I wanted to include a place in my page where I discuss an actor or a musician work overall. I started the Spotlight section with Leonardo DiCaprio. I would like to continue this but this time I want to turn to a musician. One change I will make is that I will not do different post for selected works, since mostly this category will not feature new works, I think is better to include the whole body of work in one post.
For this week, I wanted to focus on Paul Simon. He was born on October 13, 1941, and his career has spanned seven decades, starting in 1956 until the present day (Wikipedia, 2019b). In my opinion, he is in the top 5 of the greatest songwriters of all times. For me, he is right there behind John Lennon and Bob Dylan. I find that he has a unique sensibility in his words and has a gift for melodies, but at the same time, he can write rough songs and is not afraid to try new musical styles. He is mostly known as part of the duo Simon and Garfunkel, a period that produced many classic songs and beautiful music, amplified by the beautiful pairing of those two voices. The main force behind the group was Simon’s songwriting. The duo parted ways in 1970 after their masterpiece album “Bridge over Troubled Water”, but Simon continued to have success as a solo artist. He recently announced that he would no longer make long tours, but it’s understandable, he has been “keeping his customers satisfied” for many years.
His best songs in my opinion in no order are:
- Bridge over troubled water. This song became Simon and Garfunkel’s biggest hit, reaching number one on Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also won a Grammy for song of the year. This is in my opinion one of the most beautiful songs I have heard. The lyrics are just so simple but so beautiful. The first section of the song it’s just the vocals and piano and at the end the music rises in a way that it lifts up your spirit. The songs message of love and friendship, the words explaining how no matter how the tides rise, like a bridge he will stand by his/her side. This is definitively Simon’s greatest song.
- The sound of silence. This is the song that broke the duo through and made them known. Released as an acoustic song, the song first failed to be a hit. With Simon in England the producer decided to add a backing band to the voices and the song became a hit. I for one prefer the version made by the producer, I think it added something to the song. The lyrics are very deep and to think this was written by a very young writer, but that was common on those times, the songwriters wrote meaningful words along with the formulated commercial songs.
- Kathy’s song. This is a beautiful love song, and it’s a name that also appears in the song America. Kathy was his girlfriend at the time, while he was in England, it seems upon returning to the United States he still wished to be England. That is clear with the lyric in the song where he says “in England where my heart lies”. This song’s lyrics are very beautiful and personal.
- The Boxer. This is another great song included on their last album. the story of a man who is down and out but declares to the world that the boxer in him still remains inside. The songs musical progression to the end gives the song an epic feeling.
- American Tune. This song comes from his years as a solo artist. Released in 1973, this song expresses the feeling of struggles, weariness, hard work, resignation and confusion (Wikipedia, 2019a). the melody is so beautiful and the go perfectly with the words.
- Me and Julio down by the schoolyard. This song I love simply because it is a fun song and the rhythm of the music is great and so are the words. This one is from his first solo album.
- Graceland. From the album Graceland, considered his best as a solo artist. This song is really beautiful, and I believe it is written in reference to his divorce to Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia from Star Wars). His way of expressing that losing love is a window to your heart is so brilliant.
- Diamonds on the sole of her shoes. What made the album Graceland special is that the album integrated African and American music. This song is a perfect example with the African singers providing the background vocals.
I have yet to hear every album he has made but most of the songs I have heard assure me that he is a true poet and a great songwriter. He has a lot of songs I could include but those are my favorites. If you have not listened to them, I invite you to take a listen.
Wikipedia. (2019a). American Tune. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Tune
Wikipedia. (2019b). Paul Simon. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Simon
Buy Paul Simon music.