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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Finding words for the puzzle

“I suppose an artist takes the elements of his life and rearranges them and then has them perceived by others as though they were the elements of their lives. – Paul Simon

This year Simon added the latest in a long list of honors and awards to his resume’ when he was named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the 100 greatest musicians who ever lived.  That came on the heels of being named one of the 100 greatest songwriters and as the first recipient of the Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. 

But, of course, those awards pale in comparison to Time Magazine’s naming him one of the “100 People Who Shaped The World.”   Not too bad for the son of immigrant parents who grew up playing stickball in the New York streets.  While most people believe he started his musical career in the early 1960s, his musical life really began in 1952 at age 11 when he and neighbor Art Garfunkel first performed together.  By age 12 they had “a neighborhood hit” with his song “The Girl for Me” (perhaps the only song by an 11-year-old enshrined in the Library of Congress).

That led to hundreds of songs – among them multiple Grammy Award winners and mega-hits like “Sounds of Silence,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme,” “Homeward Bound,” and, of course, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”    He also wrote a number of hit songs for other artists, like “Red Rubber Ball” for the Cyrcle and “Someday One Day” for The Seekers.

Simon’s poignant written words accompany some of the most memorable music ever written.  His are the words of our times and places and will resonate with us for generations to come.   He told an interviewer that writing the right words is “…like a puzzle … to express what the music is saying.” 

To pick just a couple Simon songs would be like trying to select two from a sweeping display case of the world’s best candies.  So, here are links to two – one with Garfunkel and one from his solo years – as tasty “starter” treats – “My Little Town;” and “Still Crazy After All These Years.”    Enjoy. 

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