Simon, Paul 1941–
Simon, Paul 1941–
(Paul Kane, Jerry Landis, Paul Frederick Simon)
PERSONAL: Born October 13, 1941, in Newark, NJ; son of Louis (a musician and teacher) and Belle (a teacher) Simon; married Peggy Harper (divorced, 1975); married Carrie Fisher (an actress and writer), 1983 (divorced); married Edie Brickell (a musician), 1992; children: (with Harper) Harper; (with Brickell) Adrian Edward, Lulu, Gabriel. Education: Queens College, B.A.; attended Brooklyn Law School.
CAREER: Singer, songwriter, producer. Performed (as Jerry Landis) with Art Garfunkel in the high school duo Tom and Jerry, 1957–58; performed with Garfunkel in the duo Simon and Garfunkel, 1964–71, reunited briefly with Garfunkel, 1982, 1993, and 2003; solo artist, 1972–.
Actor in films, including Annie Hall, 1977; The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash, 1978; and One Trick Pony, 1980. Crew in film The Graduate, 1967; writer for film One Trick Pony.
Television appearances include: 19th Annual Grammy Awards, 1977; Paul Simon Special, 1978; 100 Years of America's Most Popular Music, 1981; Music Central, 1981; Simon and Garfunkel: The Concert in Central Park, 1982; Simon and Garfunkel in Concert, 1983; We Are the World: The Video Event, 1985; 19th Annual NAACP Image Awards, 1986; 1987 Power Hits New Year's Eve Countdown, 1987; Paul Simon's Graceland: The African Concert, 1987; A Gospel Session: Everyboy Say Yeah! 1987; Sesame Street Special, 1988; Live: The Hard Rock Cafe, 1988; Coca-Cola Presents Live: The Hard Rock, 1988; Saturday Night Live 15th Anniversary, 1989; American Tribute to Vaclev Havel and a Celebration of Democracy in Czechoslovakia, 1990; Late Night with David Letterman 8th Anniversary Special, 1990; Mother Goose Rock n' Rhyme, 1990; 60 Minutes: The Entertainers, 1991; Paul Simon's Concert in the Park, 1991; Living in America, 1991; Racism: Points of View, 1991; Paul Simon: Born at the Right Time, 1992; Farm Aid V, 1992; Rhythm and Jam, 1993; Willie Nelson: The Big Six-0, 1993; Graceland, 1997; Classic Albums: Paul Simon, Graceland, 1997; Saturday Night Live Christmas, 1999; On Tiptoe: The Music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, 2000; On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom, 2000; All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson, 2001; and America: A Tribute to Heroes, 2001.
AWARDS, HONORS: Grammy Awards, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences: two in 1968 (with Art Garfunkel) for the soundtrack recording from the film The Graduate, six in 1970 (with Art Garfunkel) for the record album Bridge over Troubled Water, two in 1975 for the record album Still Crazy after All These Years, and 1987 for the record album Graceland; shared Emmy Award, 1977, for the television show Paul Simon Special; inducted, with Art Garfunkel, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1990; Grammy nomination for album of the year, 2000, for You're the One; honored by the Kennedy Center, 2002; Academy Award nominee for best music, song, and Golden Globe nominee, both 2003, both for "Father and Daughter," from The Wild Thornberrys Movie; BMI Icon Award for contributions to music, 2005.
RECORDINGS; PERFORMED WITH ART GARFUNKEL
Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., Columbia (New York, NY), 1964.
The Sounds of Silence, Columbia (New York, NY), 1966.
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, Columbia (New York, NY), 1966.
Simon and Garfunkel, Allegro, 1967.
The Graduate (soundtrack), Columbia (New York, NY), 1968.
Bookends, Columbia (New York, NY), 1968.
Bridge over Troubled Water, Columbia (New York, NY), 1970.
Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits, Columbia (New York, NY), 1972.
The Simon and Garfunkel Collection (boxed set), CBS, 1981.
The Concert in Central Park, Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA), 1982.
Old Friends, Columbia (New York, NY), 1997.
The Best of Simon and Garfunkel, Columbia/Legacy (New York, NY), 1999.
RECORDINGS; PERFORMED AS A SOLO ARTIST
The Paul Simon Song Book, CBS, 1965.
Paul Simon, Columbia (New York, NY), 1972, remastered, Warner Bros., 2004.
There Goes Rhymin' Simon, Columbia (New York, NY), 1973.
Live Rhymin': Paul Simon in Concert, Columbia (New York, NY), 1974.
Still Crazy after All These Years, Columbia (New York, NY), 1975.
Shampoo (soundtrack), 1975.
Greatest Hits, etc., Columbia (New York, NY), 1977.
One Trick Pony, Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA), 1980.
Hearts and Bones, Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA), 1983.
Graceland, Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA), 1986.
Negotiations and Love Songs, 1971–1986, Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA), 1988.
