Music Video of the Day: You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon (1986, directed by Gary Weis)


How did Chevy Chase come to star in a music video?

It all started with a case of mistaken identity.  Paul Simon and his then-wife were at a party where they met French composer, Pierre Boulez.  Boulez was not sure who Simon was and repeatedly called him “Al.”  At the same time, Simon was suffering from a mid-life crisis that would not be resolved until Simon visited South Africa.   Simon brought the two incident together when he wrote You Can Call Me Al, the lead single off of his 1986 album, Graceland.

As for the video, it was the brainchild of Lorne Michaels.  Michaels, of course, is best known for producing Saturday Night Live and it was his idea to combine the tall and extroverted Chevy Chase with Paul Simon, who was neither of those things.

Lorne Michaels and Chevy Chase have had a long history together.  Michaels originally hired Chase for SNL and was instrumental in Chase’s early success.  Chase reacted to his sudden success by leaving SNL after its first season and subsequently trashing the show in interviews.  When Chase first returned to host SNL, he got into a fist fight with his successor, Bill Murray.  Chase’s subsequent appearances on the show have become legendary for Chase’s obnoxious and absuive behind-the-scenes behavior.  (In 1986, for example, Chase suggested a sketch in which openly gay cast member Terry Sweeney would announce that he had AIDS and then be regularly weighed throughout episode.)  Eventually, Chase managed to become the first former cast member to be banned from appearing on the show.

Paul Simon, though, is still welcome anywhere he goes.