Paul Simon

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Still crazy after all these years...

Paul Frederic Simon (born 13 October 1941) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, half of the folk-singing duo Simon and Garfunkel who continues a successful solo career. He is the husband of Edie Brickell, whom he married in 1992. In 2006, Time Magazine called him one of the "100 people who shape our world."

Quotes[edit]

They're all pictures of me when I wrote them. … I have no favorite songs.
I change the key, and somehow it's fresh because you haven't heard those notes before.
I write from instinct, from inexplicable sparkle. … I wait till I come across a pleasing accident. Then I start to develop it.
We have to be able to expand the vocabulary to express more complex thoughts...
  • And the war rages on in a land called somewhere
    And Generals order their men to kill
    And to fight for a cause they've long ago forgotten
    While a little cloud weeps on the side of a hill.
  • I wanted to sing other types of songs that Simon and Garfunkel wouldn't do. "Mother and Child Reunion" for example, is not a song that you would have normally thought that Simon and Garfunkel would have done. It's possible that they might have. But it wouldn't have been the same, and I don't know if I would have been so inclined in that direction. So for me it was a chance to break out and gamble a little bit … The breakup had to do with a natural drifting apart as we got older and the separate lives that were more individual. We weren't so consumed with recording and performing. We had other activities … there was no great pressure to stay together other than money, which exerted very little influence upon us. … We didn't need the money.
    • On the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel as a musical team. Interview with Jon Landau for Rolling Stone (1972); republished in The Rolling Stone Interviews: 1967-1980 (1989) edited by Peter Herbst, p. 210
  • There was always some kind of strain, but it was workable. The bigger you get, the more of a strain it is, because in your everyday life, you're less used to compromising. As you get bigger, you have your own way. But in a partnership you always have to compromise. … When you get into a partnership, you're not the boss. There's no boss. That makes it hard.
    • Interview with Jon Landau for Rolling Stone (1972); republished in The Rolling Stone Interviews: 1967-1980 (1989) edited by Peter Herbst, p. 211
  • Instead of thinking in terms of chords, I think of voice-leading; that is, melody line and bass line, and where the bass line goes. If you do that, you'll have the right chord. [These voices] will give you some alternatives, and you can play those different alternatives to hear which one suits your ear... Keep the bass line moving so you don't stay in one spot: if you have an interesting bass line and you roll it against the melody, the chords are going to come out right.
    • As quoted in "Paul Simon's Workshop at the Guitar Study Center" by Richard Albero and Fred Styles in Guitar Player (April 1975), p. 20
  • I didn't want to repeat the same notes in the second verse that I used in the first, so I wrote out all the notes of the song and all the notes that were missing in the scale, given that there are twelve notes from octave to octave. All those notes that weren't in the scale were the ones I wanted in for the next verse. The listener isn't aware that they are new notes, but the sound is pleasing to the ear. I change the key, and somehow it's fresh because you haven't heard those notes before.
    • As quoted in "Paul Simon's Workshop at the Guitar Study Center" by Richard Albero and Fred Styles in Guitar Player (April 1975), p. 21
  • Well its great to do a neighborhood concert. I hope everyone can hear us. I hope that the sound is good. I hope we are blasting Central Park West and Fifth avenue pretty much away. I just want to thank the police department and the fire department and the parks commissioner, and Ed Koch [Audience boos] — and particularly, you know, people that never get recognized for doing good things for the city, a group of people that have donated half of the proceeds that they're making tonight — the guys who are selling loose joints are giving the city half of their income tonight.
  • I have gone through different phases in my music writing. There was a time when I used a little exercise — incorporating all of the twelve notes in the chromatic scale — to get me going. I used this technique for a while, but I don't any longer because I am going back to simpler melodies. Originally I moved away from the simple songs because I thought they were too simple.
    • "Songwriting" in Making Music (1983) edited by George Martin, p. 70
  • I write from instinct, from inexplicable sparkle. I don't know why I'm writing what I'm writing. Usually, I sit and I let my hands wander on my guitar. And I sing anything. I play anything. And I wait till I come across a pleasing accident. Then I start to develop it. Once you take a piece of musical information, there are certain implications that it automatically contains — the implication of that phrase elongated, contracted, or inverted or in another time signature. So you start with an impulse and go to what your ear likes.
    • Interview with Tony Schwartz in Playboy (February 1984) p. 166
  • [Rock 'n' roll] really is not given to thinking — and resents thinking. Which I believe is the big error of rock 'n' roll. It's always aspired to be the music of the working class. And it's never been looked upon as a vocabulary for art and artistic thinking... We have to be able to expand the vocabulary to express more complex thoughts.
    • Interview in Musician (March 1984), p. 66-68

Song lyrics[edit]

God only knows
God makes his plan
The information's unavailable
To the mortal man.
  • Slip slidin' away
    Slip slidin' away.

