As the world mourns the late great composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, many fans are sharing their favorite stories from Boulez's long and distinguished life. One story remembered by some of our staff here at YourClassical is the story about Boulez inspiring Paul Simon's 1986 hit song "You Can Call Me Al."
It's true — according to Simon himself, the song's absurd chorus was inspired by a short exchange with Boulez at a party.
Here are the lyrics to the song's chorus:
If you be my bodyguard
I can be your long-lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al
As biographer Marc Eliot recounts in Paul Simon: A Life, "Paul likely got the title from something he overheard at a party he hosted, where he met the conductor and composer Pierre Boulez for the first time. As he was leaving, Boulez called Simon 'Al,' and the humor of the situation stuck with him."
According to Songfacts, the French composer also misheard the name of Simon's then-wife Peggy. Want to guess what Boulez called her?