A recurring theme in Hilburn’s book, from his interviews with Simon’s boosterish intimates, is that music might very well be the best friend that Simon has, offering companionship and shelter during his lowest points.
paul simon graceland shirt – Paul Simon To Retire From Touring ‘After All These Years’
New Yorker Paul Simon first burst onto the music scene as half of the popular folk duo Simon & Garfunkel. In 2011, I interviewed Paul Simon over the phone for about 20 minutes. He was, as advertised, a little prickly and really insightful. I don’t remember a lot about the conversation — I was in the midst of dealing with a terrible personal crisis when I had to stop to take Simon’s call, a good setup for a Paul Simon song about the extraordinary colliding with daily disappointment.
Another reason for me to give this a 5 is that I admire Paul’s music and creativity. Granted, I would find it hard to work with someone who can be overbearing, sensitive, prickly and nit picky as he often is but I think one of the main reasons I gave this 5 stars is that it shines in comparison with the last “rock legend” biography that I read on Jimmy Buffet which was pretty terrible. This one corrects the faults of that one and is an enjoyable, well organized and entertaining read.
A dance-remix version of Graceland’s” songs was released last year. Eventually, Simon read Hilburn’s acclaimed Johnny Cash: The Life. I think he saw the ‘seriousness’ of that book and that helped convince him,” he says.
And now, with Paul Simon: The Life,” (Simon and Schuster, 391 pages) decades of fans of perhaps America’s greatest living popular songwriter and one of its most important musicians, as well as those who simply appreciate the work of a master at the art and craft of music, are the beneficiaries of those more than 100-hours of taped conversations.
Renamed Simon & Garfunkel, after their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.” sold poorly, they disbanded and Simon headed to England to pursue a solo career. Let’s play some ska!” he implored. But the musicians didn’t play ska. Well, what do you play?” Simon asked.
I still give it two and not one stars because I kinda like the general atmosphere, but, first of all, this isn’t that unusual an atmosphere in the first place, and second, it pains me to think that Paul Simon had both the atmosphere and the interesting melodies. It is evident here that the farther Paul drifts away from the S&G legacy, the deeper is the gutter in which he had so successfully shoved his songwriting talent. A pity, that. Strange, too – just one year separates this album from its predecessor and it’s so shockingly weak already.
That’s about eight hours of live Paul Simon music in a five-day period. That might seem like he’s pulling a Kiss or Ozzy Osbourne by shamelessly continuing to tour directly after a farewell tour, but these were all charity gigs for various environmental organizations. He didn’t earn a dime from any of them, even the headlining set at Outside Lands; before he announced the Homeward Bound farewell tour of 2018, he said that he’d continue to play the occasional charity show.
Three Grammies were for album of the year—Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Still Crazy After All These Years,” and Graceland.” Simon and Garfunkel were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Simon was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1998 and received its Johnny Mercer Award the same year; he entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 as a solo artist and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award with Garfunkel in 2003.
Disinclined to honor artificial borders when it comes to music and culture, Simon mixed it up from the outset. He would explore and interpolate doo-wop vocals, gospel choirs, New Orleans brass bands, West Coast jazz musicians, reggae rhythms, Peruvian folk melodies and more on such eclectic early albums as Paul Simon (1972), There Goes Rhymin’ Simon (1973) and Still Crazy After All These Years (1975). Simon wrote enlightened, accessible yet offbeat pop tunes that were in sync with the Seventies and its self-absorbed ironies. His music unfailingly nodded to the exotic without departing the familiar. As a lyricist, he could be a droll, sometimes doleful observer of the human condition; witness his mid-Seventies anthem Still Crazy After All These Years” (which would become a popular societal catchphrase). Simon expertly sculpted his songs until they sounded so effortless that they belied his careful craftsmanship.
In fact, I would have enjoyed the author going into even more detail about Simon’s process. It is easy to assume great writers and musicians simply c This is an excellent exploration of Paul Simon’s career with a focus on his music—and in many cases dives deeply into the songwriting itself. If you are more interested in his personal relationships and conflicts, you will be disappointed, but if you are fascinated by creatives and the way they approach their work, this is an ideal book.
In 1990, Simon and Garfunkel were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2000, Simon was again inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Fame for his solo career. In 2003, the two reunited again when they received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. This reunion led to a U.S. tour, followed by a 2004 international encore, which culminated in a free concert at the Colosseum in Rome.
In early 1964, Simon and Garfunkel reunited under their own names; together they got an audition with Columbia Records and were signed to a contract. Their first record, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. was released on October 19, 1964. Although the album initially flopped, many radio stations began receiving requests to play the single The Sound of Silence.” The song eventually went to number one on the pop charts in the United States. In 1965, Simon went to England after Wednesday’s failure to record a solo album, The Paul Simon Song Book. However, Simon returned to the United States to reunite with Garfield, upon the success of The Sound of Silence.” Together they recorded several influential albums, including Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966) and Bridge over Troubled Water (1970). Simon and Garfunkel would also contribute exclusively to the soundtrack of the film The Graduate (1967).
