Paul Simon

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Paul Simon
Paul Simon performing March 8, 2007
Paul Simon performing March 8, 2007
Background information
Born October 13, 1941 (1941-10-13) (age 67)
Origin Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Genre(s) Folk rock, folk pop, rock, world
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, musician, record producer
Instrument(s) Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, piano, percussion
Years active 1957 - present
Label(s) Columbia Records, Warner Bros. Records
Associated acts Simon and Garfunkel
Notable instrument(s)
Martin PS-2 Paul Simon

Yamaha PS Signature Models

Paul Frederic Simon (born October 13, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter and musician, perhaps best known for his partnership with Art Garfunkel in the duo Simon & Garfunkel. In 2006, Time magazine called him one of the 100 "people who shape our world."[1] As of 2007, he resides in New Canaan, Connecticut.[2]


[edit] Biography

[edit] Early life and career

Paul Simon was born in Newark, New Jersey to Jewish Hungarian parents Bella (b. 1910, d. June 16, 2007), an Elementary School teacher, and Louis Simon (b. circa 1916, d. Jan. 17, 1995), a college professor, bassoon player, and dance bandleader who performed under the name "Lee Sims." In 1941 his family moved to Kew Gardens in New York City. Simon's musical career began at Forest Hills High School when he and his friend Art Garfunkel began singing together as a duo, occasionally performing at school dances. Their idols were the Everly Brothers, whom they often emulated or imitated in their early recordings. Simon and Garfunkel were named "Tom & Jerry" by their record company and it was under this name that the duo first had success. In 1957, they recorded the single "Hey, Schoolgirl" on Big Records; it reached forty-nine on the pop charts while they were still in their teens.

After graduating from high school, Simon attended Queens College, while Garfunkel studied at Columbia University in Manhattan. Simon was a brother in the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. Though Simon earned a degree in English literature, his real passion was rock and roll. Between 1957 and 1964, Simon wrote, recorded, and released more than thirty songs, occasionally reuniting with Garfunkel as Tom & Jerry for some singles, including "Our Song," "That's My Story," and "Surrender, Please Surrender," among others. He also briefly attended Brooklyn Law School.

Most of the songs Simon recorded in the six years after 1957 were performed alone or with musicians other than Garfunkel. They were released on several minor record labels, such as Amy, ABC-Paramount, Big, Hunt, Ember, King, Tribute, and Madison. He used several different pseudonyms for these recordings, including Jerry Landis, Paul Kane (from Orson Welles's film Citizen Kane) and True Taylor. Simon enjoyed some moderate success in recording a few singles as part of a group called Tico and the Triumphs, including a song called "Motorcycle" which reached #97 on the Billboard charts in 1962. Tico and the Triumphs released four 45s. Marty Cooper, a member of the group, sang lead on several of these releases and was actually known as Tico. Bobby Susser, children's songwriter and record producer, and childhood friend of Simon's, co-produced the Tico 45s with Simon. That same year, Paul reached #99 on the pop charts as Jerry Landis with the hit "The Lone Teen Ranger." Both chart singles were released on Amy Records. Paul (Jerry Landis) also produced Ritchie Cordell's "Tick-Tock" for the RORI record label in 1962 using Les Levine to work the Bass vocals.

During the mid-1960s, while living in the United Kingdom he performed at Les Cousins in London and toured provincial folk clubs. In these venues he was exposed to a wide range of musical influences and, while in England, recorded his solo The Paul Simon Songbook in 1965. In late 1965 whilst touring England, he performed at a large house in Great Shelford near Cambridge which was the location for the 21st birthday celebration of Libby January, girlfriend of Pink Floyd album cover designer Storm Thorgerson. The Pink Floyd Sound and David Gilmour's band Jokers Wild also performed at this party with a then unknown Paul Simon. This location was to be later used for the Cover Art on Pink Floyd's 1969 double album Ummagumma. During his time in the U.K. Simon co-wrote several songs with Bruce Woodley of the Australian pop group The Seekers. "I Wish You Could Be Here," "Cloudy", and "Red Rubber Ball" were written during this period. However, Woodley's co-authorship credit was incorrectly omitted from "Cloudy" off the Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme album. When the American group The Cyrkle recorded a cover of "Red Rubber Ball," the song reached number two in the US. Simon also contributed his original composition to The Seekers catalogue, "Someday One Day," which was released in March 1966.

