Music / Paul Simon

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/PaulSimon_5815.jpg
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"

Paul Frederic 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 '70s, 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 Graceland (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".
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Inverted and defied by "Born At the Right Time".
  • Coming-of-Age Story: "Duncan" is largely this, complete with dose of Sex as 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.
    • "Mother and Child Reunion" - An upbeat, reggae-flavored song about a father trying to console a child about the death of the mother.
  • 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".
  • Not Christian Rock:
    • 2011's So Beautiful Or So What contains many references to God and angels. Paul says he didn't notice.
    • There's been plenty of speculation over the meaning of the line "The cross is in the ballpark" in "Obvious Child".
  • Performance Video: "You Can Call Me Al" is a parody of this, with Chevy Chase lip-syncing the lyrics while Simon plays various instruments.
  • Right Through the Wall: Alluded to in "Duncan".
  • 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".
  • Shout-Out:
    • "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
  • Signature Style: Lyrically, at least.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Started cynical-ish, especially on early Simon & Garfunkel records, but he's always had a foot in idealism.
  • Spiritual Successor: "Graceland" is similar to "Hearts and Bones" musically and lyrically, since they're both about actual road trips Simon took and both were inspired by the collapse of his marriage with Carrie Fisher. And they were both the title songs of their respective albums.
  • To Absent Friends: Combined with Drowning My Sorrows at the end of "The Late Great Johnny Ace".
  • 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.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Music/PaulSimon