Simon, Paul

Simon, Paul

▪ American musician
in full  Paul Frederic Simon 
born October 13, 1941, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.

      American singer-songwriter (singer-songwriters) who brought a highbrow sensibility to rock music.

      One of the most paradoxical figures in rock-and-roll history, Simon exemplified many of the principles against which the music initially reacted. From his first big hit, “The Sounds of Silence,” in 1965, Simon aspired to a self-consciously elevated poetic tone in his lyric writing that was the antithesis of rock-and-roll spontaneity. Infatuated with teenage street music in the mid-1950s, he returned throughout his career to the wellspring of dreamy doo-wop vocal harmony for inspiration and refreshment. But his approach to the style that enraptured him was analytical, as though he wanted to enshrine under glass a sound that his surreal 1983 song “René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War” described as “deep forbidden music.”

      As a teenager Simon teamed up with his classmate from Queens, New York, Art Garfunkel, to form Simon and Garfunkel (first known as Tom and Jerry). Beginning with “The Sounds of Silence,” they were the most popular folk-pop duo of the 1960s and the musical darlings of literary-minded college-age baby boomers. In 1967 their music was a key ingredient in the success of the hit film The Graduate, and in 1970 they reached their zenith with Simon's inspirational gospel-flavoured anthem “Bridge over Troubled Water,” which showcased Garfunkel's soaring, semioperatic tenor.

      Simon's best early songs tend to be bookish, angst-ridden reveries with simple folk rock melodies and earnest, poetically ambitious (but often mannered) lyrics, some influenced by Bob Dylan (Dylan, Bob). Simon's best narrative song from this period, “The Boxer” (1969), is the streamlined dramatic monologue of a down-and-out prizefighter.

      Simon's fascination with pop vocal sound quickly expanded to include the sparkle of English folk music, the ethereal pipes and voices of Andean mountain music, and the arching passion of gospel (gospel music). After he and Garfunkel broke up in 1970 (they reunited briefly in the early 1980s for a tour and a live album), Simon pursued a successful career as a singer-songwriter of whimsical, introspective songs with tricky time signatures. His biggest solo success came in 1975 with Still Crazy After All These Years, a collection of wistful ruminations on approaching middle age.

      When his popularity began to ebb, Simon jumped on the emerging world-music (world music) bandwagon. On a visit to South Africa, he met many of the musicians with whom he made Graceland (1986), an exquisite, multifaceted fusion of his own sophisticated stream-of-consciousness poetry with black South Africa's doo-wop-influenced “township jive” and Zulu choral music. Although some accused him of cultural thievery—i.e., the appropriation and exploitation of another culture's music—the album was one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful of the decade and helped put South African music on the world stage.

      Simon made a similar pilgrimage to Brazil to record Rhythm of the Saints (1990), an even denser (and somewhat less popular) fusion of African-derived percussion with American folk rock. Its quirky nonlinear lyrics were indebted to the language of the Nobel Prize-winning Caribbean poet Derek Walcott (Walcott, Derek). Walcott became Simon's collaborator on The Capeman, Simon's first Broadway musical, which opened in January 1998 and was a critical and commercial failure. Based on a highly publicized 1959 New York City murder involving a Puerto Rican street gang, The Capeman featured a score by Simon (Walcott collaborated on the lyrics) that was a theatrical elaboration of the New York street music that had originally inspired him. But it also emphasized the long-underappreciated Hispanic contribution to urban pop.

      In 1999 Simon teamed with Bob Dylan (Dylan, Bob) for a summer tour in the United States. The concert series, which ended Simon's eight-year absence from the road, marked the first time the two performers formally worked together. Later that year Simon continued on a solo tour, and in 2000 released You're the One, an understated and introspective album that was a departure from the expansive sound of Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints.