    You know the nearer your destination
    The more you're slip slidin' away.
    • Slip Slidin' Away
  • God only knows
    God makes his plan
    The information's unavailable
    To the mortal man.

    We work our jobs
    Collect our pay
    Believe we're gliding down the highway
    When in fact we're slip slidin' away.
    • Slip Slidin' Away

Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (1964)[edit]

Hello darkness, my old friend I've come to talk with you again...
In the naked light I saw ten thousand people maybe more — people talking without speaking — people hearing without listening...
And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made...
  • And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people maybe more
    People talking without speaking
    People hearing without listening

    People writing songs that voices never shared
    No one dared
    Disturb the sound of silence.
    • The Sound of Silence
  • "Fools," said I, "you do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows

    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you"
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence.
    • The Sound of Silence
  • And the people bowed and prayed
    To the neon god they made

    And the sign flashed out its warning
    In the words that it was forming
    And the sign said "The words of the prophets
    Are written on the subway walls
    And tenement halls
    And whispered in the sound of silence"
    • The Sound of Silence

Sounds of Silence (1966)[edit]

I am a rock. I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.
  • A winter's day
    In a deep and dark
    December;
    I am alone,
    Gazing from my window to the streets below
    On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
    I am a rock,
    I am an island.
  • I’ve built walls,
    A fortress deep and mighty,
    That none may penetrate.
    I have no need of friendship;
    friendship causes pain.
    It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
    • I Am a Rock
  • I am shielded in my armor
    Hiding in my room safe within my womb
    I touch no one and no one touches me.
    I am a rock.
    I am an island.
    And a rock feels no pain.
    And an island never cries.
    • I Am a Rock

Parsley (1966)[edit]

  • I'm sitting in the railway station.
    Got a ticket to my destination.
    On a tour of one-night stands my suitcase and guitar in hand.
    And ev'ry stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one-man band.
  • Home where my thought's escaping,
    Home where my music's playing,
    Home where my love lies waiting
    Silently for me.
    • Homeward Bound
  • Tonight I'll sing my songs again,
    I'll play the game and pretend.
    But all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity
    Like emptiness in harmony I need someone to comfort me.
  • Slow down, you move too fast.
    You got to make the morning last.
    Just kicking down the cobblestones.
    Looking for fun and Feelin' Groovy.

Bookends (1968)[edit]

Orangutans are skeptical of changes in their cages...
  • Let us be lovers we'll marry our fortunes together.
    I've got some real estate here in my bag.
    So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner's pies,
    And we walked off to look for America
  • Laughing on the bus, playing games with the faces,
    She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy,
    I said, 'Be careful, his bowtie is really a camera.'
    • America
  • Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you.
    • Bookends
  • And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson,
    Jesus loves you more than you will know.
    Whoa, whoa, whoa
    God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson,
    Heaven holds a place for those who pray.
    Hey hey hey, hey hey hey.
  • Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
    A nation turns it's lonely eyes to you
    Ooo ooo ooo.
    What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
    "Joltin' Joe has left and gone away."
    Hey hey hey, hey hey hey.
    • Mrs. Robinson
  • Time, time, time, see what's become of me,
    While I looked around for my possibilities,
    I was so hard to please,
    But look around, the leaves are brown,
    And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.
  • Hang on to your hopes, my friend.
    That's an easy thing to say,
    But if your hopes should pass away
    Simply pretend that you can build them again.
    • A Hazy Shade of Winter
  • Seasons change with the scenery;
    Weaving time in a tapestry.
    Won't you stop and remember me
    At any convenient time?
    • A Hazy Shade of Winter
  • The monkeys stand for honesty,
    Giraffes are insincere,
    And the elephants are kindly but
    They're dumb.
    Orangutans are skeptical
    Of changes in their cages,
    And the zookeeper is very fond of rum.
    • At The Zoo
  • Zebras are reactionaries,
    Antelopes are missionaries,
    Pigeons plot in secrecy,
    And hamsters turn on frequently.
    • At The Zoo

Bridge over Troubled Water (1970)[edit]

