Paul Simon

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Still crazy after all these years...

Paul Frederic Simon (born 13 October 1941) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, half of the folk-singing duo Simon and Garfunkel who continues a successful solo career. In 2006, Time Magazine called him one of the "100 people who shape our world". Husband of Edie Brickell.

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I write from instinct, from inexplicable sparkle. ... I wait till I come across a pleasing accident. Then I start to develop it.
  • And the war rages on in a land called somewhere
    And Generals order their men to kill
    And to fight for a cause theyve long ago forgotten
    While a little cloud weeps on the side of a hill.
  • I wanted to sing other types of songs that Simon and Garfunkel wouldn't do. "Mother and Child Reunion" for example, is not a song that you would have normally thought that Simon and Garfunkel would have done. It's possible that they might have. But it wouldn't have been the same, and I don't know if I would have been so inclined in that direction. So for me it was a chance to break out and gamble a little bit ... The breakup had to do with a natural drifting apart as we got older and the separate lives that were more individual. We weren't so consumed with recording and performing. We had other activities ... there was no great pressure to stay together other than money, which exerted very little influence upon us. ... We didn't need the money.
    • On the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel as a musical team. Interview with Jon Landau for Rolling Stone (1972); republished in The Rolling Stone Interviews: 1967-1980 (1989) edited by Peter Herbst, p. 210
  • There was always some kind of strain, but it was workable. The bigger you get, the more of a strain it is, because in your everyday life, you're less used to compromising. As you get bigger, you have your own way. But in a partnership you always have to compromise. ... When you get into a partnership, you're not the boss. There's no boss. That makes it hard.
    • Interview with Jon Landau for Rolling Stone (1972); republished in The Rolling Stone Interviews: 1967-1980 (1989) edited by Peter Herbst, p. 211
  • Instead of thinking in terms of chords, I think of voice-leading; that is, melody line and bass line, and where the bass line goes. If you do that, you'll have the right chord. [These voices] will give you some alternatives, and you can play those different alternatives to hear which one suits your ear... Keep the bass line moving so you don't stay in one spot: if you have an interesting bass line and you roll it against the melody, the chords are going to come out right.
    • As quoted in "Paul Simon's Workshop at the Guitar Study Center" by Richard Albero and Fred Styles in Guitar Player (April 1975), p. 20
We have to be able to expand the vocabulary to express more complex thoughts...
  • I didn't want to repeat the same notes in the second verse that I used in the first, so I wrote out all the notes of the song and all the notes that were missing in the scale, given that there are twelve notes from octave to octave. All those notes that weren't in the scale were the ones I wanted in for the next verse. The listener isn't aware that they are new notes, but the sound is pleasing to the ear. I change the key, and somehow it's fresh because you haven't heard those notes before.
    • As quoted in "Paul Simon's Workshop at the Guitar Study Center" by Richard Albero and Fred Styles in Guitar Player (April 1975), p. 21
  • Well its great to do a neighborhood concert. I hope everyone can hear us. I hope that the sound is good. I hope we are blasting Central Park West and Fifth avenue pretty much away. I just want to thank the police department and the fire department and the parks commissioner, and Ed Koch [Audience boos] — and particularly, you know, people that never get recognized for doing good things for the city, a group of people that have donated half of the proceeds that they're making tonight — the guys who are selling loose joints are giving the city half of their income tonight.
  • I have gone through different phases in my music writing. There was a time when I used a little exercise — incorporating all of the twelve notes in the chromatic scale — to get me going. I used this technique for a while, but I don't any longer because I am going back to simpler melodies. Originally I moved away from the simple songs because I thought they were too simple.
    • "Songwriting" in Making Music (1983) edited by George Martin, p. 70
  • I write from instinct, from inexplicable sparkle. I don't know why I'm writing what I'm writing. Usually, I sit and I let my hands wander on my guitar. And I sing anything. I play anything. And I wait till I come across a pleasing accident. Then I start to develop it. Once you take a piece of musical information, there are certain implications that it automatically contains — the implication of that phrase elongated, contracted, or inverted or in another time signature. So you start with an impulse and go to what your ear likes.
    • Interview with Tony Schwartz in Playboy (February 1984) p. 166
  • [Rock 'n' roll] really is not given to thinking — and resents thinking. Which I believe is the big error of rock 'n' roll. It's always aspired to be the music of the working class. And it's never been looked upon as a vocabulary for art and artistic thinking... We have to be able to expand the vocabulary to express more complex thoughts.
    • Interview in Musician (March 1984), p. 66-68
  • This is near enough true bliss.

Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (1964)

Hello darkness, my old friend I've come to talk with you again...
  • Hello darkness, my old friend
    I've come to talk with you again

    Because a vision softly creeping
    Left its seeds while I was sleeping
    And the vision that was planted in my brain
    Still remains
    Within the sound of silence.
In the naked light I saw ten thousand people maybe more — people talking without speaking — people hearing without listening...
  • And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people maybe more
    People talking without speaking
    People hearing without listening

    People writing songs that voices never shared
    No one dared
    Disturb the sound of silence
    • "The Sound of Silence"
  • "Fools," said I, "you do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows

    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you"
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence.
    • "The Sound of Silence"
And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made...
  • And the people bowed and prayed
    To the neon god they made

    And the sign flashed out its warning
    In the words that it was forming
    And the sign said "The words of the prophets
    Are written on the subway walls
    And tenement halls
    And whispered in the sound of silence"
    • "The Sound of Silence"

Sounds of Silence (1966)

  • A winter’s day
    In a deep and dark December
    I am alone.
    • "I Am a Rock"
I am a rock. I am an island.
  • I am a rock.
    I am an island.
    • "I Am a Rock"
  • I’ve built walls,
    A fortress deep and mighty,
    That none may penetrate.
    I have no need of friendship;
    friendship causes pain.
    It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
    • "I Am a Rock"
And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.
  • If I never loved
    I never would have cried.
    • "I Am a Rock"
  • I am shielded in my armor
    Hiding in my room safe within my womb
    I touch no one and no one touches me.
    I am a rock.
    I am an island.
    And a rock feels no pain.
    And an island never cries.
    • "I Am a Rock"

Bookends (1968)

Orangutans are skeptical of changes in their cages...
  • Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you.
    • "Bookends"
  • Someone told me
    It's all happening at the zoo.
    I do believe it,
    I do believe it's true.
  • The monkeys stand for honesty,
    Giraffes are insincere,
    And the elephants are kindly but
    They're dumb.
    Orangutans are skeptical
    Of changes in their cages,
    And the zookeeper is very fond of rum.
    • "At The Zoo"
  • Zebras are reactionaries,
    Antelopes are missionaries,
    Pigeons plot in secrecy,
    And hamsters turn on frequently.
    • "At The Zoo"

Bridge over Troubled Water (1970)

I get all the news I need from the weather report.
  • I get all the news I need from the weather report.
    • "The Only Living Boy in New York" — released as a single in 1969
File:Bosphorus Bridge by PiXmaniaK.jpg
When times get rough and friends just can't be found like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down...
  • When you're weary
    Feeling small
    When tears are in your eyes
    I will dry them all
    I'm on your side
    When times get rough
    And friends just can't be found
    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will lay me down.
  • I'll take your part
    When darkness comes
    And pain is all around.
    • "Bridge over Troubled Water"
  • Sail on Silver Girl,
    Sail on by
    Your time has come to shine
    All your dreams are on their way
    See how they shine
    If you need a friend
    I'm sailing right behind...
    • "Bridge over Troubled Water"
  • I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail
    Yes I would, if I could, I surely would
    I'd rather be a hammer than a nail
    Yes I would, if I only could, I surely would
    • "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)"

Paul Simon (1972)

No I would not give you false hope
On this strange and mournful day
But the mother and child reunion
Is only a motion away...
  • No I would not give you false hope
    On this strange and mournful day
    But the mother and child reunion
    Is only a motion away
    ,
    Oh, little darling of mine
    I can't for the life of me
    Remember a sadder day
    I know they say let it be
    But it just don't work out that way...
File:Millennium Park Sculpture Inside mirror view of metallic sculpture.jpg
I'm on my way, I don't know where I'm goin',
I'm on my way, I'm takin' my time, but I don't know where...
  • When the papa found out, he began to shout, and he started the investigation
    It's against the law, it was against the law
    What the mama saw, it was against the law.
  • I'm on my way, I don't know where I'm goin',
    I'm on my way, I'm takin' my time, but I don't know where.

