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Paul Simon

Paul Simon was one of the most successful and respected songwriters of the second half of the 20th century. Rising to fame in the mid-'60s, Simon's songs were mature and literate, but also melodically engaging, and spoke to the concerns and uncertainties of a generation. As the 1960s gave way to the '70s and '80s, Simon's work tended to focus on the personal rather than the larger world, but he also expanded his musical palette, and helped introduce many rock and pop fans to world music.

Paul Frederic Simon was born in Newark, New Jersey on October 13, 1941. His father, Louis Simon, was an educator who also led a small jazz combo, while his mother, Belle Simon, taught English; when Paul was a few months old, they moved from Newark to Queens, New York. Paul grew up with a passion for baseball and music, particularly jazz and folk, and as he entered his teens, he developed a taste for the doo wop and R&B sounds that were a staple of Alan Freed's radio broadcasts, as well as first-generation rockabillies such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. When Simon was 11 years old, he met Art Garfunkel, and the two became fast friends who discovered they shared an interest in music. Paul and Art formed a harmony duo in the style of their heroes the Everly Brothers, and made their stage debut at a junior-high talent show. By the time they were enrolled at Forest Hills High School, the two were calling themselves Tom & Jerry (Art was Tom Graph, Paul was Jerry Landis), and they filled their spare time playing teen dances and parties. In 1955, the two wrote a song together, "The Girl for Me," which Simon registered for copyright with the Library of Congress. In 1957, Tom & Jerry were cutting a demo acetate of Simon's song "Hey Schoolgirl" when the president of a small record company (ironically named Big Records) happened by the studio. The label head liked what he heard, and "Hey Schoolgirl" b/w "Dancin' Wild" was released in the fall of 1957. The record rose to number 52 on the Billboard pop singles charts, and scored Tom & Jerry an appearance on American Bandstand, but while they would cut a number of follow-up releases, "Hey Schoolgirl" was destined to be Tom & Jerry's only hit.

By March 1958, Simon was already looking toward a solo career, cutting a single, "True or False" b/w "Teen Age Fool," under the name True Taylor. Jerry Landis also landed his own record deal, releasing his debut single, "Anna Belle" b/w "Loneliness," in 1959, while Simon also worked with a studio group called the Cosines, who specialized in cutting demos for songwriters. (Another member of the combo was Carole Klein, who would soon enjoy a successful career of her own as Carole King.) By the end of the decade, Paul and Art were both enrolled in college, and Tom & Jerry took a back seat to academics, though Simon would record occasional sessions and wrote songs for others. In 1961, Simon teamed up with a handful of vocalists to form a group called Tico & the Triumphs; the group cut a single, "Motorcycle" b/w "I Don't Believe Them," which barely broke into the Billboard singles charts, making number 99 for one week, but received extensive airplay in Baltimore and became a local hit in the Charm City. "Motorcycle" was released by Amy Records, who soon turned to Simon to write and produce material for several of their artists, including Ritchie Cordell, the Fashions, Dottie Daniels, and Jay Walker & the Pedestrians. Simon also found time to cut another Jerry Landis single, and "The Lone Teen Ranger" spent three weeks on the Billboard charts in early 1963, peaking at number 97.

In the early '60s, the folk revival swept New York City, and a new breed of singers and songwriters introduced a new approach to the craft of creating tunes. Simon, who had been studying English literature, was influenced and encouraged by the new breed of folkies, and in 1963 he re-teamed with Art Garfunkel, this time using their real names and performing the more topical songs Simon was writing. Simon & Garfunkel started playing Greenwich Village folk clubs, and they scored a deal with Columbia Records, releasing their first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, in the fall of 1964. The album was initially a flop, and Simon headed to England, where he made the rounds of folk clubs, recorded some BBC sessions, and even cut a solo album, The Paul Simon Songbook, which was released only in the U.K. Simon also co-wrote a few pop tunes with Bruce Woodley of the Seekers, one of which, "Red Rubber Ball," would become a big hit for the Cyrkle. In late 1965, Tom Wilson, who produced the Wednesday Morning, 3 AM album, learned that one of the songs from the LP, "The Sound of Silence," was getting scattered radio airplay, and he struck upon the idea of dubbing a rock & roll rhythm section over the acoustic track and issuing it as a single. The strategy worked: the new version of "The Sound of Silence" was a big hit, and Simon & Garfunkel quickly re-formed, cutting the album Sounds of Silence, which was released in 1966 and spawned the singles "I Am a Rock" and "Kathy's Song."

