Chapter 1: 1940 - 1949
|Last update: 2012-10-29
Paul Frederic Simon was born October 13, 1941 in Newark, New Jersey. He had a younger brother, Eddie, four years younger but physically equal brother.
He grew up in Queens, New York, residing at 137-62 70th Road in Forest Hills. He’s about five feet, one inch tall (1.55 meters in Europe) in his stocking feet, and is considered to be one of the finest American songwriters of the century, receiving Kennedy Center Honors in 2002. Paul is in fact left handed. He writes right handed and plays right handed guitar but does everything else left handed. He was the primary songwriter in the duo Simon and Garfunkel, which recorded only five studio albums together (not counting the ´The Graduate´, which consisted of previously released material, although including alternate versions) before breaking up in 1970, including Wednesday Morning 3 A.M (1964), Sounds Of Silence (1966), Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme (1966), Bookends (1968) and Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970).
Paul was the first child of Louis and Belle Simon. Paul’s father Louis was born in 1916 in Newark New Jersey,and was an accomplished, professional bass player who performed on radio and television (and was referred to in the first line of the song ´Baby Driver´). Paul later referred, that he was really an excellent musician and his teacher in music. He also earned a doctorate in linguistics from New York University and was a professor of education at the City College of New York. His mother was an elementary school teacher until she quit to raise Paul and his younger brother, Eddie.She later returned to teaching and was a first grade teacher at PS164 Queens until she retired in 1975. Paul´s father died in January 1995 at his home in Eaglewoods Cliffs NJ and his mother died on the 16 June 2007. in Paul’s parents were a huge influence in many ways. First, his mother had a religious influence on her boy. Paul grew up being fully aware of his Jewish heritage and his mother especially observed many traditional Jewish customs and tried, like many Jewish mothers, to bring her two sons up with these customs. Unlike his mother, Paul´s father was not one for visiting the Synagogue, nor observing Jewish tradition and this also had an effect on the two boys. Louis was leaving Belle to go alone to Synagogue wailing, ´Why am I the only one who goes to Synagogue?´
Paul’s passion for baseball and the New York Yankees was also thanks to his father. Paul has recounted many times the memory of he and Eddie playing pretend baseball in their bedroom, with sound effects and commentary by the boys themselves. Louis would often take Paul to Yankee Stadium to see Joe DiMaggio (whom Paul would immortalize in his song “Mrs. Robinson,´ although his all time favourite player was Mickey Mantle) and the other players. Perhaps the biggest influence from Paul’s father was musical. One of his best experiences with his father, according to Paul, was when he was sitting on his bed in his room singing to Alice In Wonderland, and his father walked by and heard him. He turned to Paul and said: ´You have a very nice voice´. From that day on Paul would see himself as someone who could sing. Paul would sometimes go with his father to various gigs. There he would listen to the various sounds of the different bands on the bill. So, throughout his childhood, Paul was surrounded by many forms of music. Louis didn´t encourage Paul in a musical career, though he was a successful musician; his many years in his profession showed how precarious it could be and Louis and Belle wanted their sons to be in secure employment. Paul said that his parents would say, ´You practice guitar for a straight 6 hours a day when you should be studying. What do you want to be, a musician!´ Ironically, it was exactly what Paul wanted and what an amazing musician he was to become.
During his early childhood, Paul was unaware of another talented child living a mere three blocks away from the Simon household. Arthur Ira Garfunkel was born on November 5, 1941 in Forest Hills, Queens, New York as the second child in a family of three sons. Though Artie´s parents had no connection to the professional music business, they possessed beautiful singing voices. With his parents´ encouragement, Art soon discovered he had a pitch-perfect voice. After that, Artie began to develop his singing voice; he used to sing on to tape and then play it back to find flaws in his voice and find ways to improve. He would also often sing aloud to the rhythm of his walk on his way to school, which got him some interesting looks from people passing by!
When Paul saw Art singing Nat “King” Cole´s “They Tried to Tell Us We´re Too Young” at a talent show in the fourth grade, he was inspired to try singing himself. Art has since said that Paul saw how popular ´singing Art´ was with the girls at their school that Paul was impressed.
Chapter 2: 1950 - 1959
|Last update: 2012-06-20
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel officially met in the early summer of 1953. Both boys were working in a 6th grade production of Alice In Wonderland. Paul was the White Rabbit and Art was the Cheshire Cat. As Paul says in the Old Friends tour in the 2004 he played ´a leading role´ in Alice in Wonderland and Art was merely ´a supporting role.´ This is much like how it would play out through Simon and Garfunkel´s time together Paul as the leading role and Art as the supporting role. The boys would often walk home together after rehearsals and they soon developed a friendship. Paul and Artie had many things in common. They both shared an interest in sports, particularly baseball.Thier biggest mutal passion however, was music. They liked singing together and started to record their voices together to see what it sounded like. The 11 year-olds would spend many weekends at the Garfunkel household recording their voices on Artie’s new tape recorder. Art would make Paul say his T´s over and over and Art would try to copy how he said it by sitting nose to nose so Art could see exactly where Paul´s tongue hit the roof of his mouth so he could emulate it and they would harmonize well.
During elementary school at PS 164 in Queens, Paul (Paulie) was the class vice-president from 2nd grade through 5th grade, according to his schoolmate Helene. According to the Laura Jackson bio, Paulie also was getting a playground reputation as a ´burgeoning toughie´. His teachers felt that his new assertive personality was due to his lack of physical growth and tried to involve Paulie in extra-curricular activities. This led to the sixth grade play and his friendship with Art Garfunkel.
After graduation from grade school, both Paul & Art were placed in the advanced scholastic program in junior high school. According to the Jackson bio, the two friends were required to walk through a rough part of Queens in order to get to Parsons Junior High School. Allegedly the two boys were harried and mugged daily for thier dinner money.
Paul only had two jobs in his life, as he doesn´t consider his musical career to be a job. When he was 15 years old, he had a job at a liitle children´s shoe shop in New York. It is not there any longer and paul later said in jest, ´It´s not lamented,´. His job was a stock clerk, and he had to go and find the shoes that the sales people asked for. He wasn´t very good at this and paul says ´my nick name was lightning which shows how good I was as a stock clerk!´. It was probably here where Paul decided that pursuing a music career was his best bet!
In 1954, Paul’s life would change forever. In July, a 19 year-old from Mississippi named Elvis Presley released a song called “That’s All Right.” And with one simple recording, the amazing form of music called “Rock ‘n Roll” was born. Elvis Presley became a symbol of the younger generation and a worldwide phenomenon. Like many other teenagers, Paul was captivated. He first heard Elvis on the radio in the family car, waiting in the carpark of a supermarket. He wanted to be just like Elvis. His father didn´t like the new rock and roll style, so Paul used to talk about Elvis with his grandmother. Paul said that his grandmother thought Elvis was called Alvin, and that she seemed to think he was Jewish.´Paul, who is this Alvin Presley, is he Jewish?´ Paul replied seriously, ´I don´t think so Grandma...´.So, in October of 1954, Paul began to learn how to play the guitar, after his parents bought him one for his birthday for Twenty-seven dollars. Paul wanted to become a Rock ‘n Roll star, much to his father’s displeasure. Artie also shared Paul’s passion for the new style of music. They were always glued to the radio and bought all the hit records of the day. They began to tape record more and more using more than one tape machine so as to really get the harmonies right, and in 1955, they wrote their first song together and copyrighted it at the Library of Congress. It was called “The Girl For Me”. It was not until spring 1955 that Paul, with Artie, made his first public appearance when they performed at an assembly at Parsons Junior High School, singing the Crew Cut´s hit ´Sh-Boom.´
1954 was also the year where Paul bought his first record,´Pledging My Love´ by Johnny Ace, who Paul would later write a tribute to with ´The Late, Great Johnny Ace.´ The song was first performed in 1981 in the Central Park reunion concert. During his performance of ´The Late Great Johnny Ace´ a man ran up on stage yelling ´I just want to talk to you´ spooking Paul.
The nasal harmony of the Everly Brothers a major influence in the Paul and Art´s style. When Paul Heard ´Bye Bye Love´ for the first time, he called Artie and they went to buy it. As one hit followed another into the charts, Paul and Art worked to create similar sound. They had serious sessions in Paul´s basement, working on harmonizing using Art´s two tape recorders.
In 1956, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were juniors at Forest Hills High School in New York, New York, when they began playing together as a group called Tom and Jerry, with Simon as Jerry Landis and Garfunkel as Tom Graph, so called because he always liked to track ´graph´ hits on the pop charts. Paul took Landis as his stage surname because at the time he was dating a girl named Sue Landis. As seniors in 1957, Paul and Art had started writing their own songs in the Everly Brothers´ rock and roll style; they managed to record one of their first, ´Hey, Schoolgirl,´ for Sid Prosen of Big Records. Released on 45 and 78 rpm records, the single, backed with “Dancin´ Wild” sold 100,000 copies, hitting #49 on the Billboard charts.
