14.Nov.2011 Another Sunday Night Broadcast Coming Up

Following last night’s WXPN broadcast of Paul Simon’s Chicagoland concert, WTTS-Indianpolis is gearing up to bring listeners his show next Sunday night, November 20. Unlike yesterday’s broadcast, WTTS appears to broadcast online outside of the U.S., which will be a boon to fans worldwide. Sparse details are here.

10.Nov.2011 Listen to Paul Simon online this Sunday Night

WXRT 93 FM in Chicago will be broadcasting Paul Simon’s Sunday night concert from Rosemont, Illinois, live, free and online. Tune in here at 8 P.M. Central Time for what promises to be a great concert.

In the meantime, catch XRT’s Lin Brehmer in conversation with Simon from this past spring.

07.Nov.2011 Paul Simon, Live and in the Lobby

The funnest tour ever shows no signs of slowing down on its fall U.S. swing. While the spring featured Paul inviting fans on stage to perform with (or instead of) him, last night’s Oklahoma City show included another unexpected twist. Based on early reports, it sounds as if the sound system in the theatre broke down. While it was being repaired, Simon and his band performed a few numbers in the lobby, including the tour debut of “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” as captured on YouTube:

16.Sep.2011 Paul Simon at Ground Zero, 9/11/11

“The Sound of Silence”

Haunting.

“Live at Webster Hall”?

According to the singer’s official website, “Paul Simon: Songwriter,” a two-disc collection Simon “hand-picked,” spanning most of his career, will be released just after Simon’s 70th birthday:

PAUL SIMON HAND-PICKS SONGS & PERFORMANCES FOR SONGWRITER, A NEW COLLECTION CHRONICLING FIVE DECADES OF MUSIC

2 Disc Set Illuminates Artist’s Evolution From 1960s to Present

Available Monday, October 24

Songwriter is a selection of songs, chosen by the composer, as the best of his decades-long creative output. Some of these are well-known hits and others more obscure works, but all bear the distinct lyrical, melodic and rhythmic signature of Paul Simon, one of the great composers of popular song in the last 50 years. As Simon has said, “I think of myself as a songwriter first, the recording artist and performer in me follow in the writer’s footsteps.”

Simon brought his own unique perspective on the nuances of his catalog in the assemblage of Songwriter, a new anthology of his work handpicked and sequenced by the artist. The album includes an emotionally resonant rendition of “The Sound of Silence,” from Simon’s 2011 concert at New York’s Webster Hall and Aretha Franklin’s transcendent studio take on “Bridge Over Trouble Water” and other selections from the artist’s critically-acclaimed catalog of songs.

Selecting the individual songs for Songwriter, from the hundreds he’s written and recorded, presented Paul Simon an opportunity to reflect over the entirety of his career and showcase the individual songs best exemplifying the high points in his conversations with the muses — from his early work with Simon & Garfunkel through to his ruminations on 2011′s So Beautiful or So WhatSongwriter includes an emotionally resonant rendition of “The Sound of Silence,” from Simon’s 2011 concert at New York’s Webster Hall.

Songwriter includes liner notes by music journalist Tom Moon, who notes that the collection, “….features commercial landmarks alongside ambitious and often criminally under-appreciated compositions. This structure makes the case that hit-single success is just one (often over-emphasized) measure; inevitably, with an artist who has contributed as much as Simon has, some of the ‘smaller’ pieces get overlooked…. What you learn, listening to this ‘director’s cut’ sampler from a long career, is that there have always been conversations bubbling inside of Simon’s tunes, and those conversations take many forms….”

The release of Songwriter signals a banner year for Simon, who turns 70 on October 13.

Paul Simon - Songwriter

Paul Simon – Songwriter

Disc 1
1. The Sound Of Silence (Live at Webster Hall 2011) – new unreleased
2. The Boxer – Paul Simon – Live Central Park
3. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Aretha Franklin – studio version
4. Mother And Child Reunion
5. Tenderness
6. Peace Like A River
7. American Tune
8. Kodachrome
9. Something So Right
10. Late In The Evening
11. Train In The Distance
12. Hearts And Bones
13. Rene And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War
14. Still Crazy After All These Years
15. Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes
16. The Boy In The Bubble
17. Graceland

Disc 2
1. Obvious Child
2. Further To Fly
3. The Cool, Cool River
4. Spirit Voices
5. Born In Puerto Rico
6. Quality
7. Darling Lorraine
8. Look At That
9. Senorita With A Necklace Of Tears
10. That’s Me
11. Another Galaxy
12. Father And Daughter
13. Rewrite
14. Love And Hard Times
15. So Beautiful Or So What

Nice looking album cover. Obviously Sony/Columbia/Legacy, which acquired Simon’s solo catalogue (do go along with the Simon & Garfunkel catalogue, which it’s had all along) last year, is looking to cash in on the success of Simon’s recent album, So Beautiful or So What, and his current tour, which kicks off again soon. Moreover, Sony presumably wants to get new product into stores to supplant the old Warner best-of discs it has no interest in seeing sold.

