15 Jul Paul Simon Songwriting Legend
Paul Simon – Still Writing After All These Years
Few people have spent as many years writing songs like Paul Simon, who announced that he was finally going to retire after more than 60 years of making world-renowned music. That remains to be seen. Even after wrapping up his farewell tour, Paul released another new album, In the Blue Light, a collection of 10 songs from throughout his career that he always wanted to revisit. The 10 songs he chose for the project are arranged in new ways so he can make his meaning clearer. As someone whose musical style has changed and adapted over time, it is not surprising that he created this album with the help of jazz and classical musicians.
The Story of In The Blue Light Album
Songwriters Hall of Fame
Paul Simon’s list of accomplishments is impressive, to say the least. He’s won multiple Grammys, including three for Album of the Year. In addition, he’s won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, has four gold singles to his name and 24 Hot 100 hits throughout his career.
Most people associate Paul Simon with his collaborator, Art Garfunkel. As Simon and Garfunkel, the duo wrote, arranged, and produced songs which are considered standards in the classic and folk rock genre. Everyone knows the masterpieces “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Sounds of Silence,” which re-create feelings of longing and nostalgia, even decades after their creation.
Simon and Garfunkel – Sounds of Silence
Paul Simon went on to become a solo artist in 1971 and never looked back. Although his work with Simon and Garfunkel was brilliant, working with a partner as part of a duo was holding him back from what he was truly capable of. Paul used his skills and abilities as a singer-songwriter to go off in many surprising directions, and combined styles from jazz, reggae, rock and Latin music in new and surprising ways.
Surprising and Diverse Projects
In 1986, Paul worked with South African musicians to create his “Township Jive” songs, and in 1991, he released his Rhythm of the Saints, which was a production of his collaboration with Brazilian musicians. By working with musicians from around the world, Paul built bridges, showed an understanding of other cultures and people, and gave the world the kinds of works it had never seen before.
Paul Simon is a proud New Yorker, so it isn’t totally surprising that he was interested in Broadway shows. It is surprising that after his works in folk rock and international music he went on to produce a Broadway musical, “The Capeman,” a collaboration with Derek Walcott based on the life of a convicted murderer. While not commercially successful, the production was nominated for multiple Tony Awards and one of the performers won the Theater World Award for her performance. The show was unique, with Simon’s unique music backed up by Latin musicians. It again shows Paul’s ability to try new genres and push the boundaries of his talents and imagination.
Many people consider Paul Simon to be one of the greatest songwriters ever and although his lyrics are critically acclaimed, Paul admits he spends more time writing the music. Someone preparing for a songwriting contest could use his experience to see how liberating it can be to write for yourself and not worry about the current trends. He may not have entered a songwriting competition, but he did work hard to share his ideas and dreams and connect to his listeners.
What Does the Future Hold?
Even though he said he was done writing music, a creative powerhouse like Paul Simon would have a hard time not writing or performing anymore. Music is a part of his life, and his habits have come after almost a century of creativity. According to his website, Paul planned short sets at the David Cone Foundation Fundraiser in New York for June of 2019, which commemorates David Cone’s perfect game 20 years ago and supports organizations like the ALS Association of New York and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He also performed at the Outside Lands Festival To Benefit San Francisco Parks Alliance & Friends of the Urban Forest.
Not everyone can be as prolific as Paul Simon, spending most of a century of great songwriting, but you can make a commitment to writing songs and pushing yourself to experiment with new arrangements, genres, and styles. Take some risks. Even songs that inevitably fail to convey the message you want can still be important lessons and steps towards growing into the artist you want to be and developing your own unique sound.
Some lessons we can learn from Paul Simon
- Don’t be afraid to experiment or incorporate different genres of music into your writing.
- Go back into your catalog and re-work some of your songs or try different arrangements.
- Don’t limit yourself and your style – say yes to different projects and collaborations.
- Have fun with your music and enjoy the process.
- Experiment with your sound and your style and always be evolving.
- Keep writing.
To hear some great songwriting tips and be inspired by some of Nashville’s top writers, go to Music City SongStar and check out the Foxhedge Sessions!
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About us: Foxhedge Music is a management company and recording studio located in historic Leiper’s Fork. Our mission is to support and encourage songwriters. We believe they are the backbeat of Music City, while we continue to invest our time and resources in the Music City community. Through the Music City SongStar Songwriting Contest, we want to give songwriters a chance to have their music heard. We’re believers in creativity, chasing dreams and getting the chance to pursue your passion.