They later performed their hit on American Bandstand, right after Jerry Lee Lewis´ “Great Balls of Fire.“ (Lewis had refused to lip-synch and insisted on performing live, which was unprecedented on American Bandstand.)
Subsequent efforts in 1958 did not reach near their initial success. Paul also tried for a solo career under the pseudonym of True Taylor but his record ´True or False´ didn´t make the charts. Paul has mentioned in more recent interviews that Art considered his solo efforts a betrayal. After high school, the duo split, with Simon enrolling at Queens College, New York, and Garfunkel matriculating into Columbia University. Art studied architecture in college, a fact which Paul would later allude to in his song “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright.” While attending Queens College Paul made a great friend, Carole King. Carole, who had just released her debut single, “Baby Sittin,” helped Paul get involved in the music industry again. In addition to earning his degree in English literature, Paul spent many hours in a Broadway recording studio making demo records for various recording companies. It was at this time that Paul began to learn a lot about recording and playing and singing different styles of music. This knowledge would help him throughout his life.
Reading between the lines of the Jackson bio, one can see that Paul´s parents placed a great value on obtaining the college degree. Paul had advised Carole King to stay with her college education and not drop out of school to concentrate on her song writing career. Paul ruefully says shortly after Carole left school, her career took off, and Paul was still doing the demos!
Chapter 3: 1960 - 1969
|Last update: 2012-06-20
While in college, Paul released many singles under the pseudonym, Jerry Landis. Unfortunately, the singles were all commercially unsuccessful. In 1961, Paul teamed up with a group, Queens College students, called Tico & The Triumphs. Paul wrote for the group, but the only single to reach the charts was “Motorcycle”/ “I Don’t Believe them” (A dismal #99). They did a lot of session work for him
Paul graduated from college in February of 1963. The 21 year-old had matured a lot since college. He had become aware of the social and political climate he was living in. The Civil Rights Movement was in full swing and John F. Kennedy was president. The world was changing. Paul became conscious of the burgeoning Greenwich village folk scene at this time, too. Finally, a trip through Europe impacted Paul greatly. All of these factors led to a change in Paul’s writing style. He began to write more adult, socially conscious songs like “He Was My Brother” and especially - the “Sound of Silence.” Paul described how he wrote his most haunting song, ´The Sound of Silence´ during an NPR interview in 2004. He said that he wrote it in his bathroom, with the lights off and the water running. The ´Sound of Silence´ uses imagery of light and darkness to show how ignorance and apathy destroy people´s ability to communicate on even a simple level. The light symbolizes truth and enlightenment. Both music and lyrics are perfectly fitting.
In 1963, Paul had a chance meeting in New York City with his “old friend” Art. They realized that they still had many things in common. Art still had a passion for music and loved the new folk scene. Although Art was still hurt by Paul recording solo at the age of 16, he was glad to be working with him again. They later found prominence as part of the same New York City folk music scene as Bob Dylan, with close harmony singing inspired by the Everly Brothers, married to Simon´s acoustic guitar playing. The influence of Dylan and the whole poetry of beat generation was important especially for the developing of his mature lyrics. Simon, who had dropped out of Brooklyn Law School, showed Art a few songs in the folk style he had written; “Sparrow,” “Bleecker Street”, and “He Was My Brother,” which was later dedicated to Andrew Goodman, one of three civil rights workers murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi, on 21 June 1964 by the Ku Klux Klan (Andrew Goodman had been a classmate of Simon´s at Queens College). These three efforts, published under the pseudonym P. Kane, were among five original songs by Simon included on their first album for Columbia Records. Before Paul and Art made their new album (Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.), they sang in folk clubs and on the side streets for money.
When Art first heard the song (He was my brother), he was immediately excited by it and he later wrote: ´...It was clearly the product of considerable talent.´
Before Wednesday Morning 3 A.M. was released, there was some debate over what Paul and Art should call themselves. The men had had their fill of pseudonyms, but were unsure about using their real names. There was still a lot of anti-Semitism in America in the early 1960’s. Many Jewish artists lost radio airtime due to the close mindedness of some people in the country. Even the successful Bob Dylan had changed his name from Zimmerman. After much discussion, Goddard Lieberson, president of Columbia Records decided that the group would be called “Simon and Garfunkel.” It was a bold, honest decision that proved to be right. Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. was released on October 19, 1964. It initially flopped upon its release.
The album featured several of Simon´s original compositions, one of which, “The Sound of Silence,” would rise to number one on the US charts in a reworked fashion and earn the duo their first gold record.
One of the songs in this album is called ´Bleecker Street´. It describes a street in New York´s East side, where people try to communicate with each other, but always fail.Also the line ´a poet reads his crooked rhyme, holy holy is his sacrament´ refers to a poet selling out, out of necessity(possibly refering to himself)the line directly following the aformentioned line is most likely a reference to the bible (thirty pices of silver). As Art noted, ´it touches poignantly on human conditions of our time´
On the album there is also ´Benedictus´, a formal interpretation of a Latin hymn taken from a 16th Century church mass by Orlando de Lasso. The song was discovered by Art while he was studying music at Columbia University and Paul worked on the arrangement.
´Sparrow´. the second Simon original in Wednesday Morning, 3AM, gives the opportunity to hear how their voices could blend together in a wonderful Harmony. Here Simon uses the children´s rhyme, along with biblical imagery, to castigate society for its harsh treatment of the weaker souls. The album also symbolizes how Simon´s work was fitting into the broader folk Music of the early 1960´s. Despite being Jewish, he uses many Christian songs and religious allusions. Like the folk singers that came before him, songs like ´Go Tell it on the Mountain´ were important to reaching a religious audience. Such songs were recorded by the Weavers and others involved in the folk revival.
One of the cover versions on the album, The Sun Is Burning, had been written by Scottish folk-singer Ian Campbell, and was presumably picked up by Paul during an earlier visit to England. At the time Campbell was running the Jug of Punch folk club in Birmingham, England, and on one occasion tried to stop Paul playing, as he had turned up late for his booking at the club. Folk singer Harvey Andrews was present that night and remembered being blown away by Paul´s artistry. ´They guy played a guitar like no one was playing a guitar in this country at the time.´ Campbell doubtless had good reason to thank Paul for the steady flow of royalties over the years, although his place in pop history would come through his being father of Ali and Robin Campbell, stalwarts of the band UB40.
Shortly after finishing recording, the duo effectively split again, and Simon moved to England in 1964 while Artie continued to study at the Columbia School of Architecture. He traveled around various parts of England, performing at local folk clubs. It was at one popular folk club where he met his soon-to-be girlfriend, Kathy (Kathleen Mary Chitty). Kathy was a pretty, somewhat shy, local girl. Paul was instantly attracted to her and he would eventually immortalize her in two songs; “Kathy’s Song” and “America.” Kathy was somewhat of a muse for Paul. Sadly, being so shy, she did not want to be part of Paul´s growing fame and success, and the two drfted apart. Kathy Chitty remains fairly elusive and despite efforts to speak to her she has stayed hidden. After the plaque (commemorating homeward bound) at widnes station went missing, Kathy was invited to unveil a new one, but she declined. It is thought that she lives in the welsh mountains, has three adult children, and works part time at a university. In 1986, she wrote to Paul, who was apparently delighted to hear from her and he confirmed her presence at the hyde park, old friends reunion tour(July 2004). Paul, disappointed by the muted reception of ´Wednesday Morning 3 am´ moved to London. He loved the place and the people. It was here he learned many traditional English folk standards such as, “Scarborough Fair.”
Artie eventually visited Paul in London and the two would sometimes perform at gigs together. During their 2003/2004 reunion tour, Simon & Garfunkel spoke fondly of their time in Britain, recalling the origin of Kathy´s Song many times. They were fresh out of college and touring Europe. They were poor and played on the sidewalk for money, Garfunkel said during a concert in Atlanta back in 2003. ´Our friend Kathy´d collect the money in a sailor´s hat, it was called busking and we were buskers.´ Paul, however, denied this in an interview with the English newspaper the ´Independent´. ´Nah,´ he laughed. ´Not true. That´s just Artie. We never busked. Well, I did in France actually, but never in England. I played the folk clubs. I let Artie say what he likes. It was his turn to speak.´
While in England in 1965, Paul Simon met Bruce Woodley a member of a popular Australian Folk/Pop band of that time. Simon and Woodley went on to co-write several songs together. The songs included Red Rubber Ball, I wish you could be here and Cloudy. The Seekers also did a cover of 59th Street Bridge(Feeling Groovy).
