Happy Birthday, Guy From Simon & Garfunkel Who Wrote All the Songs
For younger readers of That’s Funky Awesome this may not mean much. You have probably heard his songs (both his solo material and with his early career musical partner in crime, Art Garfunkel), even though you may not know it’s him singing them. Some of you might actually be saying, “Paul Simon is only 70?” For those of us that fall into the ‘boomer’ age category, this milestone may carry a little more weight.
Then again, it might not. Not to sit on the fence here, but I understand if you’re one of the many people out there who appreciate Paul Simon but really only listen to him if he happens to come on the radio or if one of his tunes ends up in a Genius playlist on your laptop. Coming to popular music when he did as a folkie with a bad moustache, Simon has always been a bit of an outsider. He was never really considered cool by the hipsters, either during his years with Garfunkel or when he went solo in 1970. He was, as some might say, a bit of a tight ass scholarly type with a double major in perfectionism, two traits which usually don’t go hand in hand with the oft-romaticized life of a pop star (from any generation). Even when Simon started to loosen up a bit towards the end of the ’70s and dressed up as a giant turkey on Saturday Night Live, you still got the feeling he always knew exactly what he was doing and how things were going to end.
I’ve always watched Simon fairly closely, even when he was venturing off into areas of musical self-discovery that didn’t always interest me personally. I remember as a kid being fascinated with the backstory involved in the recording of The Sound of Silence (more on that here), and by the time Graceland dropped in 1986 (when I was 13) I was a huge fan. In fact, Graceland still ranks as one of my favourite albums of all time. My enthusiasm followed Simon when he released Rhythm of the Saints in 1990, and maybe it was the distance between albums or the songs themselves, but by the time he got around to 1997’s The Capeman I had almost forgotten about Paul Simon. Turns out he’s a pretty easy guy to get re-acquainted with.
Here’s a couple of my personal favourites from the Simon songbook.
I Am a Rock
The Boy in the Bubble
The Obvious Child
Late In the Evening