When times get rough and friends just can't be found … like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down...
I get all the news I need from the weather report.
  • When you're weary
    Feeling small
    When tears are in your eyes
    I will dry them all
    I'm on your side
    When times get rough
    And friends just can't be found
    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will lay me down.
  • I'll take your part
    When darkness comes
    And pain is all around.
    • Bridge over Troubled Water
  • Sail on Silver Girl,
    Sail on by
    Your time has come to shine
    All your dreams are on their way
    See how they shine
    If you need a friend
    I'm sailing right behind...
    • Bridge over Troubled Water
  • I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail
    Yes I would, if I could, I surely would
    I'd rather be a hammer than a nail
    Yes I would, if I only could, I surely would
  • Cecilia, you're breaking my heart
    You're shaking my confidence daily
    Oh, Cecilia, I'm down on my knees
    I'm begging you please to come home.
  • In the clearing stands a boxer
    And a fighter by his trade
    And he carries the reminders
    Of ev'ry glove that laid him down
    Or cut him till he cried out
    In his anger and his shame
    "I am leaving, I am leaving."
    But the fighter still remains.

Paul Simon (1972)[edit]

No I would not give you false hope
On this strange and mournful day
But the mother and child reunion
Is only a motion away...
I'm on my way, I don't know where I'm goin',
I'm on my way, I'm takin' my time, but I don't know where...
  • No I would not give you false hope
    On this strange and mournful day
    But the mother and child reunion
    Is only a motion away
    ,
    Oh, little darling of mine
    I can't for the life of me
    Remember a sadder day
    I know they say let it be
    But it just don't work out that way...
  • When the papa found out, he began to shout, and he started the investigation
    It's against the law, it was against the law
    What the mama saw, it was against the law.
  • I'm on my way, I don't know where I'm goin',
    I'm on my way, I'm takin' my time, but I don't know where.

    Goodbye to Rosie, the Queen of Corona
    See you, me and Julio down by the schoolyard.
    • Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

There Goes Rhymin' Simon (1973)[edit]

  • When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school,
    It's a wonder I can think at all,
    And though my lack of education hasn't hurt me none,
    I can read the writing on the wall.
  • Kodachrome,
    They give us those nice bright colours,
    Give us the greens of summers,
    Makes you think all the world's a sunny day,
    Oh, yeah, I got a Nikon camera,
    I love to take a photograph,
    So Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away.
  • Come on, take me to the Mardi Gras,
    Where the people sing and play,
    Where the music is elite and there's dancing in the street,
    Both night and day.
    • Take Me To The Mardi Gras
  • When I was a little boy, (when I was just a boy)
    And the devil would call my name (when I was just a boy)
    I'd say "now who do,
    Who do you think you're fooling?"

Still Crazy After All These Years (1975)[edit]

She said, why don't we both just sleep on it tonight
And I believe, in the morning you'll begin to see the light...
  • I met my old lover on the street last night,
    She seemed so glad to see me, I just smiled,
    And we talked about some old times, and we drank ourselves some beers,
    Still crazy after all these years,
    Oh, still crazy after all these years.
    • Still Crazy After All These Years
  • I fear I’ll do some damage
    One fine day
    But I would not be convicted
    By a jury of my peers
    Still crazy
    Still crazy
    Still crazy after all these years.
    • Still Crazy After All These Years
  • The problem is all inside your head, she said to me
    The answer is easy if you take it logically
    I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free
    There must be fifty ways to leave your lover.
  • Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan
    Don't need to be coy, Roy, just listen to me
    Hop on the bus, Gus, don't need to discuss much
    Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free.
    • 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
  • She said, why don't we both just sleep on it tonight
    And I believe, in the morning you'll begin to see the light

    And then she kissed me and I realized she probably was right
    There must be fifty ways to leave your lover, fifty ways to leave your lover
    • 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

One-Trick Pony (1980)[edit]

  • Then I learned to play some lead guitar, I was underage in this funky bar
    And I stepped outside to smoke myself a j
    When I came back to the room, everybody just seemed to move
    And I turned my amp up loud and I began to play.
    • Late in the Evening
  • First thing I remember when you came into my life
    I said I wanna get that girl, no matter what I do
    Well I guess I've been in love before and once or twice have been on the floor
    But I've never loved no-one the way that I love you.
    • Late in the Evening

Hearts and Bones (1983)[edit]

  • One and one half wandering Jews,
    Free to wander wherever they choose,
    Are travelling together in the Sangre de Christo,
    The blood of Christ mountains of New Mexico,
    On the last leg of a journey they started a long time ago,
    The arc of a love affair,
    Rainbows in the high desert air.
    • Hearts and Bones
  • Mountain passes slipping into stones,
    Hearts and bones.
    • Hearts and Bones
  • Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
    Everybody thinks its true.
    • Train In The Distance
  • Two disappointed believers
    Two people playing the game
    Negotiations and love songs
    Are often mistaken for one and the same.
    • Train In The Distance
  • And what is the point of this story?
    What information pertains?
    The thought that life could be better
    Is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains.
    • Train In The Distance