In the spring of 1965 Paul made a short trip home during which he and Artie recorded two electric folk songs - We´ve Got A Groovey Thing Going and Somewhere They Can´t Find Me. Later Paul would joke that Tom Wilson (the producer of Wednesday Morning 3AM) had talked them into this fashionable move and that their reaction had been ´what the hell - we´re not selling any folk records´. The songs, however, were not good and it remains unclear to this day exactly what Tom Wilson intended to do with them. Paul Simon, meanwhile, returned to England, where he recorded his solo album, The Paul Simon Song Book in May 1965. The album came about after Paul had provided a series of songs for the ´Five To Ten´ religious spot on BBC Radio. This was due to the tireless work of Judith Pieppe, a social worker working in the East End of London, who was one of the first people to realise just how special Paul´s songwriting was. She also recognised the strong religious overtones of early songs, such as Sparrow and Bleecker Street and strongly lobbied BBC producers to feature Paul´s work. Many of the songs that later appeared on The Paul Simon Songbook were featured in the ´Five to Ten´ slot, although one, Bad News Feeling, didn´t, and has never been officially released. It was Judith´s persistence, following the success of Pauls´s ´Five to Ten´ appearances, that led to the recording of ´Songbook´, that and the many requests for recordings by listeners. ´We got snowed under´, Judith recalled. By the time ´Songbook´ was released (see below) he was living at Judith Piepe´s flat together with Kathy, and some other performers (she is the girl sitting across from Paul on the ´Songbook´ album cover). Al Stewart and Sandy Denny lived in the flat at various times, Al being present when Paul first performed I Am A Rock and remembering Paul literally rolling around the floor laughing at the earnestness of the song.
Rumour has it that it was recorded in about an hour at Levy’s Studio, London, and featured only Simon and his guitar. It is a refreshing souvenir of the early folk work of Paul Simon. However, the album was supposedly wiped around 1979 at Simon’s request. So, for years it could only be found as an LP recording at record stores, fairs or on eBay. “Songbook” was re-released with two bonus tracks in 2004 - perhaps because some fans persuaded Paul’s brother and manager Eddie.
While Simon was in England that summer of 1965, radio stations around Cocoa Beach and Gainesville, Florida, began to receive requests for a song off of Wednesday Morning, 3 A. M. called ´The Sound of Silence´.
According to Paul, he wrote the song while sitting in the bathroom of his parent´s house with only one candle burning and the water running for inspiration. The song also began to receive radio airplay in Boston, and seizing the chance, the duo´s U.S. producer Tom Wilson, who had heard The Byrds´ early folk records, overdubbed the original ´The Sound of Silence´ track with an electric twelve-string guitar, bass and drums. The musicians were session players who, with Wilson as producer, were helping Bob Dylan record his Highway 61 Revisited album. Columbia proceeded to release the electric Sound of Silence as a single, backed with ´We´ve Got a Groovey Thing Goin´´. The dubbing turned folk into folk-rock, the debut of a new genre for the Top 40, much to Simon´s surprise.
In September 1965 Simon learned it first entered the pop charts while about to go on stage in a Danish folk club, and it hit number 1 on the pop charts by December.
Simon immediately returned to the United States and the duo re-formed for the second time to record more tracks in a similar style, though, perhaps justifiably so, neither approved of what Wilson had done with ´The Sound of Silence.´
The result was a sequence of folk-rock records, which have endured as well as any in the genre. Simon´s lyrics were often insightful and picturesque, but leavened by a consistent dry humour.
On 17 January 1966 the duo released the album Sounds of Silence, which, helped by the title track´s success, hit #21, while Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. was re-released and reached #30.
Amongst the tracks on The Paul Simon Songbook re-recorded with electric backing for ´Sounds of Silence´ were ´I Am A Rock´ (called ´paul´s most neurotic song´ by Garfunkel, which as a single reached US #3 in the summer of 1966), ´Leaves That Are Green´, ´April Come She Will´, and ´Kathy´s Song´.
Further hit singles came, including ´Scarborough Fair/Canticle´ and ´Homeward Bound´ (later US #5), about life on the road while Simon was touring in England in 1965. ´Scarborough Fair/Canticle´ consisted of two songs. ´Scarborough Fair´ was based on a traditional English ballad, about a North Yorkshire coastal town. The counter melody, ´Canticle´, was a rewrite of Paul Simon´s ´The side of a hill´ that featured on ´The Paul Simon Songbook´. ´Homeward Bound´ was written whilst Paul was on Widnes station, in Cheshire, waiting for a train to take him back to London. (Regarding ´Scarborough Fair/Canticle´, a rumor says that when Simon and Garfunkel had recorded it they lit candles all over the studio, lay down on the floor and proceeded to, well, smoke marijuana as the song played back.)
More tracks from The Paul Simon Songbook were included with recent compositions on their 10 October 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, which refined the folk-rock sound hastily released on Sounds of Silence.
In 1967, Simon and Garfunkel contributed heavily to the soundtrack to Mike Nichols´ film The Graduate, which was released on 21 January 1968 and instantly rose to #1 as an album.
As their albums became progressively more adventurous, The Graduate Original Soundtrack was immediately followed in April 1968 at the top of the charts by Bookends, which dealt with increasingly complex themes of old age and loss. Side One starts with the nursery rhyme-like Bookends Theme and a song about a child (Save The Life Of My Child) and progresses through early adulthood (America) via middle age (Overs), to a track comprising the voices of old people, and ends with S & G themselves looking back over life from old age (Old Friends). Paul Simon wasn´t prolific enough to maintain the ageing theme across a whole album, however, and Side Two therefore catches up on the group´s hits. It features the top 25 hit singles ´A Hazy Shade Of Winter´, ´Fakin´ It´, ´At The Zoo´, and ´Mrs. Robinson´, the classic from the Graduate soundtrack, which became #1 as a single.
Mrs. Robinson as a song almost didn´t come into being. The song had been created a while before ´The Graduate´, but was still in an embryonic state. Paul Simon labelled it Mrs Roosevelt, after the wife of former president Franklin Delano. Director Mike Nichols was looking for some more original material for the Graduate soundtrack. Almost as an afterthought, Garfunkel mentioned that Paul had been working on ´this song´. Nichols heard Mrs. Roosevelt and suggested the title change. Mrs. Robinson was born. Simon tried to finish the song in time for its release, but had trouble coming up with words for the first verse after the intro. In the end, he came up with the characteristic humming. ´Punky´s Dilemma´ was also written for ´The Graduate´ soundtrack but Mike Nichols chose not to include it. In fact there were other disagreements. A notable example: Nichols wanted a song to play over the meeting between Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross at the San Francisco zoo. Simon wrote the song, and it was a brilliant, funny affecting song ... but it was about the wrong zoo. Paul Simon is a New Yorker, so he wrote about Central Park. And another song hit the cutting room floor.
At the March 1969 Grammy awards, ´Mrs. Robinson´ was named Record of the Year, while Simon was also honored with the Grammy for Best Original Score for a Motion Picture. Although it probably would have been a strong contender, ´Mrs. Robinson´ was never nominated for an Academy Award becasue Paul forgot to fill out the application form.
Mrs. Robinson was the first rock song in the history to include the name of ´Jesus´. A curiosity, Frank Sinatra made a version of this song, but he decided to change ´Jesus´ by ´Jess´, because he thought the public would find it offensive.
By 1969 the duo´s success began to take its toll. Garfunkel had begun to pursue a career in acting, in Nichols´ follow-up to The Graduate, starring as Nately in the movie version of Catch-22. This increasingly frustrated Simon when Garfunkel´s leave interfered with the recording of the duo´s next album, and it didn´t help that Simon´s part in the film had been cut before filming actually began.
The duo´s deteriorating personal relationship continued into their late 1969 tour, which featured performances at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio on 11 November and Carbondale, Illinois on 8 November, recordings of which are supposedly widely bootlegged. Video footage of the tour was shown on their controversial 30 November television special Songs Of America, which TV sponsor AT&T refused to endorse because of its distinct anti-Vietnam War message.
It has long been assumed that the deteriotation was accelerated by the song ´Cuba Si, Nixon No´ which Simon & Garfunkel performed on their 1969 tour.
