My Favorite Music Videos, Part Seventeen: Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’ (with Chevy Chase)

There are performance music videos and then there are…mock performance music videos. As I’ve said before, most performance videos aren’t very good, if the only purpose of the video is to show an artist/band doing just that. The worst part of the performance video is usually–they’re not really playing the instruments.  But it’s set up to look like they are.

Many videos show the subjects “playing” instruments…but that’s usually in the background and not the point (or plot) of the video. It’s more to show us the band members and give them some face time.

Today’s video, 1986’s “You Can Call Me Al,” features Paul Simon and Chevy Chase “performing” the video. The best part is Simon starting to lip-sync the lead vocal track–then, upon seeing that Chase has instead taken over the vocals, he quits with a hurt betrayed self-pitying look on his face.

Along the way Simon “plays” a penny whistle, a saxophone, a conga drum and a bass guitar along with the appropriate musical parts in the song.

Chase, meanwhile, really overplays his part, with exaggerated hand gestures and comical facial expressions.

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(If the video won’t load or play for you, try this link instead.)

Wikipedia says this about the video:

Paul Simon did not like the original music video that was made, which was a performance of the song Simon gave during the monologue when he hosted Saturday Night Live in the perspective of a video monitor. A replacement video was conceived partly by Lorne Michaels and directed by Gary Weis, wherein Chevy Chase lip-synced all of Simon’s vocals in an upbeat presentation, with gestures punctuating the lyrics. Chase, at 6’4″, towered over the much shorter (5’3″) Simon.

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