10 Songs, 38 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

As a songwriter in a class of his own, Paul Simon never stops swinging wildly for the fences. His lyrics don’t just inform; they dare. The words may be read off the page with nearly the same eloquence as when Simon puts them to one of his indelible melodies. So Beautiful or So What is heralded for being the reunion between Simon and his masterful ‘70s producer, Phil Ramone. While this is certainly a team that knows each other’s strengths, it’s merely a footnote in the greatness behind songs like “Getting Ready For Christmas Day” and “The Afterlife” where Vincent Nguini’s guitar shimmers and glides past the group. “Love and Hard Times” is a piano-based tune that beautifully captures Simon’s melancholia. The songs lean heavy on mortality as Simon marches towards 70. However, he shows no sign of slowing. “Love Is Eternal Sacred Light” kicks up a bar-band romp with spirit and precision. “Questions for the Angels” shows his heart and brain still alight for the less fortunate and for those whose choices are never close to his own inspirations.

EDITORS’ NOTES

As a songwriter in a class of his own, Paul Simon never stops swinging wildly for the fences. His lyrics don’t just inform; they dare. The words may be read off the page with nearly the same eloquence as when Simon puts them to one of his indelible melodies. So Beautiful or So What is heralded for being the reunion between Simon and his masterful ‘70s producer, Phil Ramone. While this is certainly a team that knows each other’s strengths, it’s merely a footnote in the greatness behind songs like “Getting Ready For Christmas Day” and “The Afterlife” where Vincent Nguini’s guitar shimmers and glides past the group. “Love and Hard Times” is a piano-based tune that beautifully captures Simon’s melancholia. The songs lean heavy on mortality as Simon marches towards 70. However, he shows no sign of slowing. “Love Is Eternal Sacred Light” kicks up a bar-band romp with spirit and precision. “Questions for the Angels” shows his heart and brain still alight for the less fortunate and for those whose choices are never close to his own inspirations.

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About Paul Simon

There are musical storytellers—and then there’s the low-key but wildly ambitious Paul Simon, who copyrighted his first song with partner Art Garfunkel when they were in their early teens. Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1941, Simon mixed the mass appeal of ’50s rock ’n’ roll with the introspection of the singer/songwriter era, opening up a universe of emotional terrain previously unexplored in popular music. (Just listen to the playful poetry of 1968’s “Mrs. Robinson” or the existential ache of “The Sound of Silence”—songs you could whistle along to, or subject to rigorous literary analysis.) Though he was originally associated with folk, Simon is a remarkably eclectic artist, drawing variously on gospel and jazz, Brazilian batucada, and, perhaps most famously, South African township music. His landmark 1986 album, Graceland, helped build a bridge for his collaborators Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Hugh Masekela, and Miriam Makeba during the height of apartheid. For as uplifting as his music can be (think: the chorus chant of “Cecilia,” the rocksteady of “Mother and Child Reunion,” and the bright horns of “You Can Call Me Al”), at its heart is a profound bittersweetness. Embarking on his farewell tour in 2018, Simon celebrates an inimitable career spent mining themes of aging, separation, and loss with a muted reserve, suggesting that all things—good and bad—do pass.

HOMETOWN
Newark, NJ
GENRE
Pop
BORN
October 13, 1941

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