Chapter 4: 1970 - 1979
|Last update: 2012-06-20
Simon & Garfunkel´s long-delayed final album, ´Bridge Over Troubled Water,´ was at last released on 26 January 1970. Many of the songs on the album allude to the imminent breakup of Simon & Garfunkel. In ´The Only Living Boy In New York´ Artie is called Tom (a reference to the duo´s early incarnation as Tom and Jerry). The song mentions his departure to Mexico for filming of
´Catch-22´ and expresses the hope that his ´part will go fine.´ But despite this hope, Paul feels abandoned and the song deals with his unhappiness at the way that he and Artie are drifting apart. In ´So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright´ Artie - an architecture major - is blurred with the character of the famous architect and is clearly the person with whom the singer recalls spending many nights harmonizing till dawn. Artie has said how hurt he was when he discovered that the song was actually saying ´so long´ to him. ´Why Don´t You Write Me´ is another expression of Paul´s own hurt at Artie´s long absence in Mexico. Maybe even ´Bye Bye Love´ is intended as a sly reference to the breakup of the duo.
The album´s title track featuring Garfunkel´s soaring vocals was a massive hit and one of the best selling records of the decade, staying #1 on the charts for six full weeks and on the charts for far more than a year. Originally composing the song on guitar, Simon got the idea for Bridge Over Troubled Water´s lyrics while listening to Swan Silverstone´s recording of ´Oh Mary Don´t You Weep.´ The ´sail on silver girl´ was written in the studio several weeks after Simon had completed the first two verses. Years later, he would lament the abrupt change that this section created in the song´s lyrical style. While many people criticized the ´Silver Girl´ lyric as a reference to drug needles, Paul said that he wrote it because his wife Peggy had prematurely gray hair.
The Bridge Over Troubled Water album included three other top twenty hits, including ´El Condor Pasa (If I Could)´ (US #18) (Germany #1), ´Cecilia´ (US #4), and ´The Boxer´ -- which, finished in 1968, hit #7 on the charts the following year -- as well as a live recording of the Everly Brothers´ ´Bye Bye Love´ from Ames, Iowa, on their 1969 tour.
The song ´El Condor Pasa (If I Could)´ was much more succesful in Germany than in any other country. In an NPR interview Paul said that he´d been sailing on a river with some friends once and had heard a girl singing and playing guitar. Due to their unability to speak the other one´s language, they could only communicate by music. Paul played ´El Condor Pasa (If I Could)´ and the girl sang in Spanish. She didn´t recognize Paul -- and played ´The Sound of Silence.´ What a coincidence!
´Bridge Over Troubled Water´ first debuted on television with a rather political message, portraying images of contemporary martyrs over the music. This caused much controversy when the program´s original sponsor, AT&T, backed out of their sponsorship when they heard about these ´controversial´ images.
At the subsequent March 1971 Grammy awards, the first Grammys ceremony to be broadcast live, the album and single were each named Album and Record of The Year, winning Grammys as well for Best Engineered Record, Song of The Year, Best Contemporary Song, and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists. In fact, they were the first group ever to win the ´Big Three´ categories (album, record, and song of the year).
After the group split later that year, Simon taught songwriting classes at New York University during the summer of 1971. Among the students he taught were the Roche Sisters, Maggie and Terre, and singer-songwriter Melissa Manchester who remembers that as a teacher, Simon was nervous. He listened to the students´ songs and offered suggestions and criticism, often dissecting the lyrics and drawing comparisons with his own work, while offering autobiographical insights into how his own work progressed and from where he drew his inspiration.
In 1971 Paul Simon contributed lyrics for Leonard Bernstein´s Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers. At the time an ambitious and controversial work. It was commissioned to create a stage production to inaugurate the opera house at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on September 8, 1971. Although the liturgical passages are sung in Latin, Mass also includes additional texts in English written by Bernstein, Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz and Paul Simon (who wrote the first quatrain of the trope ´Half of the People´). The street chorus proclaims direct assault on belief, with the quatrain by Paul Simon: “Half the people are stoned and the other half are waiting for the next election / Half the people are drowning and the other half are swimming in the wrong direction.”
He traveled to San Fransisco to record demos, and prepared a stylistically diverse solo album simply titled ´Paul Simon.´ The work incorporated elements of Latin, reggae and jazz, which produced two hit singles, ´Mother And Child Reunion´ which was recorded in Kingston, Jamaica and ´Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard.´ Guest musicians on the record included Stephane Grappelli, Ron Carter, and Airto Moreira. For Simon, a very successful solo music career followed while Garfunkel split his time between acting and occasional musical releases, neither to much acclaim. Their 1972 ´Greatest Hits´ album peaked at US #5.
Paul Simon married Peggy Harper, ex-wife of Simon & Garfunkel´s former manager, Mort Lewis, in 1970. They had a son, Harper James Simon, born in September 1972. They divorced in 1975. Paul later wrote the songs ´I Do It For Your Love´ and ´Train In The Distance´ that dealt with his disappointment over their failed marriage.
In 1973 ´There Goes Rhymin Simon´ was released. The album shot to second place in the US charts and the fourth in the UK charts, and featured three hit singles, ´Kodachrome´ (US#1), ´Loves Me Like A Rock´ (US#3), and ´Take Me To The Mardi Gras´ (UK#8). On the subsequent tour, Paul played with a gospel choir, the Jesse Dixon Singers, and a Peruvian folk music band called Urubamba, who originally helped S&G on the song ´El Condor Pasa (If I Could)´ and later, ´Duncan´ on Simon´s solo debut. He first met them in 1965 while touring in Paris, and they shared their bootlegs. Out of this cooperation arose the live album, ´Live Rhymin´´ (US#23) which was released in March 1974. Here, Paul - not much of talker during concerts - showed his sense of humor: when asked by somebody in the audience ´to say a few words,´ he just said ´Let´s hope that we ... continue to live.´ Paul even allowed the Jesse Dixon Singers to take the lead for a rendition of ´Jesus Is the Answer.´
´There Goes Rhymin´ Simon´ took over six months to write, and four months to record in many different studios. His reason for travelling was simple: ´Always for musicians. Wherever the musicians are, that´s where I go.´ Simon was very delighted with what he found and full of praise for the skill of the musician he worked with. The concept of Rhymin´ was very different from that of his solo debut in that he wanted more emphasis on voices, and the reason he didn´t include them on his first solo album was that he´d felt people would wonder why he´d split up with Art, if he what he still wanted was vocal harmony.
The changes in ´Rhymin´´ were also thematic. ´Paul Simon´ was a troubled and introverted album, while ´Rhymin´´ burst upon the public as a joyous celebration of family life.
´Still Crazy After All These Years´ arrived in 1975 and earned him a Grammy for Album of the Year, and a number one US single, ´50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.´ In his Grammy acceptance speech, Simon specially thanked Stevie Wonder for not bringing out an album that year! The new album also included the first colaboration of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel since 1970 with the song ´My Little Town,´ which also appeared on Art Garfunkel´s solo album, Breakaway, the same year. At the time of creating ´Still Crazy,´ Paul developed big calcium deposit problems with his left hand, so he was not able to play the guitar as he was used to. In an interview he explained that he was playing very much squash at that time (he plays that left-handed) and so he hurt his hand with too much pressure. He was able to recover from that problem to some degree but his left hand bothered him for a long time every now and then.
Listeners can only guess at what Paul was feeling emotionally when writing these songs. But the audience was clearly moved enough to put ´50 Ways to Leave Your Lover´ on the top of the charts.
At Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, on March 1st, 1975, Paul Simon appeared with John Lennon and Andy Williams.
John Lennon: ´Hello, I´m John, I used to play with my partner Paul.´
Paul Simon: ´I´m Paul, I used to play with my partner Art.´
Andy: ´I am Andy, I used to play witm my partner Claudine.´
Later, also Art Garfunkel came to the stage and as John Lennon asked: ´Are you ever getting back together again?´ Paul Simon replied with question: ´Are you guys getting back together again?´
In 1976 Paul performed with George Harrison on the American comedy show ´Saturday Night Live.´ It would become one of the most remembered musical performances in the show´s history. Although they rehearsed several songs such as ´Rock Island Line´ and ´Bye Bye Love,´ the only two which made it to the final cut were ´Homeward Bound´ and ´Here Comes The Sun.´
Aside from his performance with George Harrison, Paul was a frequent guest on the ´Saturday Night Live´, both as host and musical act. In fact, he was billed as the host for the second episode of the series, and appeared with Art Garfunkel for a rendition of ´The Boxer´ that included the additional stanza: ´Now the years are rolling by me,/ They are rocking evenly,/ And I am older than I once was, and younger than I´ll be,/ That´s not unusual./ No, it isn´t strange,/ After changes upon changes, we are more or less the same, / After changes, we are more or less the same.´ The duo also performed ´Scarborough Fair/Canticle´ and ´My Little Town´. Paul´s second appearance on the show, in 1976, is perhaps best remembered for his performance of ´Still Crazy After All These Years´ while wearing a turkey costume.
In 1977, Paul appeared in the Woody Allen film Annie Hall. Ironically, Paul´s on-screen girlfriend was played by Garfunkel´s then real-life girlfriend Laurie Bird.