At the time, Simon was already working on a new album with Brian Eno called Surprise , which was released in May 2006. Most of the album was inspired by the September 11 terrorist attacks , the Iraq invasion , and the war that followed. In personal terms, Simon was also inspired by the fact of having turned 60 in 2001, which he humorously referred to on “Old” from You’re the One.
The faster tunes on here, which the fans usually consider the best, actually seem annoying to me, because they distract from the general mood; if there ever was one album to call for total uniformity, it’s Pony, and really, a thing like ‘Late In The Evening’ doesn’t really gel with everything else. It’s kinda okay, a decent Latin rocker with abrasive percussion and a predictable Latin brass section, but there doesn’t seem to be anything outstanding about it. A kind of song everybody interested in Latin music could do, and the rhythms are so basic I would probably want to listen to something authentic instead. The “regular” pop-rocker ‘Ace In The Hole’ is slightly better, but it disrupts the atmosphere for me anyway.
The album debuted at No.1 on the UK charts, making Paul Simon the oldest male solo artist to achieve that feat; in America it was his highest charting album since Graceland. Check out the deluxe edition, which contains a duet with Dion Di Mucci on ‘New York Is My Home’.
The audience, three-to-one boomers to millennials, was joyful throughout, happily standing up and sitting down with the rhythm of churchgoers as Simon alternated between his ballads and up-tempo numbers like You Can Call Me Al” and Late in the Evening.” Before Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War,” whose title came from a photograph in a book he spotted at Joan Baez’s house, he said hello to Baez herself, sitting below the luxury suites, and asked why she didn’t have better seats. During Sound of Silence,” a handful of people waved their phones like lighters. Out of modesty, or possibly refinement, everyone else seemed reluctant to join in.
As the helicopter approached, a buzz built among those waiting. While they are thankful for celebrities who make large donations to help environmental causes, they are especially impressed at Simon’s level of participation and commitment.
A workmanlike job of reviewing Paul Simon’s career. Though given 100 hours of access to Paul Simon, as well as most of those in his life, there aren’t a lot of insights here. We get a pretty thorough review of his quarrels with Garfunkel and a close look at the composition of some of his best known songs. Enjoyable, but not revealing.
Yet Simon still redeems himself with the first side – ‘Duncan’ is a wonderful, tear-jerking ‘biographical’ song along the lines of ‘The Boxer’ (Wilson & Alroy did ironize on the subject of most of these ideas being recycled from half a dozen S&G hits, but at least there isn’t any straightforward self-ripping off), and I’m particularly fond of ‘Run That Body Down’, a kind of mournful, slightly self-mocking, lightweight, yet deeply philosophical tune – a kind of tune that I’d previously thought only the other Paul was capable of doing; analogies with such songs as ‘For No One’ and particularly ‘Junk’ come to mind immediately. But ‘Run That Body Down’ feels even more at home with me, because the question of ‘how long you think that you can run that body down?’ is really far more actual than most people usually tend to think about it.
Simon has been active in communities around Fairfield County. In 2018 he participated in Stamford’s March for Our Lives where he performed “The Sound of Silence” as a comment on Congress’ inaction in the face of ever-mounting student deaths.
Incidentally, all three of the backup singers on 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” — Valerie Simpson, Patti Austin, and Phoebe Snow — were prominent musicians in their own right. Valerie Simpson was the Simpson of Ashford & Simpson, who had already written Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ” and produced the 1970 Diana Ross version, which had been Ross’ first solo #1 hit. Simpson had also released a couple of solo albums on Motown; later on, Ashford & Simpson, as artists, would peak at #12 with 1984’s Solid” The singer-songwriter Phoebe Snow, who’d been touring with Simon all year, had already peaked at #5 with 1975’s Poetry Man” (It’s a 6.) And Patti Austin will eventually show up in this column, Simpson, Snow, and Austin don’t really get a whole lot of opportunity to show off on 50 Ways,” but that’s still a whole lot of talent in one room.
Partially because of his private nature and, secondly, because he doesn’t like to do things, like interviews, that cut into time he might be using to work on his music,” explains Robert Hilburn, retired chief pop music critic for three decades for the Los Angeles Times.
I write from instinct, from inexplicable sparkle. I don’t know why I’m writing what I’m writing. Usually, I sit and I let my hands wander on my guitar. And I sing anything. I play anything. And I wait till I come across a pleasing accident. Then I start to develop it. Once you take a piece of musical information, there are certain implications that it automatically contains — the implication of that phrase elongated, contracted, or inverted or in another time signature. So you start with an impulse and go to what your ear likes.