Simon & Garfunkel would enjoy impressive success over the next several years, and were one of the few acts from the early-'60s folk revival that would enjoy success with acoustic-based music during the psychedelic era, thanks in large part to Simon's songwriting. But while 1970's Bridge Over Troubled Water was a massive commercial and critical success (and a superb reflection of the end-of-the-decade Zeitgeist of the day), long-simmering creative differences between Simon and Garfunkel came to a head while making the album, and a hiatus from collaborating became a proper breakup when Simon released his self-titled solo album in 1972. Paul Simon featured two hit singles, "Mother and Child Reunion" and "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard," and found Simon experimenting with reggae and Latin music, as well as polished soft rock.

Released in 1973, There Goes Rhymin' Simon was a more ambitious follow-up, sounding largely optimistic and dipping its toes into gospel and New Orleans jazz as well as R&B-based rock and pop. In 1975, Simon released Still Crazy After All These Years, an album informed by his divorce from his first wife, Peggy Harper. Still Crazy included the song "My Little Town," which reunited Simon with Art Garfunkel for the first time since Bridge Over Troubled Water. Simon's next project proved to have a long gestation period; he wrote a screenplay about a musician struggling to save his marriage and his career, and penned a set of songs to accompany it. Simon also starred in the subsequent film, and while One Trick Pony wasn't his first bit of film acting (he played a small but memorable role in Woody Allen's Annie Hall), he didn't fare well alongside a cast of seasoned professionals when the movie debuted in 1980. One Trick Pony's soundtrack album (his first album for Warner Bros. after a long working relationship with Columbia) spawned the hit single "Late in the Evening," but otherwise proved to be a disappointment in terms of sales.

In September 1981, Simon & Garfunkel played a massive reunion concert in New York's Central Park, which led to a brief reunion tour. The Central Park show was released as a live album that was a major commercial success, and the duo made plans to record a new album. But Simon and Garfunkel found themselves at odds in the studio, and Simon's next album, 1983's Hearts and Bones, featured no contributions from Garfunkel. The album sold poorly, and by Simon's own admission he was running short on inspiration when he heard an album of "township jive" by the South African group the Boyoyo Boys. Fascinated by the eclectic blend of creative elements, Simon began creating an album inspired by South African pop, recorded primarily in Johannesburg with a band of South African musicians. The result was 1986's Graceland, which became an unexpected smash hit, spawning several hit singles, introducing an international audience to South African rhythms, and prompting a renewed dialogue about the nation's repressive apartheid regime. (The album also generated a certain amount of controversy, as some believed the recording sessions violated a United Nations-led cultural boycott against South Africa; also, several members of the group Los Lobos, who appeared on the album, claimed Simon lifted their melody for the tune "All Around the World, or the Myth of Fingerprints" without giving them songwriting credit.) Simon turned to Brazilian music for inspiration on his next album, 1990's The Rhythm of the Saints, which also incorporated a number of the South African players who contributed to Graceland. If not as successful as Graceland, The Rhythm of the Saints still fared quite well with fans and critics, and the two albums reestablished Simon as a vital contemporary artist.

After releasing a live album from the tour in support of The Rhythm of the Saints, Simon retreated to work on another unusual project, a Broadway musical called The Capeman, which was based on the true story of Salvador Agron, a Latino gang member and convicted murderer turned poet and activist. Simon wrote the book for The Capeman in collaboration with Derek Walcott, and composed a set of new songs for the show. However, the production proved difficult and the play, which opened in 1998, received poor reviews and closed after just 68 performances due to slow ticket sales. (A revised version of the show was staged in 2010, and received significantly better notices.) An album of Simon's interpretations of the show's songs was issued, but was only a modest success; the original cast recording received a belated digital release in 2006.

Stung by the disappointing response to The Capeman, Simon returned to the studio in 2000 to record You're the One, an album that suggested a compromise between the African and Latin sounds he'd embraced and the more intimate approach of his early work. Two years later, Simon once again reunited with Art Garfunkel for a concert tour, and a live album, Old Friends: Live on Stage, was released in 2004. Simon returned in 2006 with Surprise, which found him working with an unlikely producer, Brian Eno. Released in 2011, So Beautiful or So What captured Simon returning to a more organic songwriting style than he'd employed since Graceland, though the tenor of the lyrics confirmed he was still keenly aware of the sounds and ideas of the present day. The album was also his first release for Hear Music; the same label released 2012's Live in New York City, taken from a special intimate hometown concert from the tour in support of So Beautiful. Simon returned in the summer of 2016 with Stranger to Stranger, an album co-produced by his longtime collaborator Roy Halee and released on Concord Records. ~ Mark Deming
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: So Beautiful Or So What

