Happy Birthday to the legendary Paul Simon, who celebrates his 76th birthday today (October 13th)!!! Simon, with partner Art Garfunkel, was a major force during the 1960’s, with Simon & Garfunkel bridging the gaps between folk, the British Invasion, and eventually the singer-songwriter movement. Paul Simon, whether recording as part of Simon & Garfunkel or on his own, is responsible for witting some of the most important and beloved music of all time — including such classics as “The Sound Of Silence,” “Homeward Bound,” “I Am A Rock,” “Kathy’s Song,” “America,” “59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),” “Old Friends,” “Bookends Theme,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “The Boxer,” “Cecilia,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Mother And Child Reunion,” “American Tune,” “Loves Me Like A Rock,” “Kodachrome,” “Something So Right,” “Late In The Evening,” “Train In The Distance,” “Hearts And Bones,” “Slip Sliding Away,” “Still Crazy After All These Years,” “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,” “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes,” “The Boy In The Bubble,” “Graceland,” “The Obvious Child,” “Rewrite,” and many, many more.
2017 saw a new career-spanning Simon retrospective run at L.A.’s Skirball Cultural Center. Paul Simon: Words & Music, which was on loan from Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, displays “more than 150 items — scratch-pad notes, awards, the first jacket he wore on American Bandstand, and his first acoustic guitar — a 13th birthday gift from his father, Louis, a professional bass player.” Also included are countless photographs, original lyric sheets, and an interactive music lab.
Recently released on CD and DVD is Paul Simon – The Concert In Hyde Park. The set, taped at the British festival gig on July 16th, 2012, was performed in part in celebration of the then-25th anniversary of Simon’s era-defining Graceland album, and featured many of the set’s original musicians performing 10 of the Grammy-winning album’s 11 songs. Among the guest stars contributing to the historic concert were reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Thandiswa Mazwai. The Concert In Hyde Park will be available in a physical double-CD/DVD or Blu-ray package, along with the usual digital audio / video and streaming formats.
Simon’s 2016 album, Stranger To Stranger, not only marked his best chart debut, entering the Billboard 200 albums chart at Number Three, but made for his highest charting album in 30 years. The last time Simon charted that high was in 1986 for the Grammy Award winning Graceland collection. Stranger To Stranger — which topped the UK album charts — sold 68,000 copies in its first week of release stateside and hit Number One on both Billboard’s Top Rock Albums and Americana/Folk Albums charts. In 2014 and ’15, Simon paired up with Sting for a joint tour that took the pair through dates in North America, Europe, and Down Under.
Paul Simon will participate in the writing of his officially sanctioned biography by noted writer Robert Hilburn. The book, which has no official title or release date, is being published by Simon & Schuster and will serve as Hilburn’s followup to his 2013 biography Johnny Cash: A Life and his own career memoir, Corn Flakes With John Lennon And Other Tales From A Rock ‘n’ Roll Life, which chronicled the famed Los Angeles Times critic’s life on the music beat.
Recently released is the Simon biography that spotlights the seamier side of Simon’s musical life. Homeward Bound: The Life Of Paul Simon is written by noted rock journalist Peter Ames Carlin, chronicles Simon’s longtime professional troubles, from childhood on, with Art Garfunkel, along with future issues Simon had with musicians — including legendary Muscle Shoals studio vets “The Swampers” and Los Lobos. Both groups claim in the book that Simon brazenly and unapologetically co-opted their ideas and music for himself.
In August 2016, Simon made it clear he’s not retiring. Following Simon’s New York Times interview, the lazier aspects of the entertainment press ran with a comment of Simon’s which they supposed signaled the end of his songwriting career — without actually properly reading and thinking about what he said. CNN.com reported during Simon’s chat with Washington insider David Axelrod on his The Axe Files podcast, Simon explained, “The truth is I didn’t say that I was going to stop. I said, ‘I think it would be interesting to stop for a period time.’ If I denied the normal course of my creative impulses, if I denied them their destination in the form of a song or music, I thought this could be interesting to see what will I think of. . . I feel like I am actually at the top.”
Back in May 2015, Art Garfunkel slammed Paul Simon for continuing full force on his solo career, seemingly oblivious to both Garfunkel and their fans’ pleas for yet another Simon & Garfunkel reunion, saying he had “created a monster” by befriending and supporting Simon while school kids back in Queens and referred to Simon alternately as a “jerk” and an “idiot” for splitting with him in 1971 at the peak of the duo’s success. Garfunkel also went on to agree with the interviewer who suggested that the five-foot, three-inch Simon might suffer from a “Napoleon complex.”
After that, during Garfunkel’s chat with The Guardian, he once again touched upon his relationship with Simon, saying, “Paul Simon is a man who has enormously enriched my life, period. . . we’ve enriched each other’s lives. What would have been his life if his friend Artie didn’t sing so good and been so good and produced those records so good? What would it have been? Something smaller.”
In 2016 Paul Simon reflected on his relationship with Art Garfunkel admitting to Billboard: “There’s nothing much to say. It’s just Artie. He’s wrestling with his demons. That’s him. It’s his life. I’m sorry he’s angry to that degree, at this point in life.”
In June 2014, charges were dropped against Simon and his wife Edie Brickell following their minor physical altercation the previous April 26th, which led to their arrest on disorderly conduct charges at their home in New Canaan, Connecticut.
According to the police reports, it was Simon who called 911 — and hung up — while Brickell was arguing with her mother, who was visiting from Texas. When police arrived they heard Brickell yelling inside a cottage, which is a separate music studio apart from the house, with Simon waiting outside.
Brickell, reportedly entered the cottage “to confront Simon on something which he’d done that broke her heart,” and stated that Simon “cannot handle being criticized in any manner and became confrontational with her,” and accused him of acting like a “spoiled baby.” It was reported that Brickell had a “moderate odor of alcohol” on her breath.
The singer admitted that she had struck Simon, saying, “I didn’t hit him. I slapped him.” Simon who “suffered a small superficial cut on his ear as a result of the slap, admitted to shoving his wife and calling 911 after she slapped him.”
At their initial court appearance, Simon, who held hands with Brickell while walking into the courthouse and throughout their first appearance in front of the judge, told the court: “We had an argument, which is atypical of us. Neither of us has any fear or any reason to feel threatened. I don’t feel like I need to be protected. Both of us are fine together. We’re going home together, and we’re going to watch our son play baseball.”
Simon & Garfunkel have recently reissued their entire catalogue on 12-inch vinyl. Simon & Garfunkel – The Complete Columbia Albums Collection, which features six LP’s, newly remastered and struck on 180 gram audiophile vinyl, with a 20-page booklet and photo poster, housed in a deluxe collectible library box.
The albums featured include: Wednesday Morning, 3.A.M. (1964); Sounds Of Silence (1966); Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme (1966); Bookends (1968); Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970; and Simon And Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits (1972).
Also out is the long out-of-print Simon & Garfunkel: The Concert In Central Park, which is available for the first time on DVD as part of a collectible CD/DVD set, as well as a 12-inch 180 gram audiophile vinyl LP.
PAUL SIMON HISTORY
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.
Throughout the decades, Paul 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 it’s less popular — but essentially, I mean, people are willing to listen, or watch, or read what it is that I make up.”
Photo Courtesy of WEA