Interestingly, Simon has chosen to eschew his hits for rare chestnuts, like the sadly overlooked “Tenderness,” “Señorita with a Necklace of Tears,” “Quality” and so on. No “You Can Call Me Al.” No “50 Ways.” Also of note is the inclusion of Aretha Franklin’s studio take of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which some will misinterpret as a slight to Art Garfunkel. Most interesting is the decision to include a solo performance of “The Sound of Silence,” recorded live at New York’s intimate Webster Hall this June. Given that Connecticut public television was at least supposed to air a video recording that show, it seems as if a “Live at Webster Hall” release, chronicling Simon’s fantastic current live set (presumably including the two guest spots with David Byrne), is due eventually. We hear that it might even get a wide release on PBS this December.

14.Sep.2011 Do You Live in Connecticut?

If you do, you’ll want to tune in to public television tonight:

Paul Simon: Live at Webster Hall, New York

(Hartford, CT – Sept. 9, 2011) – In June 2011, Paul Simon thrilled his hometown fans with a special club performance at New York City’s historic Webster Hall. The show was the culmination of a sold-out, two-month US tour about which the New York Times raved “Salvation pursued musically.” The resulting concert special, PAUL SIMON: LIVE AT WEBSTER HALL, NEW YORK, gets its world premiere on Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) on Wednesday, September 14 at 8 p.m.

The set list was drawn from Simon’s legendary career and includes several songs that haven’t been performed live in many years. Kodachrome, Mother and Child Reunion, Gone At Last and The Obvious Child are just some of the highlights as well as songs from Simon’s recently released, brilliant new album So Beautiful or So What (Hear Music /Concord Music Group), including Dazzling Blue, The Afterlife and the album’s propulsive title track.

Joining Paul on the show is a stellar band of musicians including Cameroonian guitarist Vincent Nguini, guitarist/drummer Jim Oblon, pianist Mick Rossi, saxophonist/keyboardist Andrew Snitzer, bassist Bakithi Kumalo, guitarist Mark Stewart, master percussionist Jamey Haddad and multi-instrumentalist Tony Cedras.

Paul Simon, the first recipient of the Library of Congress’ “George Gershwin Award for Popular Song” in 2007, is one of the most treasured musical performers in American history. CPTV is proud to be the first PBS station in the country to broadcast this incredible musical event from this iconic artist who continues to work at the peak of his artistic and creative powers.

About Connecticut Public Television

CPTV is a media service of the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network. It is a locally and nationally recognized producer and presenter of quality public television programming, including
UConn Women’s Basketball, original documentaries and educational programming. CPTV has built a reputation as a leader in children’s programming, including playing an historic role in bringing Barney & Friends™, Bob the Builder™ and Thomas & Friends™ to public television. The station offers 11 hours of positive, nurturing children’s programs each weekday, reaching 50,000 to 70,000 households daily. The Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CBPN) also includes WNPR. WNPR is an affiliate of National Public Radio, Public Radio International and American Public Media. WNPR serves almost 240,000 listeners weekly in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island with news and information. Its award-winning local programming includes The Faith Middleton Show and Where We Live. Overall, the network brings a broad spectrum of public affairs, entertainment, sports and educational programming to viewers, listeners and readers. For more information, visit cptv.org.

PAUL SIMON: LIVE AT WEBSTER HALL, NEW YORK
Director: Martyn Atkins
Producer: James Pluta
Mobile Audio Recording: John Harris
Audio Mixers: Andy Smith, Phil Ramone
For more information on Paul Simon, please contact:

Joel Amsterdam – Hear Music/Concord Music Group joel.amsterdam@concordmusicgroup.com 310-385-4206

The program isn’t kissed on CPTV’s website and Joel Amsterdam hasn’t replied to my email, but if you live in CT, check it out and let us know what’s what. This is the performance that featured a guest spot by David Byrne, who joined Simon for Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere” and “You Can Call Me Al.”