      Among songwriters of his generation, Simon enjoyed one of the longest-lasting careers as a pop innovator. Searching out and exploring the sounds of indigenous musical cultures, from Southern gospel to Brazilian and West African percussion, he integrated them into American rock and folk styles to create a highly flexible, personalized style of world music that was at once primitive and elegant. Simon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Stephen Holden

Representative Works

Simon and Garfunkel
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966)

Paul Simon
Paul Simon (1972)
Graceland (1986)

Additional Reading
Joseph Morella and Patricia Barey, Simon and Garfunkel: Old Friends (1991), is a dual biography.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужна курсовая?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • SIMON, PAUL FREDERIC — (1941– ), U.S. pop and folk music songwriter known both for his collaboration with childhood friend Arthur ( Art ) garfunkel and for three decades of solo albums; member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Simon was born in Newark, N.J., to Belle… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Simon-Paul Wagner — (* 13. November 1984 in Berlin) ist ein deutscher Schauspieler und Moderator. Von 2000 bis 2011 spielte er die Hauptrolle des Marlon Berger in der Daily Soap „Marienhof“. Wagner nahm Schauspielunterricht in München und Berlin sowie Gesangs und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Simon, Paul (Frederic) — born Oct. 13, 1941, Newark, N.J., U.S. U.S. pop singer and songwriter. Simon began performing with Art Garfunkel (b. 1941) in the 1950s, using the name Tom and Jerry. After a break, the two reunited in 1964 as Simon and Garfunkel. Their first hit …   Universalium

  • Simon, Paul Martin — ▪ 2004       American politician and educator (b. Nov. 29, 1928, Eugene, Ore. d. Dec. 9, 2003, Springfield, Ill.), had a long career in public life that was highlighted by two terms as a U.S. senator (1985–97) and a brief run for the Democratic… …   Universalium

  • Simon, Paul (Frederic) — (n. 13 oct. 1941, Newark, N.J., EE.UU.). Cantautor estadounidense de música popular. En la década de 1950 comenzó a presentarse con Art Garfunkel (n. 1941), bajo el nombre de Tom y Jerry. Después de una ruptura, ambos volvieron a unirse en 1964… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Simon, Paul — (Brooklyn ) (USA)    Sculptor. Studied at Brooklyn College under Ad Reinhardt, Jimmy Ernst, and Milton Brown. Formed the Daggett Street Ten artist group. Works primarily in wood and masonite.    Reproductions: Lovers 2; masonite, aluminum, and… …   Dictionary of erotic artists: painters, sculptors, printmakers, graphic designers and illustrators

  • Agricol-Joseph-Francois-Xavier-Pierre-Esprit-Simon-Paul-Antoine Fortia d'Urban — Agricol Joseph François Xavier Pierre Esprit Simon Paul Antoine Fortia d Urban Pour les articles homonymes, voir Fortia. Agricol Joseph François Xavier Pierre Esprit Simon Paul Antoine, marquis de Fortia d Urban, érudit et historien français, né… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Agricol-Joseph-François-Xavier-Pierre-Esprit-Simon-Paul-Antoine Fortia d'Urban — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Fortia. Agricol Joseph François Xavier Pierre Esprit Simon Paul Antoine, marquis de Fortia d Urban, érudit et historien français, né en 1756 à Avignon, mort en 1843. Il était issu d une antique famille catalane… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Agricol-Joseph-François-Xavier-Pierre-Esprit-Simon-Paul-Antoine Fortia d’Urban — Agricol Joseph François Xavier Pierre Esprit Simon Paul Antoine Fortia d Urban Pour les articles homonymes, voir Fortia. Agricol Joseph François Xavier Pierre Esprit Simon Paul Antoine, marquis de Fortia d Urban, érudit et historien français, né… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Paul Frederic Simon — Paul Simon im Jahr 2007 Paul Frederic Simon (* 13. Oktober 1941 in Newark, New Jersey[1]) ist ein US amerikanischer Musiker und Schauspieler. Zusammen mit seinem Freund Arthur Garfunkel, den er im Frühsommer 1953 bei den Proben zu dem Schauspiel… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”