    Goodbye to Rosie, the Queen of Corona
    See you, me and Julio down by the schoolyard.
    • "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"

Still Crazy After All These Years (1975)

  • I fear I’ll do some damage
    One fine day
    But I would not be convicted
    By a jury of my peers
    Still crazy
    Still crazy
    Still crazy after all these years.
    • "Still Crazy After All These Years"
  • The problem is all inside your head, she said to me
    The answer is easy if you take it logically
    I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free
    There must be fifty ways to leave your lover.
She said, why don't we both just sleep on it tonight
And I believe, in the morning you'll begin to see the light...
  • Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan
    Don't need to be coy, Roy, just listen to me
    Hop on the bus, Gus, don't need to discuss much
    Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free.
    • "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover"
  • She said, why don't we both just sleep on it tonight
    And I believe, in the morning you'll begin to see the light

    And then she kissed me and I realized she probably was right
    There must be fifty ways to leave your lover, fifty ways to leave your lover
    • "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover"

Hearts and Bones (1983)

  • Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
    Everybody thinks its true.
    • "Train In The Distance"
  • Two disappointed believers
    Two people playing the game
    Negotiations and love songs
    Are often mistaken for one and the same.
    • "Train In The Distance"

Graceland (1986)

I want a shot at redemption Don’t want to end up a cartoon In a cartoon graveyard...
  • A man walks down the street
    He says why am I soft in the middle now
    Why am I soft in the middle
    The rest of my life is so hard

    I need a photo opportunity
    I want a shot at redemption
    Don’t want to end up a cartoon
    In a cartoon graveyard.
  • If you’ll be my bodyguard
    I can be your long lost pal
    I can call you Betty
    And Betty when you call me
    You can call me Al.
    • "You Can Call Me Al"
There were incidents and accidents there were hints and allegations...
  • A man walks down the street
    He says why am I short of attention
    Got a short little span of attention
    And woe my nights are so long
    • "You Can Call Me Al"
  • There were incidents and accidents
    There were hints and allegations...
    • "You Can Call Me Al"
  • A man walks down the street
    It’s a street in a strange world
    Maybe it’s the third world
    Maybe it’s his first time around ...
    He looks around around
    He sees angels in the architecture
    Spinning in infinity
    He says Amen and Hallelujah
    • "You Can Call Me Al
  • And she said "losing love is like a window in your heart."
    • "Graceland

Surprise (2006)