1. Getting Ready For Christmas Day

2. The Afterlife

3. Dazzling Blue

4. Rewrite

5. Love And Hard Times

6. Love Is Eternal Sacred Light

7. Amulet

8. Questions For The Angels

9. Love & Blessings

10. So Beautiful Or So What

x

Track List: Surprise

1. How Can You Live In The Northeast

2. Everything About It Is A Love Song

3. Outrageous

4. Sure Don't Feel Like Love

5. Wartime Prayers

6. Beautiful

7. I Don't Believe

8. Another Galaxy

9. Once Upon A Time There Was An Ocean

10. That's Me

11. Father And Daughter

x

Track List: You're The One

1. That's Where I Belong

2. Darling Lorraine

3. Old

4. You're The One

5. The Teacher

6. Look At That

8. Love

9. Pigs, Sheep And Wolves

10. Hurricane Eye

11. Quiet

x

Track List: Songs From The Capeman (Expanded + Remastered)

1. Adios Hermanos

2. Born In Puerto Rico

4. Bernadette

5. The Vampires

6. Quality

7. Can I Forgive Him

9. Killer Wants To Go To College

11. Virgil

12. Killer Wants To Go To College II

13. Trailways Bus

14. Shoplifting Clothes

16. Can I Forgive Him (Original Demo)

x

Track List: The Rhythm of the Saints

1. The Obvious Child

2. Can't Run But

3. The Coast

4. Proof

5. Further to Fly

6. She Moves On

7. Born At The Right Time

8. The Cool, Cool River

9. Spirit Voices

10. The Rhythm Of The Saints

x

Track List: Negotiations And Love Songs 1971-1986

1. Mother And Child Reunion

2. Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard

3. Something So Right

4. St. Judy's Comet

5. Loves Me Like A Rock

6. Kodachrome

7. Have A Good Time

8. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover

9. Still Crazy After All These Years

10. Late In The Evening

11. Slip Slidin' Away

12. Hearts And Bones

13. Train In The Distance

14. Rene And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War

15. Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes

16. You Can Call Me Al

x

Track List: Graceland

1. The Boy In The Bubble

2. Graceland

3. I Know What I Know

4. Gumboots

5. Diamonds On the Soles Of Her Shoes

6. You Can Call Me Al

7. Under African Skies

8. Homeless

9. Crazy Love, Vol. II

10. That Was Your Mother

11. All Around the World or The Myth Of Fingerprints

x

Track List: Hearts and Bones (Expanded and Remastered)

1. Allergies

2. Hearts And Bones

3. When Numbers Get Serious

4. Think Too Much (B)

5. Song About The Moon

6. Think Too Much (A)

7. Train In The Distance

8. Rene And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War

9. Cars Are Cars

10. The Late Great Johnny Ace

x

Track List: One Trick Pony (Expanded + Remastered)

1. Late In The Evening

2. That's Why God Made Movies

3. One Trick Pony

4. How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns

5. Oh, Marion

6. Ace In The Hole

7. Nobody

8. Jonah

9. God Bless The Absentee

10. Long, Long Day

12. All Because Of You (Outtake)

x

Track List: Still Crazy After All These Years

1. Still Crazy After All These Years

4. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover

5. Night Game

6. Gone At Last

7. Some Folks' Lives Roll Easy

8. Have A Good Time

9. You're Kind

10. Silent Eyes

x

Track List: There Goes Rhymin' Simon

1. Kodachrome

2. Tenderness

3. Take Me To The Mardi Gras

4. Something So Right

5. One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor

6. American Tune

7. Was A Sunny Day

8. Learn How To Fall

9. St. Judy's Comet

10. Loves Me Like A Rock

x

Track List: Paul Simon

1. Mother And Child Reunion

2. Duncan

3. Everything Put Together Falls Apart

4. Run That Body Down

5. Armistice Day

6. Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard

7. Peace Like A River

8. Papa Hobo

9. Hobo's Blues

10. Paranoia Blues

11. Congratulations

x

Track List: The Paul Simon Songbook

1. I Am A Rock

2. Leaves That Are Green

3. A Church Is Burning

4. April Come She Will

5. The Sound Of Silence

6. A Most Peculiar Man

7. He Was My Brother

8. Kathy's Song

9. The Side Of A Hill

10. A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd Into Submission)

11. Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall

12. Patterns

13. I Am A Rock (Alt Version)

14. A Church Is Burning (Alt Version)

x

Track List: Cool Papa Bell (Single)

