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Lyrics and Sheet Music
Paul Simon

What is the meaning of the lyrics of Trailways Bus by Paul Simon?

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May 09, 2008 4:07PM

The song is from the musical, "The Capeman" by Paul Simon (obviously!). It tells the story about a 16 year old Puerto Rican gang member called Salvador Agron, who took part in the brutal murder of innocent teenagers, in the 1950's. He became the youngest person on Death Row but his sentence was commuted. During his time in prison, he became fully rehabilitated, taking and passing his High school exams. Being a model prisoner, he was allowed out to go to college. One day, however, he did not return to prison, instead taking a Trailways Bus to Arizona in an attempt to escape. The song tells the story of his journey on the bus; it describes some of his fellow passengers and the passage through Dallas - the site of Kennedy's assassination. During his incarceration, he was written to by a Native American woman who lived on a reservation, and they maintained contact, perhaps falling in love. The verse which includes the words, "...no money to come East" are hers. The end of the song are his feelings of being an outsider, as the border police enter the bus, and also describe his memories of the night he committed the murders - he is unable to forget these, in his quest for redemption.