[edit] Simon & Garfunkel

In early 1964, Simon and Garfunkel got an audition with Columbia Records, whose executives were impressed enough to sign the duo to a contract to produce an album. According to a February 2001 writing from Bud Scoppa, Miles Davis was a member of the Columbia Records staff that offered the duo a record deal.[citation needed] Columbia decided that the two would be called simply "Simon & Garfunkel," which Simon claimed in 2003, was the first time that artists' ethnic names had been used in pop music.[3]

Simon and Garfunkel's first LP, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. was released on October 19, 1964 and comprised twelve songs in the folk vein, five of them written by Simon. The album initially flopped, but East Coast radio stations began receiving requests for one of the tracks, Simon's "The Sound of Silence." Their producer, Tom Wilson, overdubbed the track with electric guitar, bass, and drums, releasing it as a single that eventually went to number one on the pop charts in the USA.

Simon had gone to England after the initial failure of Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., pursuing a solo career (including collaborations with Bruce Woodley of The Seekers) and releasing the album The Paul Simon Song Book in the UK in 1965. But he returned to the USA to reunite with Garfunkel after "The Sound of Silence" had started to enjoy commercial success. Together they recorded four influential albums, Sounds of Silence, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, Bookends and Bridge over Troubled Water. Simon and Garfunkel also contributed extensively to the soundtrack of the 1967 Mike Nichols film The Graduate (starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft). While writing "Mrs. Robinson," Simon originally toyed with the title "Mrs. Roosevelt." When Garfunkel reported this indecision over the song's name to the director, Nichols replied, "Don't be ridiculous! We're making a movie here! It's Mrs. Robinson!"[4]

Simon pursued solo projects after the duo released their very popular album Bridge over Troubled Water. Occasionally, he and Garfunkel did reunite, such as in 1975 for their Top Ten single "My Little Town," which Simon originally wrote for Garfunkel, claiming Garfunkel's solo output was lacking "bite." The song was included on their respective solo albums; Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years, and Garfunkel's Breakaway. Contrary to popular belief, the song is not at all autobiographical of Simon's early life in New York.[5] In 1981, they got together again for the famous concert in Central Park, followed by a world tour and an aborted reunion album Think Too Much, which was eventually released (sans Garfunkel) as Hearts and Bones. Together, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

In 2003, the two reunited again when they received Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. This reunion led to a U.S. tour, the acclaimed "Old Friends" concert series, followed by a 2004 international encore, which culminated in a free concert at the Colosseum in Rome. That final concert drew 600,000 people — 100,000 more than had attended Paul McCartney's concert at the same venue a year earlier.[6]

[edit] Solo career

Simon at the Olympia, Paris during the shooting of You're the One in concert.

After Simon and Garfunkel split in 1970, Simon began to write and record solo material. He released Paul Simon in 1972, which contained one of his first experiments with world music, the Jamaican-inspired "Mother and Child Reunion", and There Goes Rhymin' Simon in 1973, which featured such popular hit songs as "Something So Right" (a tribute to his first wife, Peggy), "Kodachrome", "American Tune", and "Loves Me Like a Rock", the latter two obliquely referencing the dark cloud of the Watergate scandal involving the Nixon administration. His 1975 album Still Crazy After All These Years is considered to be among his finest work, particularly the title track and the hit single "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover." Over the next five years, Simon dabbled in various projects, including writing music for the film Shampoo (a project which was eventually scrapped) and acting (he was cast as Tony Lacey in Woody Allen's film Annie Hall). He continued, though less prolifically, to produce hits such as "Slip Slidin' Away" (on Simon's final Columbia album Greatest Hits, Etc. in 1977) and "Late in the Evening," (on 1980's One Trick Pony album) while often appearing on Saturday Night Live. The One Trick Pony album, Simon's first album with Warner Bros. Records (which also took over distribution of Simon's solo Columbia recordings from 1972 on) was also paired with a major motion picture of the same name, with Simon in the starring role. Simon's next album Hearts and Bones, while critically acclaimed, did not yield any hit singles and marked a lull in his commercial popularity in the early 1980s. The album featured "The Late Great Johnny Ace", a song partly about Johnny Ace, a U.S rhythm and blues singer, and partly about slain ex-Beatle John Lennon.

In 1985, Simon lent his talents to USA for Africa and performed on the famine relief fundraising single "We Are the World". In 1986 he released the immensely popular Graceland, for which he won a Grammy. The album featured the groundbreaking use of African rhythms and performers such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In 1990, he followed up Graceland with the commercially successful and consistent successor album The Rhythm of the Saints, which featured Brazilian musical themes. These albums helped to popularize world music as a genre. The importance of both albums allowed Simon to stage another New York concert, and on August 15, 1991, almost 10 years after his concert with Garfunkel, Simon staged another concert in Central Park with both African and South American bands. The success led to both a live album and an Emmy winning TV special.

