NEW CANAAN, Conn.—Following a recent school event for his youngest son, singer-songwriter Paul Simon issued a personal statement asking for others to “please, in the name of all that is holy, stop calling me ‘Al.'"
His plea continues: “When my single ‘You Can Call Me Al’ first released in 1986, concertgoers and interviewers alike started calling me ‘Al.’ Each one thought they were the first person to think of it, and they’d usually say it with a wink, or a pat on the shoulder, and then would laugh at their own joke. For the first week or so, it was mildly amusing at best. After a month, it was outright annoying. That was 29 years ago, and it’s time to stop.”
Attendees at the school event that pushed Simon over the edge reported that another parent, 55-year-old John Marin, introduced himself to Simon by saying, “Do you mind if I call you ‘Al’?” Marin reportedly winked at the end of his question, which triggered a Pavlovian response in Simon, who had to be restrained by other parents. Through the clutches of these bystanders, Simon called Marin an “unimaginative buffoon” who, like countless others, has “grossly oversimplified a song about the universality of midlife crises.”
“I don’t see why he got so upset,” said Marin. “I just wanted to let him know, in my own unique way, that I was a fan. I mean, didn’t he tell us it was OK to call him that?”
Simon estimates he has been called “Al”—primarily by middle-aged white men while winking—no fewer than 17 trillion times since the song’s release.