I told Will Oldham once, in a diner in 1994, about a Carson episode my friend Rian had told me about, where he asked Paul Simon to break down the lyric to Bridge Over Troubled Water, and Simon stunned the crowd by NOT pulling the I’m-a-genius-artist-go-figure-it-out-yourself move they expected, and instead obliged at depth, to describe his associations and process for each line.
So, my goal in recounting this was to get Will to talk about the ideas behind some of his lyrics, and he was as cool as Simon (yuck that doesn’t sound right) about it.
He explained that this line was his idea of hilarious: the guy’s trying to show how healthy he tried to be, not by going to the gym or eating well, but by staying CANE’S LENGTH from danger. The dude’s inadvertently confessed to using a cane! He must be a skinny, pathetic geezer, puffing himself to be some casanova/lothario. Probably the girl has no idea who he is!
Lisnin to it now, I feel like WIll’s rickety singing amplifies this vision of a wrinkled prune thinkin he’s hot stuff. Multivalent.