My all-time favourite lyricist is in town tonight and I can’t wait. About 10 years ago I saw Art Garfunkel solo, in 2009 I saw Simon and Garfunkel together but tonight will be the first time I’ve ever seen a solo Paul Simon show.
I say favourite lyricist because I don’t know of any other songwriter who has consistently been able to say so much with so few words, and with so much beauty. “Losing love is like a window in your heart, everybody sees you’re blown apart,” is one example which just popped into my head – a line from the title track to arguably Simon’s greatest achievement, the Graceland album from 1986.
Graceland is one of three of his albums to win an Album of the Year Grammy, a record for most wins in that category he shares with only two other performers, Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder. Wonder’s achievement is possibly the most remarkable because he won three out of four years in the 70s and for three consecutive albums. That feat of prolific creativity with equal commercial and critical success will almost certainly never be equalled (the albums in question being 1973’s Innervisions, 1974’s Fulfillingness First Finale and 1976’s Songs In The Key Of Life), but Paul Simon’s 16 year effort is only marginally less astounding.
As part of Simon and Garfunkel there was the Album of the Year Grammy for Bridge Over Troubled Water in 1970, 1975 saw him win for Still Crazy After All These Years in the year Stevie Wonder had a rest (something Simon joked about in his acceptance speech) and Graceland won in 1986. It is not unprecedented for an artist to have a more confined golden patch, but with a trio of Album of the Year wins stretching 16 years and including songs as rich and varied as all three title tracks, Paul Simon’s longevity puts him in the absolute elite.
Here he is with his old mate Artie on the song Pam Corkery and I ended our show with last night. Written about his feelings of isolation when Garfunkel was away shooting a film “down in Mexico,” The Only Living Boy In New York, much like So Long Frank Lloyd Wright was really Simon’s way of saying goodbye not just to Garfunkel, but to Simon and Garfunkel. From Bridge Over Troubled Water, enjoy: