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.
Paul Simon (born October 13, 1941) is an American folk and rock musician known both for his initial career in the folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel
and his eclectic solo career, which has ranged from straightforward pop, rock and folk to world music explorations.
Simon first got together with Art Garfunkel
in 1957 under the name "Tom and Jerry", but the partnership only became permanent with the success of their 1964 Signature Song
"The Sounds of Silence". The duo released a string of critically acclaimed albums and became famous for their close harmonies and Simon's alternately surreal, poetic and humorous lyrics, before calling it a day in 1970.
Simon quickly moved on to a solo career, releasing the eponymous Paul Simon
in 1972. For the rest of The Seventies
, Simon pursued a jazz-pop sound with occasional elements from other genres such as gospel ("Loves Me Like a Rock") and reggae ("Mother and Child Reunion"). While his first three albums were greeted warmly by the record-buying public and critics, he went on a hiatus after 1976, dabbling with acting for a while. His supposed "comeback" records between 1980-1986 saw him abandoning his jazzy sound in favour of more experimentation and sold poorly.
However, Simon rebounded with his Magnum Opus
(1985). Recorded in South Africa
with a cast of talented African musicians and containing a fusion of Western pop-rock and folk music with African genres such as isicathamiya and mbaqanga, the album was released in 1986 to a wildly positive response despite criticism of Simon for recording in South Africa at the height of Apartheid
. The album re-established Simon as a successful artist and became an enduring benchmark by which "world music" experiments by other pop artists are measured.
Away from the music world, Simon is a member of the Saturday Night Live
Five-Timer's Club (even appearing in the original titular sketch). His memorable music video for "You Can Call Me Al" features Chevy Chase
Paul Simon albums with their own article on TV Tropes:
This musician provides examples of:
- Album Title Drop: From "Everything About It is a Love Song"
At a birthday party
Make a wish and close your eyes.
Surprise, surprise, surprise.
- American Title: "American Tune".
- Coming of Age Story: "Duncan" is largely this, complete with dose of Sex as a Rite-of-Passage towards the end.
- Concept Album: Graceland.
- Culture Clash: All the questions in "How Can You Live in the Northeast?" point to one.
- Either/Or Title: "The Myth of Fingerprints, or, All Around the World".
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "Boy In The Bubble".
- Also from Graceland - "That Was Your Mother" - The upbeat zydeco music disguises the fact that the lyrics are basically a father complaining to their child that he and his mother don't have much fun since he was born.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Averaging 2-3 before the world music started. After, we probably need a different scale.
- Noodle Incident: Not even Simon knows what Mama saw in "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard" (although it was almost certainly something sexual).
- Not Christian Rock: 2011's So Beautiful Or So What contains many references to God and angels. Paul says he didn't notice.
- Performance Video: "You Can Call Me Al" is a parody of this, with Chevy Chase lip-syncing the lyrics while Simon plays various instruments.
- Self-Titled Album: Simon's 1970 album.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: "A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd Into Submission)"
- From "You Can Call Me Al": "All along along/There were incidents and accidents/There were hints and allegations"
- "The Dangling Conversation".
- "Old", from You're The One. It not only name drops Buddy Holly, but is very reminiscent of Holly's guitar riffs.
- The zydeco song "That Was Your Mother":
Clifton Chenier, the King of the Bayou
Standing in the shadow of Clifton Chenier
- "The Late Great Johnny Ace", from Hearts and Bones, is at once a Shout Out to Johnny Ace and In Memoriam to John Lennon.
- Signature Style: Lyrically, at least.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Started cynical-ish, especially on early Simon & Garfunkel records, but he's always had a foot in idealism.
- Technology Marches On: "Kodachrome" (1973) refers to the first successfully mass-marketed color still film, comparing it to memories. These days digital photography has taken over, and the name "Kodachrome" is more connected to the song than the film. The last batch of actual Kodachrome film was shipped out in 2009 with an expiration date of November 2010.
- Trope Codifier: He was the first to succeed at bringing world music to mainstream America's attention. That is, if you don't count The Beatles experimenting with Indian music on Rubber Soul and Revolver.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: Done in the middle of the last verse of "Still Crazy After All These Years".
- Uptown Girl: "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" from Graceland is explicitly about this trope.
- Word Salad Lyrics: "Boy In The Bubble" borders on this.