Far above the golden clouds, the darkness vibrates...
  • How can you live in the Northeast? How can you live in the South? How can you build on the banks of a river when the flood water pours from the mouth?
    How can you be a Christian? How can you be a Jew? How can you be a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu?
    How can you?
    • "How can you live in the Northeast?"
  • If the answer is infinite light, why do we sleep in the dark?
    • "How can you live in the Northeast?"
  • Locked in a struggle for the right combination — of words in a melody line, I took a walk along the riverbank of my imagination. Golden clouds were shuffling the sunshine.
    • "Everything About It Is a Love Song"
The earth is blue. And everything about it is a love song.
  • We don't mean to mess things up, but mess them up we do. And then it's "Oh, I'm sorry." Here's a smiling photograph of love when it was new. At a birthday party.
    Make a wish and close your eyes; surprise, surprise, surprise.
    • "Everything About It Is a Love Song"
  • I shoot a thought into the future, and it flies like an arrow, through my lifetime. And beyond.
    If I ever come back as a tree, or a crow, or even the wind-blown dust; find me on the ancient road in the song when the wires are hushed. Hurry on and remember me, as I'll remember you. Far above the golden clouds, the darkness vibrates.
    The earth is blue.
    And everything about it is a love song. Everything about it.
    • "Everything About It Is a Love Song"
Who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?
  • It's outrageous to line your pockets off the misery of the poor. Outrageous, the crimes some human beings must endure. It's a blessing to wash your face in the summer solstice rain. It's outrageous a man like me stand here and complain. But I'm tired.
    • "Outrageous"
  • Who's gonna love you when your looks are gone? Tell me, who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?
    • "Outrageous"
God will. Like he waters the flowers on your window sill.
  • God will. Like he waters the flowers on your window sill. Take me. I'm an ordinary player in the key of C. And my will was broken by my pride and my vanity. Who's gonna love you when your looks are gone? God will. Like he waters the flowers on your window sill.
    • "Outrageous"
  • I registered to vote today. Felt like a fool. Had to do it anyway. Down at the high school.
    • "Sure Don't Feel Like Love"
  • Maybe I'm wrong again. Wrong again. I could be wrong again. I remember once in August 1993, I was wrong, and I could be wrong again. I remember one of my best friends turned enemy. So, I was wrong, and I could be wrong again.
    • "Sure Don't Feel Like Love"
  • It sure. Don't feel.
    Like love.
    • "Sure Don't Feel Like Love"
I'm trying to tap into some wisdom. Even a little drop will do...
  • Prayers offered in times of peace are silent conversations. Appeals for love, or love's release. In private invocations. But all that is changed now. Gone like a memory from the day before the fires. People hungry for the voice of God hear lunatics and liars. Wartime prayers. Wartime prayers in every language spoken. For every family scattered and broken.
    Because you cannot walk with the holy if you're just a halfway decent man. I don't pretend that I'm a mastermind with a genius marketing plan. I'm trying to tap into some wisdom. Even a little drop will do. I want to rid my heart of envy, and cleanse my soul of rage before I'm through.
    • "Wartime Prayers"
  • Snowman sittin' in the sun doesn't have time to waste.
    • "Beautiful"
You'd better keep an eye on them children, eye on them children in the pool.
  • Little kid dancin' in the grass, legs like rubber band. It's summertime, summertime. There's a line at the candy stand. Keep an eye on them children, eye on them children in the pool. You'd better keep an eye on them children, eye on them children in the pool.
    • "Beautiful"
  • "The universe loves a drama," you know. And ladies and gentlemen this is the show.
    • " I Don't Believe" — Simon here quotes a comment by his wife, Edie Brickell, on the 2004 US presidential election.
  • I got a call from my broker. The broker informed me I'm broke. I was dealing my last hand of poker. My cards were useless as smoke.
    • " I Don't Believe"
Maybe the heart is part of the mist.
And that's all that there is or could ever exist.
  • Maybe the heart is part of the mist.
    And that's all that there is or could ever exist.

    Maybe and maybe and maybe some more.
    Maybe's the exit that I'm looking for.
    • " I Don't Believe"
  • There is a moment, a chip in time, when leaving home is the lesser crime.
    When your eyes are blind with tears, but your heart can see: another life, another galaxy.
    • "Another Galaxy" on Surprise (2006)
  • Once upon a time there was an ocean. But now it's a mountain range. Something unstoppable put into motion. Nothing is different, but everything's changed.
    • "Once Upon a Time There Was an Ocean"
Nothing is different, but everything's changed...
  • I'm easy, I'm open — that's my gift. I can flow with the traffic, I can drift with the drift.
    • "Once Upon a Time There Was an Ocean"
  • The light through the stained glass was cobalt and red. And the frayed cuffs and collars were mended by haloes of golden thread. The choir sang, "Once Upon a Time There Was An Ocean." And all the old hymns and family names came fluttering down as leaves of emotion.
    As nothing is different, but everything's changed.
    • "Once Upon a Time There Was an Ocean"
  • Well I'll just skip the boring parts chapters one, two, three and get to the place where you can read my face and my biography.
    • "That's Me"
Trust your intuition ... you don't need to waste your time worrying about the marketplace, try to help the human race...
  • Well I never cared much for money, and money never cared for me. I was more like a land-locked sailor, searching for the emerald sea.
    • "That's Me"
  • I am walking up the face of the mountain. Counting every step I climb. Remembering the names of the constellations. Forgotten is a long, long time.
    • "That's Me"
  • I'm gonna watch you shine, gonna watch you grow. Gonna paint a sign so you'll always know. As long as one and one is two.
    There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you.
    • "Father and Daughter"
  • Trust your intuition. It's just like goin' fishin'. You cast your line and hope you get a bite.
    But you don't need to waste your time worrying about the marketplace, try to help the human race. Struggling to survive its harshest night.
    • "Father and Daughter"

External links

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