Paul Simon is one of America´s most prolific and important singer songwriters of the past 40 years, we take a look at 5 iconic performances through the years for this talented and beloved man.
It seems like Paul Simon with his “boy next door” pose and style could be not only your neighbor, but a friend you hang out with, have some beers with, talk about baseball with (everyone knows he is a New York Yankees Fan). He has this ordinary Joe characteristic and seems to grounded, humble and down to earth that it is easy to forget that the man has won 12 Grammys, is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and has been chosen by TIME magazine as on of the 100 people who have shaped the world. Paul Simon is an American musician, actor and singer – songwriter born in October 13th, 1941 in Newark, New Jersey. His father was a college professor, a bass player and a dance bandleader and his mother was an elementary school teacher.
Sesame Street: Paul Simon Sings Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard
This performance was shown on season 8 of Sesame street in 1971.
He met Art Garfunkel (a man who has FUNK in the middle of his last name although that is the only thing funky about him) when they were both 11 years old. The formed the duo “Simon and Garfunkel” in 1964 bringing us great songs (I am a fan, so recommend the entire discography ) and 3 No. 1 songs: like “The Sound of Silence”, “Bridge Over Trouble Water” and “Mrs. Robinson”. This last one is probably their most famous song and of course is imprinted in a whole generation as the soundtrack to the movie The Graduate, a movie that would be Dustin Hoffman+s breakthrough performance. The duo are part of American music history, and gave us wonderful harmonies and memories, such as the concert that took place in Central Park in 1981 and the second iconic moment
Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs Robinson (Live in New York 1981)
Sadly, the Duo broke up in 1970 and it is still a sour breakup, as evidenced by the article in the Telegraph published just 6 days ago. Art: breathe in love, breathe out love and let it go man, let it go.
Although some people in the eighties were not kind to Simon (especially regarding his controversial album Graceland which, lets be honest, deserves a post of its own) the man thankfully went on to have a successful solo career. The story of Graceland even has a its own documentary. Nothing better to get Simon out of a depression after having some albums flop and getting a divorce (to Carrie Fisher, A.K.A Princess Leia) than African music. He was fascinated by the music style. He released an album which mixed all types of music and musicians. Yes, the man stood up to the Apartheid in South Africa and recorded it with black and white musicians. Yes. One more reason why I used the word beloved in this article. I love this man. The 3 iconic moment is from this legendary concert in Zimbabwe
Paul Simon – Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes – Live in Zimbabwe
The second song released from Graceland is a song that I grew up with and it takes me back to a happy place. I think it does that for many people, it takes us back to a place of innocence and Saturday Night Live and that is probably because I was too young to know about the over the top hedonistic culture back stage in the show, and what would later happen to those first cast members, to me it was, and still is, a perfect pop song that brings together important characters of the 80´s.
you can call me Al – central park 1991 – Paul Simon and Chevy Chase
But not everything is light heartened and cheerful in this post. For me, Simon+s most impressive and unelectable performance took place on the 10th year anniversary of 9/11. There are certain public figures that make you think of New York. Frank Sinatra because of his interpretation of his song, Woody Allen because his movies are a love story with the city, Dudley Moore with his portayal of Arthur The millionaire, David Letterman (who also comes to mind since he just retired) and many other figures. Like the, Paul Simon has been a New York artist. Being a Yankees fan, his massive free concerts in Central Park have made his name and the city a common associate in the collective mind. It was Simon the first musical guest to participate in Saturday Night Live´s first episode after September 11th, 2001. I could not find the footage of him performing The Boxer with the firefighters of the city standing behind him but it was so sad and touching…
Paul Simon – The Sound of Silence 9/11 Ground Zero
On September 11th, 2011 Paul Simon played the perfect song at the perfect time with the perfect solemnity and vulnerability. Every time I watch this I cry. Even now as I write this post. I remember I saw it live and it was like the lyrics of this song written so many decades ago were written specifically for this event. I can not think of anyone else who could what he did. He is such a part of American Pop Culture in the last decades, and such a nice, grounded and authentic character that this is not only one of his 5 iconic performances, it is one of the performances of any artist that i will never, ever forget. It gives me chills. I think his voice and his eyes and specially his guitar express the shock, sadness and the feeling of an entire city, nation, world and generations who witnessed and lived through that moment. But at the same time, he managed to make it not about him. I think this performance not only shows the musician, songwriter and artist, but also the human and also divine soul that he is.