Paul Simon – “The Obvious Child” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Paul Simon’s “The Obvious Child” reflects on life’s journey, the inevitable progression of time, and the human experience of change. It’s a song that delves into themes of aging, acceptance, and the cycle of life. Simon uses the term “obvious child” to represent the undeniable truth and reality we all face but often choose to deny.

Wondering about the inspirations and the subtle nuances in the lyrics of “The Obvious Child”? Keep reading to explore this captivating song’s profound layers and compelling story!

“The Obvious Child” Lyrics Meaning

The journey starts with Simon portraying a sense of accustomed comfort, possibly reflecting his earlier years, marked with a smooth ride. He seems to question this comfort, hinting at a loss of naïveté and introducing a theme of growing up and facing reality: “Or maybe I’m a dog who’s lost its bite.”

He invites us to ponder the nature of reality and truth with the recurrent line “Some people say a lie’s a lie’s a lie, But I say why, Why deny the obvious child?” It encourages listeners to confront their truths, their “obvious child,” which symbolizes the undeniable aspects of life and existence.

The reference to “remembering a road sign” and “remembering a girl when I was young” serves as a reflection of his youth, a time when “we said these songs are true, These days are ours, These tears are free.” The nostalgia contrasts life’s cycle with youth’s joy and innocence.

Simon intertwines elements of faith and acceptance with “The cross is in the ballpark.” It’s as if he is trying to reconcile faith with reality, exploring how beliefs fit into the everyday experiences of life.

The character “Sonny” seems to represent a generic everyman, going through life’s typical phases: growing up, moving away, getting married, having children, and facing responsibilities. “Sonny gets sunnier, Day by day by day by day” implies a relentless optimism or perhaps a façade amidst the growing pressures of life.

The subtle portrayal of rooms as cages, the idly thumbing through high school yearbooks, and the acknowledgment of those who have died or fled underscore the poignant reflection on time, change, and mortality.

The Story Behind “The Obvious Child”

Known for his thoughtful and reflective songwriting, Simon often blended personal experiences with profound observations about life, society, and the human condition.

When writing this song, Simon was likely grappling with his own journey, the process of aging, and the transformation of his perspectives. The contemplative tone of the song mirrors his introspective nature and his constant pursuit to understand the complexities of life and existence.

The song seems to be a meditative exploration rather than a narration of specific personal experiences. It offers a space for Simon to ponder over themes of existence, aging, reality, faith, and truth, while inviting listeners to partake in this reflective journey.

The infusion of diverse themes and the narrative’s richness demonstrate Simon’s ability to transform his musings into a universal dialogue about life and its inherent truths. This universality, combined with the genuine exploration of his thoughts and experiences, makes “The Obvious Child” a resonant and enduring piece in Simon’s discography.

“The Obvious Child” serves as a musical canvas on which Simon paints his reflections, musings, and inquiries, creating a timeless exploration of life that invites listeners to reflect on their “obvious child,” their undeniable truths, and their journey through life’s ballpark.