In 1977 as well, Paul appeared on Artie´s ´Watermark´ album, joining Art and James Taylor for ´(What A) Wonderful World.´ ´Watermark´ was released twice in two different versions. The first version includes the Jimmy Webb song ´Fingerpaint´ instead of ´(What A) Wonderful World´ which replaced it. The first version of the album was withdrawn within days of the initial release and was only released in some countries. That version has never been released on CD.
Chapter 5: 1980 - 1989
|Last update: 2012-06-13
In 1980, Paul decided to give his contribution into Cinema. ´One-Trick Pony,´ whose soundtrack is one of Paul´s underrated and best albums, is the story of an anti-hero, which is characteristic of Paul´s universe. A songwriter who prefers staying in the dark rather than compromising with commercial music.
To be able to play the ´hero´ in a feature film Paul decided to change something about his looks: he shaved his mustache and ´did something with his hair´ (in other words, he bought a wig). Furthermore, he started to work out a little and ran through Central Park, NYC to lose weight.
The album did OK artistically and in sales numbers, although many of it´s songs were sadly not represented in live performances much beyond the 1980 ´One Trick Pony´ tour, save for a surprise resurrection of the song ´Jonah´ in Paul´s 1992 appearance on MTV Unplugged. Regardless of the album´s quality, the audience was not so fond of the movie. In some reviews Paul´s acting was torn to pieces - however critics acknowledged the realistic description of the music business. For his first leading role he did a fine job. His original screenplay was full of light moments, wit and emotion, much of which got lost in the translation to the screen. Everything from his musical answering machine message to the end of his first exchange with the rock club waitress: he wasnt Warner Brothers to pay the tab, she refuses saying ´It´s the rules, I don´t make the rules.´ In the script, Simon´s character Jonah Levin, responds ´Somebody´s doing it, though. Somebody´s going around, making up rules.´ The song that gets trashed by Lou Reed´s character is ´Long, Long Day´ in the script. Not much of a song, and perhaps it would have been well-served by some slick professionalism. But changing the song to ´Late in The Evening´ was sort of pointless: the song was going to be a hit, no matter what, and adding a horn section isn´t a capital crime. His response (trashing the tape) seemed excessive, petulant. In the script the film ends with Jonah telling his child a lovely improvised story, and with the sense of a possible reconciliation between Jonah and his wife. One can only speculate why these changes were made.
Still, the failed movie episode caused Simon to question himself and his work. He developed writer´s block and began to doubt his role in the music world and in life in general. As he told ´Playboy´ in a 1981 interview, it was only through the help of a befriended psychiatrist that he overcame these feelings. He grew to realize that he shouldn´t judge himself the way he did up until then. The psychiatrist helped him see that his songs mattered to people, whether or not he personally agreed. This realization helped set Simon back on track. The doctor even got him playing the guitar again, and after their first session, Paul Simon played a tune that would become the Hearts & Bones song ´Allergies.´
In the summer of 1981, New York City mayor Edward Koch called Paul Simon to offer a free concert in Central Park. Paul accepted the idea of a free concert and for the occasion, called Art Garfunkel - who happend to be in Switzerland - in order that they re-form the group ´Simon & Garfunkel´ during the second half of the show. But they soon realised that it wouldn´t be such a good idea. Art initially refused and Paul suddenly realized that he didn´t want to be an opening act for Simon & Garfunkel.
They got back together and started rehearsing, but immediately ran into some problems. Art Garfunkel insisted that they´d perform like they did back in the sixties: two voices and one guitar. But Paul´s recent solo work had relied heavily on other instruments as well. ´Still Crazy After All These Years´ only really comes alive with that sax solo near the end and ´Late In The Evening´ just has to have horns. Furthermore, Paul simply wasn´t able to play the guitar for two straight hours after he developed calcium deposits in his fingers. So, they got a band, like they had during their last year as a group, back in 1969. (Paul also made a guest appearance on Garfunkel´s new solo album of 1981, ´Scissors Cut´, adding vocals to the Jimmy Webb song ´In Cars´ which fades out with Art singing a snippet of Dylan´s ´Girl From The North Country´, itself referencing the traditional ´Scarborough Fair´.)
The Concert in the Park was held on September 19th, 1981 and would turn out to be their most famous concert. New York mayor Ed Koch introduced the famous duo by simply saying ´Ladies and gentleman: Simon and Garfunkel!´. They played old hits like ´Mrs Robinson´, ´Homeward Bound´ and ´The Sound of Silence´, but Simon´s solo hits too, like the wonderful ´American Tune´ or the rhythmic ´Me and Julio´. It was also the first public performance of ´The Late Great Johnny Ace´, an emotional tribute to John Lennon (who was killed by Mark David Chapman the year before) and as Paul sang the verse ´When a stranger came up and asked me if I´d heard John Lennon had died´ a fan charged the stage, distracting Paul Simon from the microphone and scaring him; but he managed to finish the song all the same.
This free concert was attended by a few more than 500,000 persons, not counting the people watching it on TV. Then, riding on this success, Simon and Garfunkel decided to do a world tour that lasted about 2 years: United States, Canada (Vancouver), France (Paris, 40,000 persons), etc. But both of them did not feel very comfortable and later mentioned that there where many arguments and musical differences that they found hard to overcome. One instance of discomfort came on a BBC TV interview.
Asked for a reason for reuniting and touring, Simon suggested that Art had an incurable disease. The tension was palpable. Even so, at Wembley Stadium in June 1982, the duo gave a polished and professional performance, even including Art´s 1979 UK number 1 ´Bright Eyes´ in the set. It was a magical performance, with many celebrities, including Paul´s friend George Harrison, in attendance.
After Simon & Garfunkel toured between 1982 and 1984 they wanted to release a new album as Simon & Garfunkel, called ´Think Too Much´. But this time, Paul Simon didn´t like the idea that Artie should sing on songs so personal. The duo broke up again, and S&G´s ´Think Too Much´ album became Paul Simon´s solo album, ´Hearts & Bones.´ Garfunkel had reportedly been working up his vocal parts for the album whilst embarking on one of his epic walks. He returned to find Paul had wiped his earlier work. An unofficial version of the album exists with Garfunkel clearly heard on ´Song About The Moon´ as well as ´Train In The Distance´. Simon wanted some more control of what Garfunkel did with the songs and Garfunkel did not want Simon to tell him what to do with the harmonies. The bottom line was this: Garfunkel wanted a full collaboration, but he wasn´t up to it. He dawdled over his harmonies and caused the recording to run later and later; finally the tour was set to happen before the record was finished. Paul could no longer be ´Roy Halleed and Art Garfunkeled; he was a solo artist now, and the backtracking was doomed.
The album didn´t get the commercial succes it deserved. Including small classics like the title track, ´Train in a Distance´ and the ambitious ´Late Great Johnny Ace´ (a tribute to Johnny Ace and John Lennon and a song about violence in America, again with a reference to Kathy - ´I was living in England with the girl from the song before), it´s somewhat of a surprise that it remains as one of Paul Simon´s least known albums to the broad audience.
Paul Simon married actress Carrie Fisher (´Star Wars´) on 16th August 1983 during the S&G World Tour, after many years of an on again, off again relationship that was somewhat chaotic. They were introduced by Shelley Duvall, whom Paul had dated for two years prior, in 1978 at the L.A. Film Critics Awards. It was maybe the most passionate relationship of his life. They had no children together although Carrie tragically miscarried one and separated after only 11 months. They divorced in the summer of 1985 due partly because of the misunderstandings between them and partly because of her problems with drugs. It was about their relationship Paul wrote the very personal song ´Hearts and Bones´, which hints to the two in the opening line and then towards the end of the song ´One and one half wandering jews returned to their natural coasts´ (Carrie, being half jewish and from the west coast. Paul being fully jewish and from the east coast)
As he wrote in the liner notes for ´The Paul Simon Anthology,´ Paul considers this song to be one of his best. It was one of the first songs he composed in his head, without the aid of an instrument. Whether or not this is related to the fact that Carrie Fisher auctioned off the Ovation Balladeer Guitar he used during the Central Park concert, history doesn´t say. Carrie later wrote a book inspired by their brief marriage and commented their break up: “I figured out what he needed was an intellectual geisha.”
In 1984 Paul undertook a solo acoustic tour - twelve gigs across the USA. They were great shows - much underappreciated but somehow he felt the need to reinvent himself after the commercial failure of ´Hearts and Bones.´
In 1985 he took part in the video and in the recording of the song “We are the World,” written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson on the occasion of the USA for Africa concert, organized in order to raise money for Africa. He only sang solo a verse (´Oh, and it´s time to lend a hand to life´) and with Kenny Rogers (´The greatest gift of all´), and he sang in the chorus.
