10 Things You Didn’t Know About Paul Simon
Many a musician would give their left arm and any necessary collateral materials to have a career like the one that Paul Simon has enjoyed. He found huge success as one half of Simon & Garfunkel and went on to have an equally fruitful solo career after the pairing dissolved. Today, at age 70, Simon is still creatively juiced, having released his most recent album 'So Beautiful Or So What' to positive fanfare from both critics and fans alike. Here's a look at 10 things you might be surprised to learn about Paul Simon.
Paul had some musical influence from both sides of his lineage. His mother gave music lessons in her spare time away from her regular day job as an elementary school teacher. His father had an early career playing violin but eventually became a professional musician, playing bass and for a period, was the bandleader on 'The Jackie Gleason Show.'
Early on, Paul's father was very supportive of his musical dreams, complimenting his son's singing voice. Simon, who held his father in extremely high regard because of his involvement in the music business, took the good words to heart and began to seriously consider a career in music.
As Simon explains, he loved the “effortless” sound of Chuck Berry's words and he admits that he borrowed heavily from Berry's lyrical stylings as he was working to develop his own voice as a singer/songwriter.
Crafting material into living breathing songs is where Simon really thrives. He says that he loves working with sounds and rhythms in search of the “abstract” moments that if they hit the mark, create “thoughts and feelings.”
The workparts of what would become one of Simon & Garfunkel's most well-known songs started out as “Mrs. Roosevelt,” with lyrical leanings that suggest the song could have been written about Eleanor Roosevelt. Once it became a candidate for inclusion in the movie 'The Graduate,' the song naturally became 'Mrs. Robinson,' a natural fit with the character of the same name portrayed by Anne Bancroft.
Paul got sucked into the business at age 15 and after only a few years, he was making demos of lots of songs for other people, including Burt Bacharach. Sometimes, Simon would handle all aspects of the demo, recording all of the instruments himself in addition to singing the necessary vocals.
Singer/songwriter Edie Brickell (you know that 'What I Am' song) was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live in 1988 and Simon happened to be standing off-camera watching her performance. When she noticed him, it threw her off guard and she was instantly smitten with Simon. A wedding followed for the pair a few years later when they were married in 1992.
When asked what has been missed through the years in Simon's songwriting, he'll tell you that he's commonly mislabeled as a “serious” person and that if you look at his albums, there's a bit of humor in the songwriting for each one.
Notoriously prickly about product association (having previously blocked 'Lola' by the Kinks because of the Coca-Cola reference), the BBC refused to play 'Kodachrome' and the song was not released as a single in Britain as a result of that highly damaging banishment from airplay.
When working on material for his latest album 'So Beautiful Or So What,' Simon reached out to Bob Dylan with the idea that the pair, who toured together in 1999, would record a duet. Simon's overture for a collaboration went unanswered for reasons that he still can't figure out. The incident sticks in Simon's craw – he's become a bit frustrated over the years with people who compare his work to Dylan's – an opinion he doesn't agree with.