1. Cool Papa Bell

x

Track List: Stranger To Stranger

1. The Werewolf

2. Wristband

3. The Clock

4. Street Angel

5. Stranger To Stranger

6. In A Parade

7. Proof Of Love

8. In The Garden Of Edie

9. The Riverbank

10. Cool Papa Bell

11. Insomniac's Lullaby

x

Track List: The Afterlife (Radio Single)

1. The Afterlife

x

Track List: The Werewolf (Single)

1. The Werewolf

x

Track List: Wristband (Single)

2. Wristband

Comments

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One of my favorite songs is Mrs. Robinson!!!! ! !
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I ❤️ you Paul Simon!!!!���
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arrowdave6
Ain't it great when April c*ms.
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April Come She Will from The Graduate movie- so great....
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April She Will Come from The Graduate movie. So great....
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You can call me john
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Can't wait till Pinewood Bowl going after work at Lees Chicken date night!!
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He is so good,talente d musician
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❤❤❤❤❤
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kevindochert y 1
so good
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That's cute
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WHERE ID JOAN BAEZ?
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Love this station! !!
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He made me smile.
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cathylindhof f
Michaeldietz e 1 5 5 - it's Kodachrome -a type of film you are prob too young to know. Look it up - have you head about "Google" yet?
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cathylindhof f
I use rhymes from 50 ways to leave your lover, like (what's the plan, Stan) when talking to my six year old grand daughter. She doesn't know the connection but knows I will do it and now she does too. The young need to hear out stuff. I put my iPad on Grateful Dead, Beatles and BobDylan when I'm around her
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Why do other artist played in this station? It will play one or two the randomly play something else?
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I must be one of the few Paul Simon fans out there - but many a lyricist has speculated that Paul was speaking metaphorical l y about a coat Chrome that protected him? I don't know these lyrical guys are way smarter than me
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When the radical priest come to get us released we was all on the cover of Newsweek! Can you tell the Paul went to Catholic school or what?
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My all time favorite musicians and one of the greatest songwriters ever. I love Paul Simon in every phase of his career.
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Who be my role model now that my role model is gone? I hope it's not some little bat faced girl
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I don't find this stuff amusing anymore but if you be my bodyguard I can be your long lost pal
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stevkoontz
My favorite S&G song
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1?mi India n in nkq
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His 60's songs were so beautiful. What a talent.
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felixjames
Chevy Chase in the music video is what i always remembered about this song.
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Al is no longer with us
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Everything looks worse in black and white. But I'm sitting in a railway station waiting for somebody to call me Al
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I went to Biology class with Kahty
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Good job.
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I call him Al.
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wish to have met this gifted legend
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Comments and views are regularly discussed at an open table meeting
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Its just irony....
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Kathy,s song is from the first S & G album Sounds Of Silence.
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What amazing artists! Eternally grateful you decided to leave your footprints :)
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I'm looking for a song from So mom & Garfunkunkel called Kathy's song
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I grew up with Fleetwood Mac, Simon and Garfunkel, Carole King, and the Eagles. I am still happy to listen to them today.
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I grew up with this, and it is still my favorite kind of music to listen to.
Report as inappropriate
I loved the musical score of the Play The Capeman. ! Saw the Broadway Play on the last day of Performance. Political Correctness and Financial Big Whigs; did not like/the social connotations of strife between different cultures and the rift between Puerto Rican gang members fighting white oppression. The plot story based on a true and controversia l murder. The play was black-listed , and panned by all the critics; it never stood a chance. I Love Simon & Garfunkel music of the 60's & 70's & 80's!
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Marc Anthony is one of the best of the best to my concer in this Moment. God bless you boricua.
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mmpete49
Love all 50 60 and 70
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How do I add Judy Collins?
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mike3345mike
great songs!!!
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I saw him today on Paladia and he is still popping!
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lpaulae
Song was before it's time.
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Why talk why not listen
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angie011974
WOW! You can call me Al! Love it. Memories! !!
Report as inappropriate
St. Judy's Comet: My daughter was born under Haley's comet in 1986 right as it was flying over Hanford.
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mike3345mike
I am glad to hear you and any other new singers who would be following with you to sing as great as you do.
Show more

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