Simon, Paul

Simon, Paul, 1941–, American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, b. Newark, N.J. A polished and intelligent folk-rock lyricist and performer, he first gained fame as half of Simon and Garfunkel (with Art Garfunkel, 1942–). The vocal and instrumental twosome, with their close harmonies and folk-inflected lyrics and melodies, were extremely successful in the second half of the 1960s. Among their hits were The Sound of Silence, Scarborough Fair, Homeward Bound and Mrs. Robinson. Not long after their highly successful album Bridge over Troubled Water (1970) and single of the same name, Simon chose to pursue a solo career, releasing the album Paul Simon in 1972.

In his solo work, Simon has used a startling variety of national and international styles, mingling them with an idiosyncratic and highly personal content. His folk-inflected and often introspective songs of the 1970s are typified by those on Still Crazy after All These Years (1975). He broadened his themes in Graceland (1986), one of the most popular albums of the decade, which featured several African musicians, including the South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo . His next album, The Rhythm of the Saints (1990), explored Afro-Brazilian music. After the failure of his Latin-themed Broadway musical The Capeman (1997, written with Derek Walcott ), Simon toured (1999) with Bob Dylan . Later albums are You're the One (2000), Surprise (2006), So Beautiful So What (2011), and Stranger to Stranger (2016).

See biographies by P. Humphries (1989), M. Eliot (2010), and P. A. Carlin (2016); M. S. Cohen, Simon and Garfunkel (1977) and V. Kingston, Simon and Garfunkel: The Biography (1998); S. Luftig, ed. Paul Simon Companion: Four Decades of Commentary (1997); S. Steinberg, dir., American Masters, Paul Simon (documentary, 1993).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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