In 1986, Simon was back on the charts with Graceland. This album was totally different from any other rock and roll album made. For ´Graceland,´ Simon recorded with South African artists and groups among them: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, guitarist Ray Phiri and his band Stimela, and bassist Bakithi Kumalo. The origin of the record deserves a quick mention here. A friend had sent Paul a bootleg tape of Mquanga music. It was called ´Gumboots´. He started playing it in his car and eventually singing his own melodies and writing his own lyrics over the basic track by such groups as the Boyoyo Boys. The music excited him but Warner Brothers was underwhelmed. It seemed like the least commercial idea of all time. But this was liberating. Paul apparently felt, after two flop records and a dud film, that he was finished: no one cared what he did and so he had nothing to lose. Later on he would be accused of exploiting the musicians he worked with and ´stealing´ their music. But as he pointed out, no one else thought that adding his own lyrics to a Sutu wedding march was going to be a sure-fire chart-topper. Everyone who worked with him was well paid -- some for the first time in their lives. Those who helped compose songs, or whose basic tracks he used, got royalties as well, and they were substantial for a hit album. Joseph Shabalala said it best: ´Everyone loves Paul Simon.´ If you see them on stage together, you know it´s true.
´Graceland´ would win Best Album in 1986 (making him only the third person up to that point to win three best album Grammys) and the tune would win Best Record in 1987. Paul´s ´Graceland´ tour began in 1987 and was performed to diverse audiences of thousands throughout the world and gained a reputation as an epic event when it went to Africa and played to a racially mixed audience of over 45,000 people. This particular concert was recorded live on location and was released as ‘Graceland: The African Concert’ and is a must see for any Paul Simon fan. It also gives a cultural awareness to the audience through actual clips of the apartheid momevent, and of course, through special African guests like Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Chapter 6: 1990 - 1999
|Last update: 2012-06-20
In 1990 Paul played the role of Simple Simon in The Disney Channel´s ´Mother Goose Rock´n Rhyme´, which was a musical movie with many other famous artists, including Art Garfunkel.
´The Rhythm of the Saints´ was released in 1990. This long expected follow-up from Graceland was succesful, but not that successful as Graceland. The album has 10 songs on it. Rhythm of the Saints has a large amount of percussion and electric guitar in. Percussion in ´The Obvious Child´, and electric guitar in ´The Coast´ etc.. The powerful percussion on ´The Obvious Child´ was delivered by Grupo Cultural Oludum from Salavador, Bahia in Brazil. The drums were recorded live at Pelorinho Square. The clip that went with this song was also recorded at this square. Oludum joined Paul at his Concert in the Park in NY in august 1991.
Paul played in front of an audience of ~500,000 to 750,000 people. The Central Park concert ended a successful world wide tour. On this tour paul added extra chords to The Boxer and Hearts & Bones, which he peformed beautifully. The VHS and LD of the Concert is also available. While on tour in the UK Simon recontacted Kathy Chitty - the Kathy of Kathy´s Song and his girlfriend from the 60´s. She and her family attended Simon´s show in Sheffield. Simon would confirm her attendance at the Old Friends reunion tour stop at Hyde Park in July 2004
On May 30th 1992 Paul married his long time girlfriend, singer-songwriter Edie Brickell (then 26 years old), in a private civil wedding ceremony at their home in Montauk, Long Island, New York. Edie first met Paul performing ´What I Am´ on NBC´s ´Saturday Night Live´ when she noticed Simon was standing in front of the cameraman. According to an interview with the Associated Press on Jan. 7, 2004 she said ´He made me mess the song up when I looked at him. We can show the kids the tape and say, ´Look, that´s when we first laid eyes on each other.´
Edie and Paul believe in the importance of family. ´During the school year we have piano lessons and school, and no matter what, our family is the most important thing.´ Often times the family does sing together, however there is no official release of the songs. Rumor has it that someday there might be an album of children songs sung by the family. Brickell told the Associated Press that for now ´family singalongs are confined to the house.´ They have 3 children together: Adrian Edward (December 1992), Lulu (April 1995), and Gabriel Elijah (1998).
June 3rd, 1992 marked the world wide premiere of ´MTV Unplugged´ with Paul Simon. The one hour acoustic performance marks the first time an episode of the series is aired the same day in 57 of the 70 countries worldwide where MTV can be seen with MTV Asia, MTV Brazil and MTV Europe. Copies of Paul´s performance are hard to find, but are in high demand.
On 21 July 1993, Richard Tee, an extremely talented and soulful pianist passed away as a result of cancer. He was 50 years of age. Richard Tee had played with Paul for a number of years and they appeared to have been very close. He played at the concert in Central Park for Simon and Garfunkel 1981 and also appeared in the ´One Trick Pony´ film as Clarence Franklyn.
1993 saw the release of the Paul Simon Box Set - 1964/1993. The three cds included the first official release on CD of a song from ´The Paul Simon Songbook´, as well as other rarities, such as ´Hey Schoolgirl´ by Tom & Jerry, an early guitar demo of ´Bridge Over Troubled Water,´ a mock send-up of Paul and Artie arguing in the studio, and an unreleased song from Rhythm of the Saints.
This Box included too a very rare track ´The Breakup´, a dialogue between Paul and Artie joking about the end of Simon & Garfunkel. Ironically, Artie talks and Paul stops him once and once again, because his voice is too high or he is speaking too slowly etc. It´s a private joke about what people said about S&G´s way of working in the studio. This track was included too in Art Garfunkel´s ´Up Til Now.´ The track is from 1972, and possibly from the sessions for Angel Clare, Artie´s debut solo album to which Paul contributed some acoustic guitar. The track was first heard in the UK during the broadcast of The Simon and Garfunkel story radio series in 1974. Both Paul and Art were interviewed for the series, that included rare demos of ´Bridge Over Troubled Water,´ ´The Only Living Boy In New York,´ ´Duncan,´ ´Paranoia Blues´ and ´Was A Sunny Day,´ some of which have surfaced over the years. ´The Breakup´ came right at the end of the series.
In March 1993 Paul reunited with Art Garfunkel in Los Angeles for a Concert to benefit the ´Children´s Health Fund,´ An organization Paul co-founded in the late ´80s. The CHF is a national organization, devoted to providing health care to the most underserved children. Relations between the two men were not good, by all accounts, during these concerts. After they went their separate ways at the end of the run they did not speak for several years and Garfunkel, in particular, came over in interviews as being especially bitter about something. Intriguingly, Paul provides one possible partial explanation on his 2006 album Surprise, referring to something that happened in ´August 1993,´ when ´a best friend became an enemy,´ going on, in the song at least, to admit ´I was wrong,´ although in an interview with Word magazine he appeared to refer to the same incident, claiming that time had actually proved him to be right. What this cause of disharmony was is not clear, although there have been reported differences between the two men over royalties.
In 1996, Paul was one of the guests on Carl Perkin´s last album, the wonderful ´Go Cat Go´, contributing vocals on two highlights of that record: ´Don´t stop the Music´ and the Simon/Perkins composition ´Rockabilly Music´, one of his most straight ahead upbeat rock songs in years.
In 1997 Paul contributed to a limited edition charity CD called ´Carnival!´ with an un-released song written at the same time as ´Rhythm Of The Saints´ called ´Ten Years.´ Originally intended for use on the 10th aniversary Oprah Winfrey show, this beautiful song was included in the Rainforest Foundation CD alongside other artists such as James Taylor & Madonna.
Simon worked for seven years on the musical ´The Capeman,´ which unfortunately was not a big success closed after only 10 weeks and 68 performances. Although largely panned by critics, ´The Capeman´ was a highly ambitious project that appeared to strike a chord with the community at large. The musical told the story of Salvador Agron, a gang member of ´The Vampires´ from Hells Kitchen, who was convicted of the double murder of 2 rival gang members. He was dubbed ´The Capeman´ by an unforgiving public because of the cape he wore. The show previewed on Broadway in late 1997 and featured Latin stars Ruben Blades and Marc Anthony.
In November 1997 the album ´Songs from the Capeman´ was released. These are songs from the musical but performed by Paul Simon. On this album he sings 17 songs (on the original album there are 39 Paul Simon songs sang by others), by himself. The album ´Songs From the Capeman´ is still available in stores, the album with the 39 songs on it has never come in the stores but is available on iTunes.
