Happy Birthday to Paul Simon, who celebrates his 71st birthday on Saturday (October 13th)!!! Simon, with partner Art Garfunkel, was a major force during the '60s in bridging the gaps between folk, the British Invasion, and eventually the singer-songwriter movement. Simon & Garfunkel became friends towards the end of elementary school, and by their mid-teens had recorded their debut single "Hey Schoolgirl" under the name Tom & Jerry. After Simon & Garfunkel's mid-'60s heyday and their split in 1970, Simon released the scaled-down acoustic-based Paul Simon album in 1972. Although it was a commercial success, it paled in comparison to the duo's sales.
Simon's solo works differed greatly from his work with Garfunkel, embracing many different types of music: New Orleans jazz and pop-gospel on the hit single "Loves Me Like A Rock," African music on the album Graceland, South American on The Rhythm of the Saints, and salsa music for Broadway with 1997's The Capeman. He's tried his hand acting as well, appearing in Woody Allen's Annie Hall and in the semi-autobiographical film One Trick Pony.
Simon's latest studio album, So Beautiful Or So What, was co-produced by Phil Ramone and debuted on the Billboard 200 at Number Four. Simon explained that the issue of mortality crept into the songs on his new album, almost by surprise. During a recent interview on PBS he was asked if he felt that he was hitting 70 while writing So Beautiful Or So What: "It's more like 70's about to hit me. I suppose there's a connection, but it wasn't intentional. I was surprised myself, after I'd written the first six songs that five of them seemed to have God or some reference to Christmas -- y'know, 'Getting Ready For Christmas Day.' Yeah, I wondered what was going on."
Throughout the decades, Simon has never taken for granted being able to move through his life and work with relative autonomy: "I can do whatever I want artistically in my work. My work is accepted to lesser or greater degrees. Some things, sometimes are very popular. Sometimes its less popular -- but essentially, I mean, people are willing to listen, or watch, or read what it is that I make up."
Simon & Garfunkel have reunited various times over the years, most notably at New York's Central Park in 1981, after which they hit the road for an extended two-year tour. An ill-fated attempt at a studio reunion put their relationship on the skids, until their next series of shows in 1993 and then their eventual 2003/2004 Old Friends reunion tour.
In June 2010 Simon & Garfunkel announced that they would be indefinitely be postponing their joint summer tour due to Art Garfunkel's vocal cord paralysis, which to date have not been resolved, forcing him to once again cancel a series of solo dates.
Art Garfunkel admits that Simon & Garfunkel's combined talents are bigger than the both of them: "It delights us to see, when we try and combine, there's that third thing that's beyond the two of us, and there it is, bouncing against the walls, reverberating in the mic, this buzzy thing that is neither Paul nor Artie. We suddenly disappear as the people we are, and we become this Simon & Garfunkel thing."
In 2007 his son Harper Simon and current wife Edie Brickell teamed up as a duo called the Heavy Circles and released their debut album.
Although Harper Simon sounds nothing like his dad, he admits that they're alike in many ways -- including how they tend to write to a pre-recorded rhythm track: "Well there's a lot of similarities 'cause I've probably learned a lot, somewhat, watching him write growing up. He writes in a very specific way now. I mean, it changed, I think, for him. We both start with a track. I mean, he'll start with a rhythm track -- I mean, he'll just start with drums. Anyway, he builds a track up and then he writes the song over the track. That's how he writes now most of the time. As opposed to just sitting down on a guitar and writing it all out in one shot on guitar -- he doesn't do that."
Out now is Paul Simon's new concert collection, Live In New York City -- Simon's first new live album in over 20 years. The 20-song set recorded on June 6th, 2011 features most of Simon's leg closing stand at Manhattan's Webster Hall in support of his latest studio set, the critically acclaimed, So Beautiful Or So What. Live In New York City is being sold in three formats: a double CD/single DVD special package, Blu-Ray, and a standard DVD.
The tracklisting for Paul Simon's Live In New York City is: "The Obvious Child," "Dazzling Blue," "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover," "So Beautiful Or So What," "Mother And Child Reunion," "That Was Your Mother," "Hearts And Bones," "Crazy Love, Vol. II," "Slip Slidin' Away," "Rewrite," "The Boy In The Bubble," "The Only Living Boy In New York," "The Afterlife," "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes," "Gumboots," "The Sound Of Silence," 'Kodachrome," 'Gone At Last," "Late In The Evening," and "Still Crazy After All These Years."
Recently released are several deluxe 25th anniversary editions of Simon's 1986 Graceland album, with most extensive being the Collector's Edition Box Set. The two CD/two DVD set includes the remastered original album, the Under African Skies documentary film, extended interviews, the original 1987 African Concert from Zimbabwe, three original music videos, and the iconic Saturday Night Live performance of "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes."