I am the tailor’s face and hands

Riding on the bus from Vancouver to Seattle today, I was listening to Simon and Garfunkel songs (an excellent activity for such a trip), when the line in the title of this post jumped out at me from the song “Faking It”.

Those of you who are up on your S&G arcana know that this line is part of a very sly and obscure reference in the song to Paul Simon’s fellow songwriter Donovan Leitch. What struck me about the phrase “I am the tailor’s face and hands” was my realization that it could be dropped into just about any conversation as a kind of ersatz Zen Koan.

Then it occurred to me that it would be really fun to cull other equally curious lines from old pop songs, such as “I wandered through my playing cards”, “to live outside the law, you must be honest”, “I told you when I came I was a stranger”, “the lock upon my garden gate’s a snail”, “the shadow boys are breaking all the laws”, or “blue songs are like tattoos” — I’m sure you can think of many more — and weave them into a dialogue.

Each such little snatch of lyric seems to hint at a mysterious personal story that remains just out of our view. Maybe they could be pieced together into a single consistent narrative, a revelation of secrets of the heart. If this were artfully done, the result might be a lovely story from some alternate and highly evocative universe.

One Response to “I am the tailor’s face and hands”

  1. sally says:

    I have often used Donovan as a koan:

    “First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.”

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