Paul continued to enjoy his success throughout the 90s. However, his 1997 release Songs From The Capeman failed tremendously and he lost 11 million dollars with the failure of the musical he wrote for it. In 2000, though, his next studio album You're the One, while not reaching the commercial heights of previous albums, was considered by many fans and critics to be an artistic success and received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. A DVD of the same title, taped in Paris, was released in 2000. In 2002 he recorded the theme song for the animated children's movie The Wild Thornberrys Movie called "Father and Daughter". It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. This was included as the closer on Paul's most recent album, Surprise.

Live performance in Germany, 2008

Simon's latest album, Surprise, produced by himself and Brian Eno (who was credited with "sonic landscapes"), was released on May 9, 2006. In commenting on US TV show Ellen what drove him to write material for this latest album, Simon noted the events of September 11, 2001 and also turning 60 since his previous album You're the One. Simon toured the USA in early 2006, playing songs from Surprise as well as his classics. Towards the end of the year, he toured Surprise in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Simon is one of a small number of performers such as Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Johnny Rivers, Billy Joel, Pink Floyd (from 1975's Wish You Were Here onward), Queen, Genesis (though under the members' individual names and/or the pseudonym Gelring Limited) and Neil Diamond who have their name as the copyright owner on their recordings (most records have the recording company as the named owner of the recording).

Simon is also one of the practitioners of a creative and distinctive fingerstyle guitar style in popular music. His instrumental proficiency (influenced by British guitarist Davey Graham as evidenced by his cover of Graham’s very difficult Anji from Sounds of Silence) has always been highly underrated and practically invisible as a guitarist. His Cole Porter-esque compositional abilities with his combination of jazz-tinged chords and seamless, romantic, poetic lyrics ranged throughout all his different songwriting styles.

In February 2009, Simon performed back-to-back shows in his native New York City at the Beacon Theater, which had recently been renovated. Simon was reunited with Art Garfunkel at the first show as well as with the cast of The Capeman; also playing in the band was Graceland bassist Bakithi Kumalo.

[edit] 2004 reissues

In 2004, Simon's record company announced the release of expanded editions of each of his solo albums, individually and together in a limited-edition nine-disc boxed set, Paul Simon: The Studio Recordings 1972–2000. The expanded individual albums feature a total of thirty bonus tracks, including original song demos, live recordings, duets, six never-before-released songs, and outtakes from each of his nine solo albums.

Simon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a second time in 2000 for his achievements as a solo artist. (The first time was together with Art Garfunkel for their work as Simon and Garfunkel.)

[edit] Music for Broadway

In the late 1990s, he also wrote and produced a Broadway musical called The Capeman, which lost $11 million during its 1998 run. Though the musical failed, the music itself is considered to be some of Simon's finest. In April 2008, the Brooklyn Academy of Music celebrated Paul Simon's works, and dedicated a week to Songs From the Capeman with a good portion of the show's songs performed by a cast of singers and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. Simon himself appeared during the BAM shows, performing Trailways Bus and Late In the Evening.

[edit] Film and television

Simon has also dabbled in acting. He played music producer Tony Lacey in the 1977 Woody Allen film Annie Hall, and wrote and starred in 1980's One Trick Pony as Jonah Levin, a journeyman rock and roller. Simon also wrote all the songs in the film. Paul Simon also appeared on The Muppet Show (the only episode to use only the songs of one songwriter, Simon). In 1990, he played the character Simple Simon on the Disney channel TV movie, Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme.

Simon has also appeared on Saturday Night Live (SNL) either as host or musical guest for a total of 12 times. On one appearance in the late 1980s, he worked with his political namesake, Illinois Senator Paul Simon.[7]

His most recent SNL appearance was the May 13, 2006 episode hosted by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. He performed two new songs from his Surprise album, "How Can You Live in the Northeast?" and "Outrageous". In one SNL skit from 1986 (when he was promoting Graceland), Simon plays himself, waiting in line with a friend to get into a movie. He amazes his friend by remembering intricate details about prior meetings with passers-by, but draws a complete blank when approached by Art Garfunkel, despite the latter's numerous memory prompts.

Simon also appeared alongside George Harrison as musical guest on the Thanksgiving Day episode of SNL (November 20, 1976). The two performed "Here Comes the Sun" and "Homeward Bound" together, while Simon performed "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" solo earlier in the show. On that same episode, Simon opened the show singing "Still Crazy After All These Years" in a turkey outfit, since Thanksgiving was the following week. About halfway through the song, Simon tells the band to stop playing because of his embarrassment. After giving a frustrating speech to the audience, he leaves the stage, backed by applause. Lorne Michaels positively greets him backstage, but Simon is still upset, yelling at him because of the humiliating turkey outfit. This is one of SNL's most played sketches.

