Paul Simon Ready To Retire?

He’s my favorite singer-songwriter, and his new album is one of his best.  But the New York Times reports that he may be ready to call it a career.

Of course, it’s hard to imagine that someone like him won’t continue to have musical ideas that he’ll want to share.  But the touring and album production I’m sure could get onerous, particularly for someone in his mid-70s.  And from the article, it sounds like he’s got some soul-searching he’s ready to do with time off and the pressure relieved.

Meanwhile, he offered these thoughts on songwriting, which strongly resonated with me based on my experiences writing songs (minus the comparably huge hits that Simon has scored since the 1960s):

“I was 21, maybe 22, when I wrote ‘The Sound of Silence,’ which seems to me like quite a big jump from where I was before that,” he said. “And why or where, I have no idea. I thought the same thing when I wrote ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ —whoa, that song is better than what I’ve been doing. Different chords and something special about it. The same feeling with ‘Graceland,’ and ‘Still Crazy After All These Years.’”

The successes mystify him, he said: “All of a sudden you’re there, and you’re surprised. This happened to me at times where some line comes out, where I’m the audience and it’s real, and I have to stop, because I’m crying. I didn’t know I was going to say that, didn’t know that I felt that, didn’t know that was really true. I have to stop and catch my breath.”

He paused, then added, “It doesn’t happen too often.”

At a basic level, you could simply describe what he experiences as “inspiration” or “being inspired.” But it’s always a mysterious, almost out-of-body experience that he captures really well here.

Regardless of his future plans, I’m deeply appreciative of the legacy of songs he’s created over the last half century. They’ve certainly enriched my life and helped raise the musical standards for artists everywhere.


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