Where have you gone, Mickey Mantle?
Doesn't have the quite the same ring as Joe DiMaggio, does it?
Yet the interesting thing about Paul Simon's classic song, Mrs. Robinson, is that the singer's favorite player was Mantle.
Catching up on some reading over the weekend, I came across Nicholas Dawidoff's excellent feature on Simon in Rolling Stone magazine and found a very entertaining anecdote about Simon, his love for baseball and the classic song from The Graduate.
Here it is, from Dawidoff, the author and former Sports Illustrated writer, who obviously spent much time with Simon while reporting the story:
"Near the entrance to Simon's office, there are several framed pictures of baseball players, among them Jackie Robinson, the Negro Leagues star Buck O'Neil, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and a fleet of other New York Yankees.
"I like baseball," he says. "Probably my favorite thing. When it comes to the end of life, I'll say it was baseball and music. That'll be it."
What Simon savors most about the sport is line drive.
"That feeling of the ball hitting the bat so perfectly, you don't feel it," he says. "It's like writing a great line. You don't even feel it. You think, Ahhh! It's perfectly concise. Anybody who has not experienced it can't understand."
His favorite player was Mantle, who, when he met Simon, wanted to know why, if that was the case, DiMaggio was the one Simon had immortalized in song. Simon explained about syllables, how it helps when they glide along for awhile. When Simon encountered DiMaggio in an Italian restaurant, the Yankee Clipper also had questions:
"What does that mean -- Where have you gone?"
He let Simon know he hadn't gone anywhere. He was doing ads for Mr. Coffee. Simon told DiMaggio about the potency of vanishing heroes. As for the line itself, how it came to him at age 26, all Simon has ever been able to say is, "I don't know where it came from, but all of a sudden it was there."
You can read the entire Simon piece at RollingStone.com by gaining access to their digital archive here. It's great stuff. Simon's new CD, So Beautiful or So What, is getting rave reviews.
Likes: If you haven't read it yet, Jane Leavy's biography of Mickey Mantle, The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood, is the best thing I've read on one of America's icons. Very well done. ... Great day to be an American, today. Not just knocking off Osama bin Laden, but to do so in such breathtaking manner, with such a clean hit and no American injuries ... bravo, troops.
Dislikes: Aw, Simon should have been on the cover of Rolling Stone, not that goofy Steven Tyler.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
"Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you
"What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
"Joltin' Joe has left and gone away
"Hey hey hey"
-- Paul Simon, Mrs. Robinson