One of things my brother and I talk about, a lot, is music. We talk about individual songs, musicians, bands, and songwriters. Anything and everything;
One of the discussions we had not long ago was “Who is the greatest American Pop songwriter?” He popped this question on me while we were painting my living room, so neither of us were going anywhere soon. As qualifiers, this person had to have longevity, numerous hits, and also had to be a performer. He also threw a curve saying “You’ll never guess who I think it is.” I had to think this over.
Some names came to mind immediately; Stephen Stills, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Carole King, Brian Wilson. We threw around some other names, but they didn’t have the longevity factor; Dan Fogelberg and Jim Croce, even Buddy Holly. The list went on for some time. My choice was Bob Dylan.
Finally I had to ask who is choice was. “Simple” he says, “Paul Simon”. And he was right; that name never came to mind. But why not? He has written so many great songs.
Paul Frederic Simon (born October 13, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter and actor. Simon’s musical career has spanned seven decades with his fame and commercial success beginning as half of the duo Simon & Garfunkel (originally known as Tom & Jerry), formed in 1956 with Art Garfunkel. Simon was responsible for writing nearly all of the pair’s songs including three that reached number one on the U.S. singles charts: “The Sound of Silence“, “Mrs. Robinson“, and “Bridge over Troubled Water“.
The duo split up in 1970 at the height of their popularity, and Simon began a successful solo career, recording three acclaimed albums over the next five years. In 1986, he released Graceland, an album inspired by South African township music, which sold 14 million copies worldwide on its release and remains his most popular solo work. Simon also wrote and starred in the film One-Trick Pony (1980) and co-wrote the Broadway musical The Capeman (1998) with the poet Derek Walcott. On June 3, 2016, Simon released his 13th solo album, Stranger to Stranger, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Album Chart and the UK charts.
Simon has earned sixteen Grammys for his solo and collaborative work, including three for Album of the Year (Bridge Over Troubled Water, Still Crazy After All These Years, and Graceland), and a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2001, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2006 was selected as one of the “100 People Who Shaped the World” by Time. In 2011, Rolling Stone named Simon one of the 100 greatest guitarists. In 2015, he was named one of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time by Rolling Stone. Among many other honors, Simon was the first recipient of the Library of Congress‘s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2007. In 1986, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, where he currently serves on the Board of Trusteeshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Simon
We both agreed on our favorite songwriter, but he’s not American. And that will be the subject of tomorrow’s post. (Hint: His birthday is tomorrow.)
I will leave you with this video of Paul. It’s not his biggest hit, but I love the story it weaves. Enjoy! And I’m still holding out for Dylan…