On September 29, 2001, Simon made a special appearance on the first SNL to air after the September 11, 2001 attacks. On that show, he performed "The Boxer" to the audience and the NYC firefighters and police officers. He is also friends with former SNL star Chevy Chase, who appeared in his video for "You Can Call Me Al" lip synching the song while Simon looks disgruntled and mimes backing vocals and the playing of various instruments beside him. He is a close friend of SNL producer Lorne Michaels, who produced the 1977 TV show The Paul Simon Special, as well as the Simon and Garfunkel concert in Central Park four years later. Simon and Lorne Michaels were the subjects of a 2006 episode of the Sundance channel documentary series, Iconoclasts.

He has been the subject of two films by Jeremy Marre, the first on Graceland, the second on The Capeman.

On November 18, 2008, Simon was a guest on The Colbert Report promoting his book "Lyrics 1964-2008". He did an interview with Stephen Colbert and then performed "American Tune".

Simon performed a Stevie Wonder song at the White House in 2009, for an honor to Wonder's musical career and contributions, hosted by President Barack Obama.

In May of 2009, The Library of Congress: Paul Simon and Friends Live Concert, comes to DVD, via Shout! Factory. The Hit PBS Concert was made in 2007.

[edit] Honors

Simon is a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — as a solo artist in 2001, and in 1990 as half of Simon and Garfunkel. In 2002, Simon was one of the five annual recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, the nation's highest tribute to performing and cultural artists. He received the award after Sir Paul McCartney withdrew, citing "personal considerations."

On March 1, 2007, Simon was announced as the recipient of the first annual Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, which he received on May 23, 2007. The award recognizes the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture. Upon being notified of receiving this honor, Simon said, “I am grateful to be the recipient of the Gershwin Prize and doubly honored to be the first. I look forward to spending an evening in the company of artists I admire at the award ceremony in May. I can think of a few who have expressed my words and music far better than I. I’m excited at the prospect of that happening again. It’s a songwriter’s dream come true."[8] Simon was also reunited with Art Garfunkel for the occasion, when they performed "Bridge over Troubled Water" and "Cecilia."

The Gershwin Prize event was nationally broadcast on PBS on June 27, 2007.[8][9][10]

[edit] Personal life

Simon has been married three times. His first marriage was to Peggy Harper; they were married in late autumn 1969. They had a son, Harper Simon, in 1972. They divorced in 1975. The song "Train in the Distance," from Simon's 1983 album, is about this relationship. [11] Simon's 1972 song "Run That Body Down," from his debut solo album, casually mentions both himself and his then-wife ("Peg") by name.

His second marriage was to actress and author Carrie Fisher to whom he proposed after a New York Yankees game.[12] (The song "Hearts and Bones" was written about this relationship.)

He married folk singer Edie Brickell on May 30, 1992. They have three children together.

[edit] Philanthropy

Simon is a proponent of music education for children. In 2003, he signed on as an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit organization that provides free musical instruments and free lessons to children in public schools throughout the U.S.A. He sits on the organization's board of directors as an honorary member.

Paul Simon is also a major benefactor and one of the co-founders, with Dr. Irwin Redlener, of the Children's Health Project and The Children's Health Fund[13][14] which started by creating specially equipped "buses" to take medical care to children in medically underserved areas, urban and rural. Their first bus was in the impoverished South Bronx of New York City but they now operate in 12 states, including the Gulf Coast. It has expanded greatly, partnering with major hospitals, local public schools and medical schools and advocating policy for children's health and medical care.

[edit] Discography

[edit] Samples

[edit] Work on Broadway

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Paul Simon - TIME
  2. ^ Lorentzen, Amy, "Simon campaigns in Iowa for Dodd," Associated Press news article as printed in The Advocate of Stamford, Connecticut, with the words "Simon, who lives in New Canaan" added by editors at The Advocate - the words are not found in other versions of the article printed elsewhere, July 7, 2007
  3. ^ Paul Simon, Speech given upon induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, OH, 2003.
  4. ^ David Fricke, in the leaflet accompaniment to the Simon and Garfunkel 1997 album "Old Friends"
  5. ^ "The Boy in the Bubble" by Patrick Humphries, page 96.
  6. ^ Paul Simon News on Yahoo! Music
  7. ^ Former Sen. Paul Simon Dies Fox News
  8. ^ a b Simon To Be Awarded First Gershwin Prize - The Library Today (Library of Congress)
  9. ^ The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song | PBS
  10. ^ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song - Awards and Honors (Library of Congress)
  11. ^ The open Paul Simon biography
  12. ^ Ibid
  13. ^ CHF - The Children's Health Fund
  14. ^ Mobile health units bring medical care to homeless

[edit] External links

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