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Friday, November 17, 2023

'Writing words to express what the music is saying'


“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

Simon, born in October of 1941, has been named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the 100 greatest musicians who ever lived.  That distinction followed his being named one of the 100 greatest songwriters, the first recipient of the Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, and Time Magazine’s naming him “100 People Who Shaped The World.”   Not too bad for the son of immigrant parents who grew up playing stickball in New York City streets.
Simon's musical career began 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” (the only song written by an 11-year-old to be enshrined in the Library of Congress).

That led to hundreds more songs – among them such multiple Grammy Award winners and mega-hits as “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.

Simon’s poignant written words accompany some of the most memorable music ever written.  His are the words of our times and places that 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.”

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