12.Sep.2011 Paul Simon Back on Tour

If you haven’t seen Paul Simon on tour lately – and you’re reading this blog – and you live in or around any of the cities he’s visiting this fall, do yourself a favour and get a ticket. You’ll catch the show of the year, and you might even be invited onstage.

DATE CITY, STATE VENUE TICKETS
10/17/2011 Phoenix, AZ Comerica Theatre LiveNation.com
10/19/2011 Los Angeles, CA Gibson Amphitheatre Ticketmaster.com
10/20/2011 Berkeley, CA Greek Theatre Ticketmaster.com
10/22/2011 San Diego, CA Viejas Arena Ticketmaster.com
10/23/2011 Santa Barbara, CA Santa Barbara Bowl Ticketmaster.com
10/24/2011 Las Vegas, NV Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace Ticketmaster.com
10/26/2011 Denver, CO IstBank Center TicketHorse.com
10/28/2011 Grand Prairie, TX Verizon Theatre Ticketmaster.com
10/29/2011 Memphis, TN Mud Island Amphitheatre Ticketmaster.com
11/4/2011 New Orleans, LA UNO Lakefront Arena Ticketmaster.com
11/5/2011 Austin, TX Cedar Park Center Ticketmaster.com
11/6/2011 Oklahoma City, OK Civic Center Music Hall Ticketmaster.com

Inspiration for “The Afterlife”?

In 2008, Paul Simon played the Montreux Jazz Festival the night after Leonard Cohen’s performance. The show was a loose one for Simon; it featured the debut of “Love and Hard Times” and included a more-or-less impromptu duet with Patti Austin on “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Simon took a moment, before the third song, “Outrageous,” to talk to the crowd:

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I don’t know if anybody here saw Leonard Cohen perform here last night.

<Applause>

Extraordinary. It was amazing.

(Incidentally, though Cohen recorded a reading of “The Sound of Silence” that was played at the start of the tribute concert to Simon’s music at the 2006 Montreal International Jazz Festival, the two aren’t friends – or at least they weren’t until their mutual friend and sometimes-collaborator, Philip Glass, introduced them.)

During his recent tour, Cohen took the same approach as Simon does – put together a world-class band, build an impeccable setlist, rehearse carefully and deviate at your own risk. Mid-show, Cohen would give “Tower of Song” a lighthearted treatment, playing the main loop on a keyboard and joking through it. At a certain point, he would discuss the key to the life, as epitomized in the song. Here’s how the Sunday Independent described it:

And moments of improvised wit are never far away. “After years of searching through the mysteries,” he says, while his backing singers The Webb Sisters keep the beat, “I’ve finally found the key: it’s ‘doo-dum-dum’…”

Flash forward three years. Simon’s new album, So Beautiful or So What, is ready, featuring a breezy take on death and dying, “The Afterlife”:

After you climb up the ladder of time
The Lord God his near
Face-to-face in the vastness of space
Your words disappear
And you feel like you’re swimming in an ocean of love
And the current is strong
But all that remains when you try to explain
Is a fragment of song

Lord, is it Be Bop a Lula?
Or ooh Papa Doo?

Lord, Be bob a Lula?
or Ooh Papa Doo?

Be bop a Lula

QED.

22.Dec.2010 Quick Hits

Some news and notes from around:

  • Album art for So Beautiful Or So What has been released, on Paul Simon’s website. We think it’s pretty nifty.
  • Paul Simon debuted “Getting Ready for Christmas Day” on The Colbert Report last week; the performance included the extended sample of Rev. Gates’s sermon, as well as a video put together for the song (also available at Simon’s website). Simon discussed the song briefly with Colbert, though the interview was more awkward than revealing. It’s clear, though, that Simon is really proud of his work. Here’s the interview, and here’s the performance. As for the performance, it was pretty good; the band did a good job of replicating the track’s pulse, and the inclusion of the sample and some lovely percussion made for some enjoyable television. One weak point, I suppose, was Mark Stewart’s harmony vocals – usually solidly reliable, they just didn’t mesh well with Simon’s lead. He made up for it, though, with an excellent guitar tone on the solo.
  • Roger Friedman, the showbiz columnist who tipped us to the move of Simon’s catalogue from Warner to Sony earlier this spring, reveals that Simon is already slated to appear on Saturday Night Live around the time of the new album’s release.
  • Simon’s wife, the talented musician Edie Brickell, has two new projects coming out in the coming months. As the San Francisco Examiner notes, Brickell will release an eponymous solo CD in January (produced by Charlie Sexton, the excellent Austin guitarist who produced her previous Volcano and is a regular in Bob Dylan’s gunslinging touring band). Further, Brickell is one of the Gaddabouts, a group put together by legendeary drummer, (and longtime Paul Simon sideman – he came up with the marching-band pattern on “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”) Steve Gadd. The group also features Pino Palladino, who played bass on the first two legs of the Simon & Garfunkel “Old Friends” tour in 2003 and 2004. See www.ediebrickell.com and www.thegaddabouts.com for more information and to sample some music.
  • The City of New York has decided to name the 59th Street Bridge after former mayor Ed Koch. The bridge, which serves as the title of the Simon song better known as “Feelin’ Groovy,” is being renamed after the 86-year-old former mayor, who told the Daily News that he doesn’t expect the name change to catch on. Simon, for his part, offered to rename his song, pending a request from Koch (who introduced Simon & Garfunkel at their legendary 1981 Central Park concert).
  • Lyrics to Simon’s classic “America” have popped up graffiti’d to structures in Saginaw, Michigan. The song famously name-checks the town as the singer describes his journey to find the American soul against a backdrop of national turmoil. Clearly, Simon’s lyrics resonate to this day.