When Paul released ´Songs from the Capeman´ in 1997 it was his first album in six years. Paul´s son Harper is credited for contributing guitar and harmonica on the album, which reached 42 in the US charts. Perfomances of the Capeman show began in December at the Marquis Theater on Broadway in Manhattan. Opening night was meant to be January 8th 1998. However when it had it´s first preview performance problems arose from protesters who were relatives of Salvador Agron´s two young victims. Due to this disturbance opening night was put back. The Capeman opened three weeks late on Thursday, 29 January 1998. The show had poor reveiws. Paul´s personal hopes for the Capeman had been to revel in success for a long time. The Capeman cost Paul and others $11 million. The show was withdrawn on the 28th March 1998 just one day short of two months into it´s run. Despite the lack of success of the Broadway production, rumours (although unlikely) still remain that the show may face a revival, and the music on the album is considered amongst fans and critics to be some of Simon´s finest work. So much material was written for The Capeman, in fact, that songs (including an album favourite and late 90´s concert staple, ´Trailway Bus´) had to be cut.
In 1999 he toured with Bob Dylan in the USA. Given the stature of both artists, neither was the opening act for the other each night. Rather, they alternated, with Dylan playing first some nights and Simon playing first on other nights. Unique highlights resulted when, before one set ended and the other began, the two icons would duet on songs like Simon´s ´The Sound of Silence´, or covers such as ´That´ll Be the Day.´ Regular duets on the tour included ´The Boxer´ - a song Dylan had recorded (singing lead and harmony a la Simon and Garfunkel) and released on his panned 1970 Self Portrait album - ´I Walk the Line´ and Bob´s own ´Knockin´ on Heaven´s Door´.
Chapter 7: 2000 - 2009
|Last update: 2012-06-20
´You´re the One´ was released in October 2000. This album again was nominated for the Grammy award Best Record of the Year.
Simon went on tour for a series of concerts in Europe and USA after the release of this album. The concert in Paris was filmed and released later on DVD (You´re The One - live from Paris). At the Rotterdam concert in Holland Paul began with thanking the audience for the way they received him and his South African co-performers in 1987, for that was the first concert in the - then controversial - Graceland Tour. The longest track that Paul Simon ever recorded is ´Darling Lorraine´ which is on this album. The song which is over 6 minutes long. Contraversially, the shortest song that Paul ever recorded was with Simon and Garfunkel and the 32 second ´Bookends Theme´.
On September 2000 Paul had a chance to perform live, he was a guest at ´The Concert´ an all-star fundraiser for the democratic party, it was held at Radio City music hall in New York. That night Paul said ´I hope things work out the way we want them to.´ He was reffering to the outcome of the upcoming election.
Simon´s ´You´re The One´ tour started on October 16th 2000 in Sweden, he had two sold-out nights at Stockholm´s Globe Annex. Paul and a 2 man band rehearsed in Manhattan. All their rehearsing paid off for 3 upcoming gigs at the emd of the month in London´s Hammersmith Apollo.
Paul also contributed to an all-star tribute DVD for Brian Wilson, the legendary Beach Boys frontman. He played an amazing cover of ´Surfer Girl.´ In 2001 he toured the US together with Wilson and in 2002 he went back to Europe, visiting a lot more countries than in 2000.
He performed with Paul McCartney in the Benefit Gala ´Adopt A Minefield´ held in Los Angeles in the autumn of 2001.
Paul also gave one of his most touching performances in the wake of 9/11, with his haunting rendition of ´Bridge Over Troubled Water´ presented during the ´America: A Tribute to Heroes´ telethon.
February 2001 Paul had the pleasure of seeing ´You´re the One´ nominated for the best album grammy.
On March 19, 2001 Marc Anthony presented Paul Simon with his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Paul started his lengthy speech by thanking the early rock and roll bands that influenced him when he was young. He mentioned The Crows (saying that their song ´Oh Gee´ was the first record that he ever really liked after hearing it on the radio), The Penguins, The Moonglows, Johnny Ace and Elvis Presley adding that ´Mystery Train´ remains his ´all time favorite´ and that he has ´spent a career trying to get that sound´.
In the middle of his speech, Paul took time to thank Art Garfunkel for sharing the ´amazing days´ of their early success, saying that the sound of their voices together was how he imagined the songs that he wrote. He went on to say that he regretted the ending of their friendship and said, ´I hope that one day before we die, we will make peace with each other.´ With this, the crowd began to cheer. Paul responded, jokingly, ´No rush.´
Nearing the end of his speech, Paul thanked Phil Ramone, who introduced him to Richard Tee and Steve Gadd, sighting that they are like brothers to him. He also expressed gratitude to Steve Shehan, Jamey Haddad, Mark Stewart and Vincent Nguini for helping make his album You´re The One, one of the ´most rewarding creative experiences´ of his career.
Paul ended his speech with thanking his father, 6 years gone by this time, for being his ´greatest teacher´ and he thanked God for the gifts that he was given and for letting him live the dream that he dreamed when he was 12 years old.
On 12.07.2002, Paul played a beautiful concert in the lengendary ´Waldbühne´ in Berlin.
Just before the European Tour began, Paul had completed 3 fragments of new music, which was the first to occur to him since mid 2000, and by early 2003, he had 3 songs finished, and 3 in the early stages. Of course, the following year and a half were taken up touring with Artie, so significant work did not re-commence on the new material until late 2004.
Paul Simon received a ´Kennedy Center Honor Award´ on December 7, 2002 in Washington.
Paul Simon´s song ´Father and Daughter´ from the motion picture ´The Wild Thornberrys´ was nominated for a 2003 Golden Globe Award.
Paul performed ´Father and Daughter´ during the 75th Annual Academy Awards on March 23, 2003 in Los Angeles. He received his first Oscar nomination for ´Father and Daughter´ in the category Best Original Song. (Believe it or not ´Mrs. Robinson´ was never nominated because Paul didn´t fill out the proper paperwork.)
Paul was interviewed on a radio show and asked what he thought of the song ´Richard Cory.´ He had said he didn´t like the song very much. He also said he disliked ´I am A Rock.´ In the same interview, Paul said, jokingly, that letting Artie sing ´Bridge Over Troubled Water´ was the biggest mistake of his career.
S&G received a Lifetime Achievement award at the Grammys in spring 2003. It was an occasion to sing together again; they performed ´The Sound of Silence´. With this event, Paul became closer to Artie, and they decided (for reasons still mysterious...money? enjoy?) to organize the future ´Old Friends Tour 2003.´
Paul Simon joined a host of musicians in saluting Willie Nelson´s 70th birthday. Paul and Willie performed ´Homeward Bound´ on April 9, 2003 at the Beacon Theatre in New York.
Paul was in a TV-show together with collegian John Mayer. In this show, the two performed some songs from John Mayer and of course some songs of Paul Simon. Highlight in this show: ´Train in the distance´ from the ´You´re the One´ CD.
So, S&G on tour once again in 2003,and then when they saw how many poeple had attended the first leg of the tour,they decided to another,and traveled in Europe in 2004. In Rome they gave a free concert and played in front of a record-breaking 600,000 people. S&G´s European tour was just a part of the 2004 ´Old Friends´ tour in the United States. The Everly Brothers also performed at all of the concerts with them. The Everly Brothers performed ´Wake Up Little Susie´, ´All I Have To Do Is Dream´, ´Let it Be Me´, and then performed ´Bye, Bye Love´ together with Paul and Artie.
As both men have grown older, they seem to have recognized the need to reconcile their differences and respect each other´s opinions. The two tours in the 21st century testify the leaps and bounds they have made into working together again and enjoying thier friendship like they once did years before. A DVD and CD of the ´Old Friends:Live On Stage´ tour was released at the end of November 2004. The CD included the first ´new´ S&G song since 1975´s ´My Little Town.´ In actuality, ´Citizen of the Planet´ was written by Paul many years ago; Garfunkel´s harmonies were laid over the existing recording. The recording was going to be on ´Hearts and Bones.´ While this may seem like a cheesy move to some people, many fans were delighted to have one more S&G song to listen to. By all accounts, the 2004 ´Old Friends´ tour has been a phenominal success. The most important moment in ´Old Friends Tour´ concerts was ´Bridge Over Troubled Water.´ This is the song that was Garfunkel´s success and it made Paul Simon feel envious when people were applauding to Garfunkel, because ´he´ was the author. In 2004, the old friends sang the entire third verse of ´Bridge´ together. The old important problem is now forgotten. Another important role Paul (and Edie´s) took on later in 2004 was that they held a fund raising dinner for Democrat candidate Kerry at their home in Montauk. This is completely in line with the anti-war song ´Citizen of the Planet´ he wrote years earlier.
In addition to reconciling their differences, Paul and Artie have also regained their amiability towards eachother. At a concert on the 2004 Old Friends tour, they were cheerful, had pronounced senses of humor (including Paul saying ´so it´s been a lot of years, huh? we should throw an anniversary party. Maybe we could book Simon & Garfunkel for the entertainment...would cost a fortune though).
