Paul Simon - You Can Call Me Al (by PaulSimonVEVO)
It occurs to me that this music video is, in a way, a predecessor to the Lonely Island SNL digital shorts we’re accustomed to today.
Here you have Paul Simon, who has a long history of popping up on SNL, and Chevy Chase, an original member of the SNL cast. Not only that, the idea for this video was apparently conceived by SNL creator Lorne Michaels and directed by frequent SNL segment director Gary Weis.
None of this meant anything to me as a kid. When this song came out, I was not yet two years old. So grew up with this song - and its video - being part of my cultural life, many years before I would ever know anything about SNL, Chevy Chase, or even Paul simon. As a kid, I just thought this was a two-man band of some sort, and that Chevy was the lead singer. I also had no idea that the other guy in the video (in my head, they were “the singer” and “the other guy”) had been the Simon in Simon and Garfunkel.
Having recently rediscovered the video, however, I’m forced to look at it through a new cultural lens and realize how very much it feels like an SNL skit. From Chevy Chase’s self-important character pulling focus away from the the guy who’s supposed to be the star of the video to Paul Simon’s surprisingly impressive acting (note his facial expressions, body language, and the insecure fidgeting of the shy, trodden-upon character he portrays in this video), this video is incredibly funny, albeit in a more subtle way than many current SNL fans are used to.
Subtle though the humor may be - much of it relying on or accentuated by the height difference between Chase and Simon (Paul looks like a kid next to Chevy, doesn’t he?) - it still feels like it would fit beautifully in an SNL episode of any era, past or present.
So I’m addicted to this video, now. I loved it as a kid for reasons I cannot explain. Something about the song and the visuals alike just spoke to me. But now I have new reasons to appreciate it, and it’s not just that I dig that 80’s T-shirt and blazer look (though I do, and I envy an age when people could get away with that kind of untamed hair that Chevy’s sporting).
If you saw this for the first time in an episode of SNL, would you think it was out of place? Does it depend on the era? Or is it, for you, just another 80’s music video?