Graceland (1986)[edit]

These are the days of miracle and wonder,
This is the long distance call… These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don't cry, baby, don't cry, don't cry.
I want a shot at redemption Don’t want to end up a cartoon In a cartoon graveyard...
There were incidents and accidents there were hints and allegations...
  • These are the days of miracle and wonder,
    This is the long distance call
    ,
    The way the camera follows us in slo-mo,
    The way we look to us all,
    The way we look to a distant constellation
    That's dying in a corner of the sky,
    These are the days of miracle and wonder
    And don't cry, baby, don't cry, don't cry.
    • The Boy In The Bubble
  • It's a turn-around jump-shot,
    It's everybody jump-start, it's,
    Every generation throws a hero up the pop-charts,
    Medicine is magical and magical is art,
    Think of the boy in the bubble and the baby with the baboon heart...
    • The Boy In The Bubble
  • The Mississippi Delta was shining like a National guitar,
    I am following the river down the highway
    Through the cradle of the Civil War.
  • I'm going to Graceland, Graceland,
    Memphis, Tennessee,
    Well, I'm going to Graceland.
    Poor boys and pilgrims with families
    And we are going to Graceland,
    And my travelling companion is nine years old,
    He is the child of my first marriage,
    But I've reason to believe
    We both will be received in Graceland.
    • Graceland
  • And she said 'Losing love is like a window in your heart,
    Everybody sees you're blown apart,
    Everybody feels the wind blow.'
    • Graceland
  • She said, 'Don't I know you from the cinematographer's party?'
    I said, 'Who am I to blow against the wind?'
    • I Know What I Know
  • She's a rich girl,
    She don't try to hide it,
    Diamonds on the soles of her shoes,
    He's a poor boy,
    Empty as a pocket,
    Empty as a pocket with nothing to lose,
    Sing ta-na-na, ta-na-na-na,
    She got diamonds on the soles of her shoes.
    • Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
  • A man walks down the street
    He says why am I soft in the middle now
    Why am I soft in the middle
    The rest of my life is so hard

    I need a photo opportunity
    I want a shot at redemption
    Don’t want to end up a cartoon
    In a cartoon graveyard.
  • If you’ll be my bodyguard
    I can be your long lost pal
    I can call you Betty
    And Betty when you call me
    You can call me Al.
    • You Can Call Me Al
  • A man walks down the street
    He says why am I short of attention
    Got a short little span of attention
    And woe my nights are so long
    • You Can Call Me Al
  • There were incidents and accidents
    There were hints and allegations...
    • You Can Call Me Al
  • A man walks down the street
    It’s a street in a strange world
    Maybe it’s the third world
    Maybe it’s his first time around …
    He looks around around
    He sees angels in the architecture
    Spinning in infinity
    He says Amen and Hallelujah.
    • You Can Call Me Al
  • Homeless, homeless,
    Moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake.
    • Homeless

The Rhythm of the Saints (1990)[edit]

  • Well I'm accustomed to a smooth ride,
    Or maybe I'm a dog that's lost its bite,
    I don't expect to be treated like a fool, no, no,
    I don't expect to sleep long nights,
    Some people say a lie is just a lie but I say,
    Why deny the obvious child?
  • Sonny sits by his window and thinks to himself,
    How it's strange that some rooms are like cages,
    Sonny's yearbook from high school is down from the shelf,
    And he idly thumbs through the pages,
    Some have died, some have fled from themselves,
    On a struggle from here to get there,
    Sonny wanders beyond his interior walls,
    Runs his hands through his thinning brown hair.
  • Never been lonely,
    Never been lied to,
    Never had to scuffle in fear,
    Nothing to dive to,
    Born at the instant,
    The church bells chime,
    The whole world whispering,
    You're born at the right time.
    • Born at the Right Time
  • Moves like a fist through traffic,
    Anger and no-one can kill it,
    Shoves a little bump to the momentum,
    It's just a little lump but you feel it
    In the creases and the shadows,
    With a rattling deep emotion.
    The cool, cool river
    Sweeps the wild, wide ocean.

