1973: Paul Simon - “Kodachrome”

On his song “Kodachrome,” Paul Simon sings a very peculiar line that jumps out from the rest of his lyrics: “everything looks worse in black and white.”

What strikes me about those lyrics is that rock music, like many aspects of American culture, seems to be concerned with nostalgia, treasuring vivid personal memories and perhaps some that didn’t even happen in the first place. “Kodachrome” renounces these sentiments, preferring to look to the future and appreciate the present, at least when comparing it to the past. Paul also one-ups the sentiment by specifying that the photos in question are in “black and white,” assuring us he’s talking about his childhood and (more importantly) teenage years — or the golden years, according to parents and movies.

Of course, when lyrics refer to photographs, they usual talk about yearning for better days gone by, but Simon prefers to capture today — the bright colors, the “greens of summer.” He does a great job writing a song about “right now” instead of the good ol’ times. To me, it seems like something harder to write about since not many dare to do it.

When Simon played “Kodachrome” live during his big post-Graceland resurgence, he changed the line to “everything looks better in black and white,” proving that very few people are strong enough to avoid being punched by the feeling of nostalgia. After all, to yearn is human.


There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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