The neck of my Guitar
Singer-songwriter waxes about... Columbus Dispatch

(Not a very good, in my opinion) interview conducted by reporter with Columbus paper...


Singer-songwriter waxes about new album, New Orleans and a fellow named Art

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Andrew Hampp


His new album may be called Surprise, but there´s something refreshingly familiar about Paul Simon.
The singer-songwriter, 64, is still cordial after all these years.
In an interview last week, he chatted about New Orleans; his old musical partner, Art Garfunkel; and his national tour ´” kicking off Wednesday at Value City Arena.
The tour, with a seven-piece band, represents his first solo outing since he promoted his last album, You´re the One, in 2000; and his first time on the road since he joined Garfunkel for a worldwide circuit in 2004.
Fans should expect a few adjustments in his hits, said the figure who helped popularize world music with the landmark 1986 album Graceland.
´I changed a lot of things on the Simon & Garfunkel tour,´ he said. ´I´ve done that again here. The songs are somewhat different but not so radically different that it´s a different song ´” different so I can come and sing them again and feel I´m in an environment that I can sing like they´re fresh, instead of doing something that´s so familiar.´
Simon, whose latest was released last month, spoke of his musical collaborators past and present, the death of duos and his frustration with hypothetical questions:
Q: Your new album marks a bit of a return to form for you. Some critics have even called it a return to the sound of Graceland. Is that what you and producer Brian Eno had in mind?
A: Well, Brian Eno, his sound palette is very beautiful and it´s wide, but it comes out over electronics and keyboards. So it kind of attaches to my way of thinking about sound and space. It overlaps without getting in the way; that´s how I conceived it.
Q: You premiered some of the material last month at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. How was that experience?
A: Happy and sad.
Well, the festival was a big hit. It had as many people as they have when they have a big hit ´” hundreds of thousands. But large portions of the city are in ruins. People keep talking about it, but it´s not really imaginable unless you´re there.
It was an emotional experience going on there. . . . I got to play with Allen Toussaint and sang a duet with Irma Thomas on Bridge Over Troubled Water and played with Buckwheat Zydeco. It was a real interaction with Louisiana musicians. That made it very special.
Q: Writer Charles Webb recently announced plans for a sequel to The Graduate. Would you and Art Garfunkel be willing to do the score for the inevitable movie adaptation? Is that something you´ve thought about?
A: I don´t know. The first Graduate is fine. It doesn´t need to be improved upon with a further score.
I have no plans to do anything on a professional level with Artie. We did some shows together, got to renew our friendship. I saw him about a month ago, and we had dinner, but I think we covered it. Q: So the tour succeeded in bringing you two back together again? A: Oh, absolutely. That was an important piece of repair work that needed to be done.
Q: Which has satisfied you more ´” your early collaborations or your solo work since the ´70s?
A: I don´t really have a comparison. They seem so separate, but now they´ve sort of blended together to me because I wrote all the songs from both periods. The connection of how the songwriting and record-making grew ´” that sort of starts with Simon & Garfunkel and continues evolving.
As far as recording goes, it´s very different being part of a duo than being a solo artist. It´s a different discipline ´” how you have to think about how you can sing when you got somebody else singing with you.
It really struck me on the tour that there are no more duos. That sound of two voices ´” the way Don and Phil (Everly) did it or the way Lennon and McCartney or the way Artie and I did it
Q: You open Surprise by asking, ´How can you live in the Northeast?´ but never actually answer the question. Care to answer it now?
A: I think of rhetorical questions people ask.... They don´t really deserve a question to ask somebody why they like something. It´s either way simpler than the question deserves or far too complicated to be answered.
They´re the real questions. We´re actually looking for answers. . . . If you really want to know why people live in the Northeast, like ´How could you do that?´ nobody´s talking to that.
Q: So are these questions that people have asked you through the years?
A: No, no, just observations of what´s going on in culture.
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