Paul Simon’s forthcoming album In The Blue Light is full of new versions of his old songs. But all signs are pointing to something more interesting than a simple retread. There’s the tracklist, for one thing, which avoids obvious picks like “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and “You Can Call Me Al” in favor of less shopworn Simon songs, many of them coming from his 21st-century albums. There’s also the backing players, which include jazz monsters like Bill Frissell and Jack DeJohnette, as well as the contemporary classical ensemble yMusic, which has backed Simon on tour lately.
So far, we’ve heard “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor” and “Can’t Run But.” Today Simon released “Rene And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War,” a tribute to the great surrealist painter that originally appeared on his 1983 pre-Graceland album Hearts and Bones. The new version feels like distilled essence of the old, removing the backing vocals, reverbed-out drums, and rollicking piano—almost everything but Simon’s voice and a sumptuous string arrangement, played by yMusic. You can hear it below, and the original “Rene And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War” after that. In the Blue Light is out September 7 on Sony Legacy.