The Rhythm of the Saints, Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA), 1990.
Paul Simon's Concert in the Park, Warner Bros. (Bur-bank, CA), 1991.
Paul Simon, 1964–1993 (boxed set), Warner Bros. (Bur-bank, CA), 1993.
Paul Simon 1964/1993, Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA), 1993.
Journeys, Virgin Records America (Beverly Hills, CA), 2000.
It's Only Rock & Roll: 50 Years of Music & Film, Rhino (Santa Monica, CA), 2000.
You're the One, Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA), 2000.
Father and Daughter: From the Wild Thornberrys Movie, Nick Records (New York, NY), 2002.
The Paul Simon Collection: On My Way, Don't Know Where I'm Goin', Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA), 2002.
Maid in Manhattan: Music from the Motion Picture, Epic (New York, NY), 2002.
(With others) It's Still Okay to Dream: Save the Children, Atlantic (New York, NY), 2003.
The Paul Simon Songbook, Columbia/Legacy (New York, NY), 2004.
New Songs, Knopf (New York, NY), 1975.
(Writer, songwriter, and actor) One Trick Pony (film), Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA), 1980.
One-Trick Pony (score), Knopf (New York, NY), 1980.
At the Zoo (for children), illustrated by Valerie Michaut, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1991.
Greatest Hits (score), Amsco Publications (New York, NY), 1993.
(With Derek Walcott) The Capeman: A Musical (play), produced on Broadway, 1998.
(With Derek Walcott) The Capeman (book), Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1998.
You're the One (score), Amsco Publications (New York, NY), 2000.
Paul Simon Complete: Music from 1957–1993 (score), Amsco Publications (New York, NY) 2000.
The Essential Simon & Garfunkel (score), Amsco Publications (New York, NY), 2003.
The Definitive Paul Simon Songbook (score), Amsco Publications (New York, NY), 2005.
Recorded as Jerry Landis and Paul Kane early in his career; songs appear on film soundtracks, including Forrest Gump, Almost Famous, The Other Sister, Baby, It's You, Kodachrome, Wings Over the World, Cops and Robbersons, and The Wild Thornberrys Movie.
SIDELIGHTS: Paul Simon's career has spanned decades of American popular music. He learned his craft in the late 1950s, achieved considerable success as half of Simon and Garfunkel in the 1960s, made his mark as a soloist in the 1970s, and has remained an innovative and popular artist. He has been noted as an intelligent and artful lyricist, a tasteful musician, and a dedicated explorer of new musical territory.
Simon's musical career began in 1957, while he was still in high school. He and his friend Art Garfunkel renamed themselves Tom and Jerry and, singing a catchy brand of doo-wop music, had a Top 40 hit with the song "Hey! Schoolgirl." But success was fleeting; no more hits followed, and the boys went back to high school.
Simon spent the next several years at Queens College, where he majored in literature. Influenced by the books he was reading and the earnest, exciting folk music scene prevalent in New York's Greenwich Village, Simon began writing songs that were more sophisticated than anything Tom and Jerry had attempted. He and Garfunkel revived their partnership under their own names, and landed a contract with Columbia Records. Their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., was released in 1964. The record did not gain immediate attention. Its introspective lyrics and folky sound were overshadowed by the big-beat exuberance of the Beatles, who dominated the airwaves in those days. Simon left the United States to spend the summer in England. His first solo album, The Paul Simon Songbook, was released in England in 1965, and contained several songs that would appear in the next Simon and Garfunkel collaboration, The Sounds of Silence.
While Simon was in England, his career took a decisive turn. One track from Simon and Garfunkel's album was receiving repeated requests over the radio. Tom Wilson of Columbia Records decided to cash in on this spark of interest. He overdubbed electric guitar, bass and drums onto the original recording, which simply featured vocals and acoustic guitar. With its new folk-rock sound, "The Sounds of Silence" shot to No. 1 on the U.S. charts. Simon returned home to find that he and Garfunkel were stars.
Enormous success followed. Album by album, Simon and Garfunkel solidified their reputation for intelligent, poetic songs that captured the spirit of the times. Simon did all the songwriting, and was quickly tagged as a poet of alienation. Some critics dismissed his work as pretentious and moody. But many more hailed him as a voice of the times, turning his generation's yearnings and confusions into serious and carefully crafted songs.
Simon and Garfunkel recorded eight albums together, and every one earned a Gold Record. Their partnership culminated in 1970 with Bridge over Troubled Water, which won an unprecedented six Grammy Awards. In the wake of this triumph, the duo broke up, Garfunkel to pursue an acting career, Simon to record his songs on his own terms. The two revived their partnership briefly on several separate occasions. In 1975, they recorded the single "My Little Town," which also appeared on Simon's Still Crazy after All These Years and Garfunkel's Breakaway. In 1978, along with James Taylor, they recorded another single, the Sam Cooke classic "Wonderful World" for Garfunkel's Watermark album. Then in 1982, the duo reunited in front of a half-million people in a free concert in New York City's Central Park. But they soon split up again, the freedom of solo work outweighing the benefits of collaboration.
