Paul Simon – Kodachrome

I put on Paul Simon’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon and Kodachrome popped out of the speakers. It hit me that it is a song about a long gone photographic artifact playing on what some believed was another long gone artifact – my beloved turntable.

Kodachrome was Eastman Kodak’s branded still and movie film  introduced in 1935. It had a good run finally being discontinued in 2008. The last available Kodachrome processing was in December 2009.

Paul Simon’s Kodachrome was released on May 19th of 1973 as a 45 with the song Tenderness on the B-side. It was first released May 5th, 1973 on the album There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. Paul Simon shared production credit with the great Phil Ramone.

Kodachrome debuted at #82 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and peaked at #2 six weeks later.

It’s not clear if the original song title was “Going Home” or “Coming Home”.  Even though Simon says that he really didn’t know that Kodachrome was a brand name, it just had the same sound as “Going Home” or “Coming Home” and was “less controversial”, so Kodachrome is was. Given what we hear in music today, the controversy of “Going Home” or “Coming Home” escapes me.

The song did poorly chart-wise in the UK because the BBC had a strict policy about songs that promoted products.

Some other fun facts about this song from Song Facts.

  • Some Top 40 radio stations edited out the word “crap” in the opening verse as it was viewed as too explicit and disrespectful to the teaching profession.
  • Paul thought he was getting a Jamaican horn quartet for “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” , but it turned out to be four white guys from the south who wee the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section who had recorded with the Staples Sisters. “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” was recorded quickly allowing studio time to record “Kodachrome” which was done in two takes at Alabama’s Muscle Shoal Studios.

Bottom line – this was his third solo album and first album after he and Art Garfunkel stopped recording and performing together and most believe he did not put out a musically better album until 1986’s Graceland.