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"It was against the law," Paul Simon sang. "What the mama saw? It was against the law."

It's one of the great enigmas of pop music — what exactly did she see? The song is Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard. But what incident is it describing? It made the mama "spit on the ground every time my name gets mentioned," according to the mysterious lyrics, and made papa determined to stick him "in the house of detention."

In a couple of days
they come and take me away
but the press let the story leak.

And when the radical priest
come to get me released
we's all on the cover of Newsweek.

It's bothered me for years, so I finally researched the song on Wikipedia.

(Click here for the mp3)

Was it about an anti-war protest (attended by famous anti-war priests)? A covert reference to a schoolyard drug deal? A violent street fight? Truman Capote even thought the song was about homosexuality.

Paul Simon seemed to enjoy the ambiguity. (In the song's chorus he sings "I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.") Wikipedia ultimately records his definitive answer to the controversy.

In a July 20, 1972 interview for Rolling Stone, Jon Landau asked: "What is it that the mama saw? The whole world wants to know."

Simon replied "I have no idea what it is...

"Something sexual is what I imagine, but when I say 'something', I never bothered to figure out what it was."

Which makes this an extremely disturbing video — a middle-aged Paul Simon singing the song on Sesame Street.

And click here for a remembrance of "Me and Julio..." by Moe Zilla