12.Dec.2010 Paul Simon – “So Beautiful Or So What” tracklist and notes

Paul Simon will releases his next record, So Beautiful Or So What, on April 12, 2011, according to Concord Music, which will release the album on its Hear Music label. According to the label’s website, So Beautiful will include 10 songs, kicking off with “Getting Ready for Christmas Day,” Simon’s current single (available as an MP3 and in two video formats for free at his own website).

Below is the tracklist (with running times) for the album:

1. Getting Ready For Christmas Day (4:06)
2. The Afterlife (3:40)
3. Dazzling Blue (4:32)
4. Rewrite (3:49)
5. Love and Hard Times (4:09)
6. Love Is Eternal Sacred Light (4:02)
7. Amulet (1:36)
8. Questions for the Angels (3:49)
9. Love and Blessings (4:18)
10. So Beautiful Or So What (4:07)

“Getting Ready” isn’t the only song that might sound familiar to fan’s of Simon’s recent work. The lyrics to “Love and Hard Times” and “Rewrite” were included in Lyrics 1964-2008, the hardcover book Simon put out two years ago. While “Rewrite” has never been performed publicly (as far as we know), “Love and Hard Times” has made its way into some of Simon’s performances in recent years, beginning with a stop at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2008, then during a Q&A at Barnes and Noble to promote book in November of that year, and then at the Beacon Theater re-opening Simon did in February 2009. In July 2009, Simon released a version of “Questions for the Angels” on iTunes to coincide with a compilation album released through Starbucks, though that version of the song no longer appears to be available. Presumably the track on the new album will be different than the cut already released. Finally, “Amulet” is an instrumental guitar melody Simon wrote for Luciana Souza, the Brazilian jazz singer who improvised vocals over it on her recent album, Tide. Souza performed with Simon at his 2008 Brooklyn Academy of Music concerts, and joined him at the Beacon Theater as well.

According to an interview in the current edition of Rolling Stone magazine, Simon discussed the songwriting process that led to the new album. Discussing a particular passage from his last album, Surprise, Simon said, “That’s the part I liked the best out of all of it. So maybe I’ll go and do a thing I haven’t done in 20-odd years, which is sit in a room and write.” (One wonders what passage Simon was referring to – perhaps the opening chords of “Another Galaxy”?) Instead of working first with drums, Simon began to craft songs around harmony and structure on his guitar, which reminded him of his approach to 1975′s Still Crazy After All These Years. He then assembled a group of familiar, world-class musicians, including longtime Simon band guitarist Vincent Nguini and You’re The One percussionist Steve Shehan. The record also features familial backing vocals from Simon’s wife, Edie Brickell, and his daughter, Lulu, as well as a sample of a Sonny Terry harmonica, some electronic drum parts from Grizzly Bear’s Chris Bear and the bluegrass playing of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.

While Simon told Rolling Stone he’d like to perform with Art Garfunkel again, his immediate plans are to support the release of So Beautiful with a solo tour that, like the concerts around the release of You’re The One, would feature deep cuts from his catalogue like “Peace Like a River” and “Crazy Love (Vol. II).” Simon claims that his current approach to music-making is basically indie (Simon financed the sessions himself and then shopped around for a record label), which suits him just fine. “I’m focused on this album and this band,” he said. “It’s my kind of rock & roll.”

The December 23/January 6 edition of Rolling Stone is on newsstands; John Lennon is on the cover.

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