Simon's "taste" has served him well time and again. His solo album, Still Crazy after All These Years, won a Grammy Award in 1975, and his 1986 album Graceland won two. Simon has continued to hone his skill as a songwriter. The songs on Graceland have been described as complex and ambitious, more mature and more worldly than even the best of his earlier work. But the artistry of his words is not the only constant in Simon's music. He has consistently opened himself up to challenging musical influences. In the early 1970s, he had used Caribbean and South American musical textures on his recordings at a time when those types of music were virtually unknown in the United States. With Graceland, he took the same concept to a new level. The record is a collaboration between Simon and musicians from South Africa, where it was recorded. The fusion of Simon's urbane style and this strongly rhythmic, colorful music led many to characterize Graceland as a milestone in American pop. Simon's exploring did not end in Africa. His next recording, The Rhythm of the Saints, is steeped in the music of Brazil.
Simon has also worked in film to some extent. He began with a small role in Woody Allen's 1977 film Annie Hall, and 1980 saw the release of One-Trick Pony, a semi-autobiographical film about life in the music business. Simon wrote the screenplay and the musical score, and plays the lead role. He also appeared in the film, The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash. But it is as a songwriter and musician that Paul Simon continues to make his mark, crafting mature, poetic pop songs and widening the boundaries of the genre.
One of the disappointments of Simon's career was his Broadway show The Capeman: A Musical. He collaborated with Caribbean poet Derek Walcott to bring to the stage the story of Salvador Agron, a Puerto Rican teen convicted of murder in 1959. Agron, the leader of a New York gang called the Vampires, wore a black and red cape. He was sentenced to die in the electric chair, but then-governor Nelson Rockefeller commuted his sentence to life. Agron was a repentant and model prisoner and eventually was paroled to spend the rest of his life uneventfully. Simon grew up during this period and was inspired to tell this story of redemption. He incorporated doo-wop and Latin rhythms into his production, but one critique was that the play, which starred Ruben Blades, Marc Anthony, and Ednita Nazario, lacked movement. The Hispanic community, which suffered in the wake of the Agron killings, was supportive, but in spite of a very large budget, a beautiful set, and a highly praised score, the show closed two months after its opening.
In a 1999 Entertainment Weekly article, Simon was named number seventy in a list of the top one hundred greatest entertainers. The next year, after a pause of a decade, Simon released You're the One. Entertainment Weekly contributor Chris Willman noted that the songs on this album are "about maturing and mortality." Themes include life and death, love and love lost, and spirituality. Simon infuses his songs with African sounds that compliment his poetry.
Simon was honored by the Kennedy Center in 2002 for his contributions to music. He and Garfunkel toured again two decades after the last time they appeared together. Old Friends: The 2003 Concert Tour began in October and ended in December and encompassed nearly three dozen cities. Following the tour, they donated one million dollars to the Children's Health Fund to fund the organization's network for poor and homeless children and their pediatric preparedness program. In that same year, Simon's "Father and Daughter," written for The Wild Thornberrys Movie, was nominated for both a Golden Globe and Academy Award. His older son, Adrian, sang with his father for this song that Simon considers a tribute to his "very special relationship" with his daughter, Lulu, as he noted in an interview with Tamara Coniff for Hollywood Reporter. Simon told Coniff that he was working on another album and said that he is writing songs similar to "Father and Daughter." "I'm trying to be as simple as possible and as clear as I can lyrically and keep the rhythm of it very American. It's not coming from any other cultural place." Simon's "Bridge over Troubled Water" is one of the selections featured on It's Still Okay to Dream: Save the Children, an album created to raise funds for that organization.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Musicians, Volume 16, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television, Volume 28, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Entertainment Weekly, November 1, 1999, David Hochman, "70 Paul Simon: He Mapped Our Psyche and the World's Music," p. 127; October 6, 2000, Chris Willman, review of You're the One, p. 85.
Hollywood Reporter, January 9, 2003, Tamara Coniff, "'Father and Daughter' a Simon Family Affair," p. 8.
TCI, May, 1998, David Johnson, "Tale of the Cape: Designer Peter Fitzgerald Brings a Recording Studio Sound to Paul Simon's Broadway Debut," p. 42.
Time, February 2, 1998, Richard Zoglin, "Seeking Salvation for The Capeman," p. 70.
AllMusic, http://www.allmusic.com/ (January 26, 2006), profile of Simon.
Simon and Garfunkel.com, http://www.simonandgarfunkel.com/ (February 17, 2006).
Paul Simon Web site, http://www.wbr.com/paulsimon (February 17, 2006).