Surprise (2006)[edit]

Far above the golden clouds, the darkness vibrates...
The earth is blue. And everything about it is a love song.
Who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?
God will. Like He waters the flowers on your window sill.
I'm trying to tap into some wisdom. Even a little drop will do...
You'd better keep an eye on them children, eye on them children in the pool.
Maybe the heart is part of the mist.
And that's all that there is or could ever exist.
Nothing is different, but everything's changed...
Trust your intuition … you don't need to waste your time worrying about the marketplace, try to help the human race...
  • How can you live in the Northeast?
    How can you live in the South?

    How can you build on the banks of a river
    When the flood water pours from the mouth?

    How can you be a Christian?
    How can you be a Jew?
    How can you be a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu?
    How can you?

    • How Can You Live In The Northeast?
  • Locked in a struggle for the right combination
    Of words in a melody line,
    I took a walk along the riverbank of my imagination.
    Golden clouds were shuffling the sunshine.
    • Everything About It Is a Love Song
  • We don't mean to mess things up,
    But mess them up we do.

    And then it's "Oh, I'm sorry."
    Here's a smiling photograph
    Of love when it was new.
    At a birthday party.
    Make a wish and close your eyes:
    Surprise, surprise, surprise.
    • Everything About It Is a Love Song
  • I shoot a thought into the future, and it flies like an arrow, through my lifetime. And beyond.
    If I ever come back as a tree, or a crow, or even the wind-blown dust; find me on the ancient road in the song when the wires are hushed. Hurry on and remember me, as I'll remember you. Far above the golden clouds, the darkness vibrates.
    The earth is blue.
    And everything about it is a love song. Everything about it.
    • Everything About It Is a Love Song
  • It's outrageous to line your pockets off the misery of the poor.
    Outrageous, the crimes some human beings must endure.
    It's a blessing to wash your face in the summer solstice rain.
    It's outrageous a man like me stand here and complain.
    But I'm tired.
    • Outrageous
  • Take me. I'm an ordinary player in the key of C.
    And my will was broken by my pride and my vanity.
    Who's gonna love you when you're looks are gone?
    God will. Like he waters the flowers on your window sill.
    • Outrageous
  • Prayers offered in times of peace are silent conversations,
    Appeals for love, or love's release, in private invocations

    But all that is changed now.
    Gone like a memory from the day before the fires.
    People hungry for the voice of God
    Hear lunatics and liars.

    Wartime prayers. Wartime prayers
    In every language spoken.

    For every family scattered and broken.

    • Wartime Prayers
  • Because you cannot walk with the holy,
    If you're just a halfway decent man.
    But I don't pretend that I'm a mastermind
    With a genius marketing plan.

    I'm trying to tap into some wisdom,
    Even a little drop would do.
    I want to rid my heart of envy
    And cleanse my soul of rage
    Before I'm through.

    • Wartime Prayers
  • Snowman sittin' in the sun doesn't have time to waste.
    • Beautiful
  • Little kid dancin' in the grass, legs like rubber band.
    It's summertime, summertime. There's a line at the candy stand.
    Keep an eye on them children, eye on them children in the pool.
    You'd better keep an eye on them children, eye on them children in the pool.
    • Beautiful
  • "The universe loves a drama," you know. And ladies and gentlemen this is the show.
    • I Don't Believe; Simon here quotes a comment by his wife, Edie Brickell, on the 2004 US presidential election.
  • Maybe the heart is part of the mist.
    And that's all that there is or could ever exist.

    Maybe and maybe and maybe some more.
    Maybe's the exit that I'm looking for.
    • I Don't Believe
  • Once upon a time there was an ocean.
    But now it's a mountain range.
    Something unstoppable put into motion.
    Nothing is different, but everything's changed.
    • Once Upon a Time There Was an Ocean
  • The light through the stained glass was cobalt and red.
    And the frayed cuffs and collars were mended by halos of golden thread.
    The choir sang, "Once Upon a Time There Was An Ocean."
    And all the old hymns and family names came fluttering down as leaves of emotion.
    As nothing is different, but everything's changed.
    • Once Upon a Time There Was an Ocean
  • I am walking up the face of the mountain. Counting every step I climb. Remembering the names of the constellations. Forgotten is a long, long time.
    • "That's Me"
  • I'm gonna watch you shine, gonna watch you grow.
    Gonna paint a sign so you'll always know.
    As long as one and one is two.
    There could never be a father who loved
    His daughter more than I love you.
  • Trust your intuition.
    It's just like goin' fishin'.
    You cast your line and hope you get a bite.
    But you don't need to waste your time worrying about the marketplace,
    Try to help the human race.
    Struggling to survive its harshest hour.
    • Father and Daughter

External links[edit]

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