A Night with LL Cool J and Paul Simon

December, 1987

Got a call from the NY Times to photograph Paul Simon and LL Cool J.  Plan was to meet the great music writer, Stephen Holden at Paul’s apartment, and take a limo out to Queens.    Paul had grown up on doo wop in Queens. Graceland had come out that year and he was deep into African music.

LL Cool J was living with his grandmother in Queens and just discovering doo wop.  We arrived and his grandmother opened the door.  Her living room furniture was covered in vinyl to keep it safe.   She was sweet, and showed us the way to the basement where LL lived.    We spent the night with LL playing all this doo wop for Paul - he was so into it.   Paul played LL all this african music.   The whole time, his grandmother kept yelling down, “TURN IT DOWN.”

Listening to my favorite LL CD - Mr Smith - Make it Hot

and this new Paul Simon album - “So Beautiful of So What.”   I listened to it for a week straight.  On the train.  All day working.  In my dreams.  It just got under my skin.   Have no clue who did this video from the title track but I love it.

And I love these lines from “Questions for the Angels”:

If you shop for love in a bargain store And you don’t get what you bargained for Can you get your money back? If an empty train in a railroad station Calls you to its destination Can you choose another track?