Hearts and Bones
was a commercial disaster, the lowest-charting new studio album of Paul Simon
's career. It is also his most personal collection of songs, one of his most ambitious, and one of his best. It retains a personal vision, one largely devoted to the challenges of middle-aged life, among them a renewed commitment to love; the title song was a notable testament to new romance, while "Train in the Distance" reflected on romantic discord. Elsewhere, "The Late Great Johnny Ace" was his meditation on John Lennon
's murder and how it related to the mythology of pop music. Musically, Simon
moved forward and backward simultaneously, taking off from the jazz fusion style of his last two albums into his old loves of doo wop and rock & roll while also incorporating current sounds with such new collaborators as dance music producer Nile Rodgers
and minimalist composer Philip Glass
. The result was Simon
's most impressive collection in a decade and the most underrated album in his catalog.