The Talented Paul Simon Part Five
In February 2014, Simon embarked on a joint concert tour titled On Stage Together with English musician Sting, playing 21 concerts in North America. The tour continued in early 2015, with ten shows in Australia and New Zealand, and 23 concerts in Europe, ending on 18 April 2015.
On August 4, 2015, Simon performed “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”, “Homeward Bound”, and “Late in the Evening” alongside Billy Joel at the final concert of Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, New York. On September 11, 2015, Simon appeared during the premiere week of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Simon, who performed “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” with Colbert for his surprise appearance, had been promoted prior to the show as “Simon and Garfunkel tribute band Troubled Waters.” Simon’s additional performance of “An American Tune” was posted as a bonus on the show’s YouTube channel.
Simon also wrote and performed the theme song for the comedian Louis C.K.’s show Horace and Pete, which debuted January 30, 2016. The song, which can be heard during the show’s opening, intermission, and closing credits, is sparse, featuring only Simon’s voice and an acoustic guitar. Simon made a cameo appearance onscreen in the tenth and final episode of the series.
On June 3, 2016 Simon released his thirteenth solo studio album, Stranger to Stranger via Concord Records. He began writing new material shortly after releasing his twelfth studio album, So Beautiful or So What, in April 2011. Simon collaborated with the Italian electronic dance music artist Clap! Clap! on three songs—”The Werewolf”, “Street Angel”, and “Wristband”. Simon was introduced to him by his son, Adrian, who was a fan of his work. The two met up in July 2011 when Simon was touring behind So Beautiful or So What in Milan, Italy. He and Clap! Clap! worked together via email over the course of making the album. Simon also worked with longtime friend Roy Halee, who is listed as co-producer on the album. “I always liked working with him more than anyone else,” Simon noted. Following the release of the album, Simon noted that “showbiz doesn’t hold any interest for me” and discussed future retirement as “I am going to see what happens if I let go”.
On July 25, 2016, he performed “Bridge over Troubled Water” at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. On May 24, 2017, he debuted “Questions for the Angels” with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
In an in-depth interview reprinted in American Songwriter, Simon discusses the craft of songwriting with music journalist Tom Moon. In the interview, Simon explains the basic themes in his songwriting: love, family, social commentary, etc., as well as the overarching messages of religion, spirituality, and God in his lyrics. Simon goes on in the interview to explain the process of how he goes about writing songs, “The music always precedes the words. The words often come from the sound of the music and eventually evolve into coherent thoughts. Or incoherent thoughts. Rhythm plays a crucial part in the lyric-making as well. It’s like a puzzle to find the right words to express what the music is saying.”
Awards and honors
Reverse of the 2007 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song medal awarded to Paul Simon
Simon has won 12 Grammy Awards (one of them a Lifetime Achievement Award) and five Album of the Year Grammy nominations, the most recent for You’re the One in 2001. He is one of only five artists to have won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year more than once as the main credited artist. In 1998 he was entered in the Grammy Hall of Fame for the Simon & Garfunkel album Bridge over Troubled Water. He received an Oscar nomination for the song “Father and Daughter” in 2002. He is also a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; as a solo artist in 2001, and in 1990 as half of Simon & Garfunkel.
In 2001, Simon was honored as MusiCares Person Of The Year. The following year, he was one of the five recipients of the annual Kennedy Center Honors, the nation’s highest tribute to performing and cultural artists. In 2005, Simon was saluted as a BMI Icon at the 53rd Annual BMI Pop Awards. Simon’s songwriting catalog has earned 39 BMI Awards including multiple citations for “Bridge over Troubled Water,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “Scarborough Fair” and “The Sound of Silence”. As of 2005, he has amassed nearly 75 million broadcast airplays, according to BMI surveys.
In 2006, Simon was selected by Time Magazine as one of the “100 People Who Shaped the World.”
In 2007, Simon received the first annual Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Named in honor of George and Ira Gershwin, this new award recognizes the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture. On being notified of the honor, Simon said, “I am grateful to be the recipient of the Gershwin Prize and doubly honored to be the first. I look forward to spending an evening in the company of artists I admire at the award ceremony in May. I can think of a few who have expressed my words and music far better than I. I’m excited at the prospect of that happening again. It’s a songwriter’s dream come true.” Among the performers who paid tribute to Simon were Stevie Wonder, Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, Lyle Lovett, James Taylor, Dianne Reeves, Marc Anthony, Yolanda Adams, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The event was professionally filmed and broadcast and is now available as Paul Simon and Friends.
In 2010, Simon received an honorary degree from Brandeis University, where he performed “The Boxer” at the main commencement ceremony.
In October 2011, Simon was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Science. At the induction ceremony, he performed “American Tune.”
In 2012, Simon was awarded the Polar Music Prize.
When Simon moved to England in 1964, he met Kathleen Mary “Kathy” Chitty (born 1947) on April 12, 1964, at the first English folk club he played, Railway Inn Folk Club in Brentwood, Essex, where Chitty worked part-time selling tickets. She was 17, he was 22, and they fell in love. Later that year they visited the U.S. together, touring around mainly by bus. Kathy returned to England on her own with Simon returning to her some weeks later. When Simon returned to the U.S. with the growing success of “The Sound of Silence”, Kathy, who was quite shy, wanted no part of the success and fame that awaited Simon and they split. She is mentioned by name in at least two of his songs: “Kathy’s Song” and “America,” and is referred to in “Homeward Bound” and “The Late Great Johnny Ace.” There is a photo of Simon and Kathy on the cover of The Paul Simon Songbook.
Simon has been married three times, first to Peggy Harper in late autumn 1969. They had a son Harper Simon in 1972 and divorced in 1975. The song “Train in the Distance,” from Simon’s 1983 album Hearts and Bones, is about this relationship. Simon’s 1972 song “Run That Body Down,” from his second solo album, casually mentions both himself and his then-wife (“Peg”) by name.
His second marriage, from 1983 to 1984, was to actress and author Carrie Fisher to whom he proposed after a New York Yankees game. The song “Hearts and Bones” was written about this relationship. The song “Graceland” is also thought to be about seeking solace from the end of this relationship by taking a road trip. A year after divorcing, Simon and Fisher resumed their relationship for several years.
His third wife is folk singer Edie Brickell, 24 years his junior, whom he married on May 30, 1992. They have three children: Adrian, Lulu, and Gabriel. On April 26, 2014, Simon and Brickell were arrested at their home in New Canaan, Connecticut for disorderly conduct following an argument between the couple. They were released the next day. Prosecutors ultimately decided not to pursue domestic violence charges against the couple.
Paul Simon and his younger brother, Eddie Simon, founded the Guitar Study Center in New York City. The Guitar Study Center later became part of The New School in N