Duncan (4:43)

Cover of Paul Simon

From Paul Simon and 10 other releases

“Duncan” is the second song on, and third Hot 100 hit from, Paul Simon’s February 1972 album Paul Simon, his first solo endeavor after the dissolution of the duo Simon & Garfunkel. The song was also released as a single in July 1972 as “Duncan” b/w “Run That Body Down”.

A ballad in E-minor, “Duncan” tells the story of Lincoln Duncan, a fisherman’s son. An inability to fall asleep in a cheap motel due to the loud sex that a couple is having next door sends Duncan off on a long reverie. He recalls his decision to leave “the boredom and the chowder” of his hometown in the Canadian Maritime Provinces and head towards New England. He recalls running out of money, losing his virginity to a young female street preacher – “just like a dog I was befriended” – and finally lying on the ground at night and thanking God for his musical (and broader tactile/sensual) abilities.

Between the stanzas, the song features instrumental interludes, played on 2 flutes, by Los Incas, an Andean group which had previously collaborated with Simon & Garfunkel on “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)” in 1970.

Duncan” peaked at #52 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in 1972


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Couple in the next room bound to win a prize
They been goin' at it all night long
Well I'm tryin' to get some sleep
But these motel walls are cheap

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics


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  • henryheimlich

    Now this is just too beautiful.

    13 Mar 1:07am Reply
  • Oppressotron

    1st time I heard this song, my jaw dropped and found my self hitting the repeat button about a dozen times. Just gave me chills and still does. Another enchanting song of desperation.

    30 Oct 2014 Reply
  • groovious1

    In fact there are not flutes here but QUENAS, an old traditional Peruvian instrument with five holes, Simon was in Cusco and is a confessed admiror of a music heritage from thousands years ago like you can reach in the Andes, "El condor pasa", one of his hits, is also an old traditional folk song in Peru...

    24 Nov 2013 Reply
  • megansdream

    Amazing song !! Love it .....

    6 Jul 2013 Reply
  • Tron1276

    GREAT. The flute is fantastic.

    11 Jan 2013 Reply
  • sam91387

    <3 sweet new england

    8 Jul 2012 Reply
  • DavidSmith98

    not dissing this song, but it sounds like a lesser 'if i could' by simon & garfunkel..still very cool, a bit similar though.

    12 Mar 2012 Reply
  • prominence_la

    Yes, that flute. Enchanting.

    3 Mar 2012 Reply
  • MarcusAurelio

    This is enjoyable.

    20 Feb 2012 Reply
  • glacialgem

    I know, I know I know I know! LOL

    6 Nov 2011 Reply
  • kato1984

    The flute :)

    21 Aug 2011 Reply
  • crazyweezee


    24 Jul 2011 Reply
  • ReducedCapacity


    22 Jul 2011 Reply
  • karmapolice41

    im glad to see this one has some shouts, i felt like me and my buddy lewis were the only people that really appreciate it for how brilliant it is. it really may be one of the best songs ever written, and its so simple. those lyrics can give you chills 4-5 times every time you listen. the version with the peruvian band from "live rhymin'" is my favorite.

    31 May 2011 Reply
  • fergalmc

    I know, I know I know I know!

    1 Dec 2010 Reply
  • the_stars


    18 Nov 2010 Reply
  • leekpie

    LOVE IT.

    17 Nov 2010 Reply
  • Hanare

    Absolutely, absolutely stunning.

    29 Sep 2010 Reply
  • uppis5

    15 Jul 2010 Reply
  • trenthamfolk

    Even now that sweet memory lingers, I was Playin' my guitar and lyin' underneath the stars, just thankin' the Lord for my fingers... for my fingers... Sigh...

    23 Apr 2010 Reply
  • All 42 shouts

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