In 2004, the Paul Simon Studio Recordings 1972-2000 box set was also released. This box set comprises of Paul´s 9 studio CDs released from his solo career after S&G. The tracks are all remastered and the box set also includes 30 bonus tracks (live recordings, outtakes, previously unreleased songs, demos)
Also in 2004 The Paul Simon Songbook, the previously rare album which Paul recorded in London before his S&G success was released again on CD with 2 bonus tracks.
On May 17,2005 Paul received the top award at the annual BMI awards. He was named the BMI Icon. The award was presented by fellow song writer legend Brian Wilson. He has left a unique and indeliible influence on generation of music makers. He sang ´Slip Slidn´ Away.´ at the awards.
After the wake of Hurricane Katrina which devastated many Louisiana cities (primarily New Orleans), Paul appeared on a Telethon that was aired on all major news channels and performed ´Take Me To The Mardi Gras.´ Paul also reunited with Garfunkel on a Hurricane Katrina benifit DVD titled ´From the Big Apple to the Big Easy.´ The duo sang ´Mrs. Robinson,´ ´Homeward Bound,´ and ´Bridge Over Troubled Water.´
After the S&G tour finished, Paul began working on his solo album with gifted producer Brian Eno who is credited with ´sonic landscape.´ The album, called ´Surprise,´ was released on May 9, 2006 in the USA and in June 2006 in Europe. In conjunction with this album release, Paul appeared as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live (which is produced by his longtime friend and neighbor Lorne Michaels). He also promoted songs from the album (concentrating mostly on ´Outrageous´ and ´How Can You Live in the Northeast?´) on ´The Ellen DeGeneres Show,´ ´Good Morning America,´ and ´David Letterman.´ He then spent the better part of July 2006 on an American tour which included concerts in New York, New Hampshire, Ohio, Connecticut, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, California, and Nevada.
In 2005, Paul Simon proved he is a human man, providing help with his 20 years old association, The Children Health Fund, creating the ´operation assist´ with mobile medical centers, after Katrina Hurricane tore through Alabama, Mississipi and Louisiana.
Just before the UK release of Suprise, Paul came over to London with his band of now familiar faces (including Steve Gadd on drums) to do some promo work. This consisted mainly of performing for the BBC. He appeared alongside Dave Gilmour, Elvis Costello & Allan Toussaint on the much-respected, ´Later...with Jools Holland´. Paul opened the show with the other musicians performing in the ´Me and Julio´ riff and then went on to give performances of ´Outrageous´, ´How Can You Live In The Northeast´ and ´Graceland´.
Paul recorded a concert for BBC Radio Two at UCL´s (University College London) Bloomsbury Theatre which was broadcast on June 4th. Paul´s introduction was by Paul Gambaccini (veteran broadcaster for the Beeb) after which Paul remarked, ´That intro was longer than our entire set!´ before launching into a re-worked ´Diamonds´. The concert was well-received and featured 4 songs from ´Surprise:´ ´Outrageous,´ ´Why Do You Live In The Northeast,´ ´Father and Daughter´ and closing with ´Wartime Prayers. The other songs performed from his back-catalogue had been reworked also - although not as much as ´Diamonds´. A particular favourite seemed to be the Zydeco flavour of ´Me And Julio´.
Paul seemed to really enjoy himself on the 2006 Surprise Tour. He talked more than ever with the audience. At the July 1, 2005 Milwaukee concert, Paul told a story about his daughter Lulu being Father and Daughter. He said that he went to check on Lulu to see why she was being quiet and found her covered in finger paint, even her feet. He said to her ´Why did you do this? You made such a big mess. But you don´t care do you?´ She replied ´Yes I do Dad.´ He said ´Really?´ Lulu then said ´No, I really don´t care.´ Also, there was a lot of give and take with the band. Most of the regulars were there. Steve Gadd (who wrote the drum part to
´50 Ways), Mark Stewart, Vincent Nguini (wrote guitar lick for ´The Coast´), Bakithi Kumalo(who wrote the bass part and solo in You Can Call Me Al) and Tony Cedras.
On July 4, 2006 an outdoor concert was performed at the 27th eddition of the International Jazz Festival In Montreal, in which a selection of artists paid tribute to the music of Paul Simon. Artists included Evis Costello, Jamie Cullum, Holly Cole, Allen Toussaint and many more. While not being in attendance, he was scheduled to perform the next night at the same arena as part of his Surprise Tour. At this occasion, he was the first in the history of the Festival to receive the Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award. He also made a stop in New Orleans for the Jazz Fest where he was joined by Irma Thomas and Allen Toussaint on ´Brige Over Troubled Water.´ and was also part of many huracane benefits, one of witch he reunited with Art Garfunkel to make up the classic duo once again.
In November 2006, Paul took part in a documentary of his musical life with the participation of Lorne Michaels .
Another leg of the Suprise tour in Europe, though not officially announced, has been widely speculated. A recent news article tells that he will give 2 concerts in Europe in 2007, probably kicking off another tour leg.
On June 16, 2007 Paul lost his beloved mother, Belle. He said, ´While both parents gave him their support it was his mother who was the most behind him.´ His father always thought that someday he would want another career but his mother supported his music all the way through.
On March 25, 2008, the latest Simon & Garfunkel CD went on sale. Entitled Simon & Garfunkel Live 1969, it is a series of 19 songs recorded live on their 1969 road trip. It contains several new songs for the public, one is Bridge Over Troubled Water,which received an enthusiastic ovation.
During a short tour trough Europe in the summer of 2008 Paul also began recording a few new songs. He played his latest song named ´Love in hard times´ at some special venues. In fall Paul released a book including all song lyrics, it´s simply named ´Lyrics 1964-2008´ and even included 2 new songs which not have been released yet.
On June 2, 2009, Paul Simon was a guest on ´Late Night with Jimmy Fallon´. He had a brief interview exclusively with Fallon and then was joined by comedian/musician Steve Martin. The two played together a bit and then a previously recorded video was aired. The video included Steve Martin and Paul Simon wearing wigs and acting like they were young again. In the skit, Simon and Martin discuss their intentions of being partners, but ironically discover that they have opposite styles. The skit was an instant success and has been played all over the internet.
Chapter 8: 2010 - 2019
|Last update: 2012-07-06
On November 23, 2010 Pauls new single ´Getting ready for Christmas day´ has been released. The song is only available as a digital download, no CD release was planed. This might be a tribute to the digital age we live in, although many of Paul Simons fans still prefer to buy a real medium. Most if not all critics highly praised the song and its inconvenient style, the song continues they way Paul Simon went with his lates album Surprise and includes many unnatural sounds. But it had no commercial success, also under fans it got not praised by everyone. A reason also might be that Paul promoted the song for one time only on the US-TV show Colbert Report, a very patriotic show - seen from a foreigner eyes - where heroic US-flags build the background of the studio. The live version is slightly different to the album version. ´Getting Ready For Christmas Day´ produced two music videos featured on the official Paul Simon website, one including stop motion animation and the other including a series of moving animated art. Paul Simon´s latest 10 track album is slated for release on April 12, 2011 and will include the single ´Getting Ready For Christmas Day´ along with a previously released song ´Questions For The Angels.´ Said to be a return to his early songwriting style, Paul has said in interviews that much of ´So Beautiful Or So What´ was written while sitting down with just his acoustic guitar. The second single, ´The Afterlife,´ was released on February 7, 2011 via Paul Simon´s official website and Facebook account. Having a strong melody and rhythmic groove, the single was received well by both fans and critics alike, with Rolling Stone Magazine giving it a 4 star review. As a publicity strategy for the new album, the Paul Simon Facebook page announced a third new single to be released once the page reached 110,000 ´fans.´ On February 11, 2011, the JFK Library streamed a live video feed of the sit down conversation ´Lyrics As Literature´ between writers Paul Simon and Paul Muldoon, with Bill Flanagan serving as moderator. Discussing much of the writers´ work and the history of poetry and music, the event featured a performance by Paul Simon of his new songs ´Love And Hard Times´ and ´Questions For The Angels´ as well as his much overlooked 1972 tune, ´Peace Like A River.´ After two very successful tours to promote ´So Beautiful Or So What´ in 2011, it was announced that Paul would go back on the road again in 2012, except this time it would be to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the 1986 album ´Graceland´. Paul said in an interview: ´That´s in the discussion stages. I would be happy to revisit that and do a ´Graceland´ reunion. There´s a documentary on ´Graceland´ that´s coming out in January that notices the 25th anniversary of the record, so it´s time for that show to come around again one more time. Almost everyone is still alive, so we could still reconstitute the band and do it again. I think they´re trying to do that and work out everyone´s schedule, but it´s still in the process of being coordinated. I think people will be interested to see it.´The tour has been put together and is to begin in July, 2012.