“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.