The creator of the hits «Mrs. Robinson» and «The Sound of Silence» Today he turns 80, which is quite an event for the world of music. For this reason we wanted to review his life and work, two dimensions that continue to expand.
His early years
Paul Simon was born on October 13 in New Jersey, in 1941. His mother was a kindergarten teacher and his father a double bass player, who raised him in Queens, on New York. In the same neighborhood, three blocks from his house, he lived Art Garfunkel, with whom he would later found his most successful project. At 15 they recorded the song «Hey schoolgirl», but under the name Tom & Jerry. They sold one hundred thousand copies and reached the 49th place in the ranking of Billboard, what allowed Simon start creating songs for other musicians.
In 1963 Paul and Art meet to create more music and are signed by the label Columbia, which at that time had Bob Dylan in your catalog. The duo recorded Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. but its launch was a failure.
Paul travel to England and takes up the work of composer for other artists, while the song «The Sound of Silence» it sounded more and more. Without your consent, the producer Tom Wilson he took the song, remixed it, and re-released it as the super hit that it is today.
From then on everything was fame and success, records and singles, like Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme; Bookends and Bridge over troubled water. In between they created the soundtrack of the famous tape The graduate. But everything that goes up must come down. While Garfunkel I wanted to keep the sound they had cultivated, Simon I wanted to try new instruments.
Separate the waters
Art he chose to dedicate himself to acting and teaching mathematics in a college; while Paul he worked on his next album, called Paul Simon. He recorded in Jamaica «Mother and child reunion«, thinking it would sound more reggae, and the song «Me and Julio down by the schoolyard» he uses the cuica, a Brazilian percussion instrument. For “Duncan»Summoned the band The Incas, the same ones who played in «The condor passes (if I Could)« in your previous project.
At the time record the disc There goes rhymin’ Simon, an album with strong gospel influences and in which he participated Muscle Shoals, the most prestigious rhythm section of USA. In 1975 he launched Still crazy after all these years, who managed to be first number one in EE.UU and won the Grammy for Album of the Year.
In addition, in the 80s he ventured into the cinema by writing and starring in the film One-Trick Pony, a tape that passed without pain or glory. Anyway, he had previously participated as a supporting actor in Annie Hall from Woody Allen.
Even more, Paul made headlines for marrying Carrie Fisher, his girlfriend for almost six years. But they only lasted 11 months as spouses, and after the divorce they dated a couple of times. She appears in the video clip of «Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog after the War«, And dedicated the songs«Hearts and Bones” and “Graceland«.
After a divorce and failed musical projects, her spirits plummeted and she experienced a depression. He took refuge in music and met the mbaqanga, a popular genre in the neighborhood Soweto, one of the largest segregated sectors in South Africa. Participated in the song «We are the world» from USA For Africa and the producers Quincy Jones and Harry Belafonte They motivated him to get to know the country.
There he had the opportunity to meet his idols and record the music for his album. Graceland, from 1986. But despite the joy and tenderness of his hit «You can call me Al», accused of cultural appropriation and HIM-HER-IT signed him for breaking the boycott that I had put on South Africa. However, he had not traveled to play for white audiences, but to work with artists of color, so the HIM-HER-IT finally removed it from the blacklist.
For this album he worked with the band Juluka, the first interracial group of South Africa. He also took Afro elements from EE.UU, and collaborated with The Wolves, Linda Ronstadt and The Everly Brothers. As if it were easy, he moved to Brazil to work with new musicians, such as Milton Nascimento, Naná Vasconcelos and the percussion group Olodum. With them he created The rhythms of the saints, a record inspired by samba.
The new millennium
His entire career interspersed successes with failures, which is difficult to explain. But one of his highest moments was in the 2000s, when he was nominated for the Oscar for the song “Father and daughter» from The Thornberrys, the movie. This gave him impetus to have a tour with Art and together they recorded Old friends: Live on stage.
In 2006 he contacted Brian Eno to produce it, whose work the album comes from Surprise. In it collaborated Talking Heads, David Bowie, U2 and Bryan Ferry from Roxy Music. After other projects, in 2018 he announced that he was retiring from the stage to be able to spend more time with his family. However, he has not moved away from music and will always be a multifaceted character in the industry.