Just one day before Paul Simon kicks off his 2016 tour at Jazz Fest in New Orleans he shared new track “Cool Papa Bell.” It’s a summertime ode to Bell, the legendary baseball player hailed as “the fastest man on Earth,” sings Simon. The song is on his latest LP Stranger to Stranger, in stores on June 3rd.
On the song, Simon meditates on topics from the exact location of Heaven (six trillion light years away, according to Simon) to the word “motherfucker”: “Ubiquitous and often heard,” Simon sings. “As a substitute for someone’s Christian name/And I think, yeah/The word is ugly, all the same.”
Stranger to Stranger is the result of five intense years of work. “There are a lot of preconceptions [about my new work] because I have been familiar to the public for 50 years,” Simon told Rolling Stone earlier this month. “They go, ‘Is it going to be Graceland? Is it going to be ‘Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard?’ Simon and Garfunkel? The Capeman?’ To get people to listen with open ears, you have to really make something that is interesting because people are prepared for it not to be interesting.”
Simon will play select tracks from Stranger to Stranger on his summer tour, but the bulk of the show will center around tunes from his extensive catalog. “They wanna hear ‘You Can Call Me Al,'” he told Rolling Stone. “So I play it. It’s not like I would pick out ‘You Can Call Me Al’ and play it because I really want to, but people like it so much that I’m like, ‘Of course I’ll do it.’ I’ll play ‘Me and Julio [Down by the Schoolyard]’ too, though I actually like ‘Me and Julio.'”