lovely, the instrumentation is stupendous and the lyrics, while baffling to me (or quirky as he was wont to be at the time), contain this gorgeous chorus:
Never been lonely
Never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear
Nothing denied to
Born at the instant church bells chime
Whole world whispering "born at the right time"
Written, of course, by the singer himself, the song is performed wonderfully by Simon on guitar and vocals with Vincent Nguini and J.J. Cale on guitar, C.J. Chenier on accordion and Armand Sabal-Lecco and Bakithi Kumalo on bass and Felix Sabal-Locco on drums, with an orchestral percussion section featuring Ya Yo de la Nelson on chakeire, Sidinho on conga, bass drum and bottles, Dom Chacal on conga, Mingo Araujo on conga and go-go bells and the lovely choir of Florence Gnimganon, Charlotte Mbango, Felicite Fouda and Elolongue Mbango Catherine. Not sure exactly what it means. Just when you think he might be talking about something Biblical, he's off joking about spending "those Euro dollars." But it was certainly the very best song on the album.
“Born at the Right Time” was issued as a single in Europe (only, I think), but since it wasn’t issued in the U.S. as a single, it probably did not get the attention it deserves. It’s a beautiful pop song that deserves some of the cover attention from jazz players that a lot of Paul Simon’s earlier music received.