Friday on My Mind: Happy Birthday, Paul Simon

Paul Simon in 1987 / photo by Harrison Funk

It’s time again for Friday on My Mind, our weekly blog post where we look at videos centered around one common theme. This is a collaborative effort between KEXP and King 5 News. This weekend, Paul Simon will be celebrating his 71st Birthday. Let that sink in. Icon. Garfunkel’s better half. 10-time host of Saturday Night Live. Mr. Edie Brickell. He is 71.

Born Paul Frederic Simon on October 13th, 1941, in Newark, Paul spent his childhood growing up in Queens. His mother was an English teacher and his father was also an educator but on the side was a jazz musician. Paul Simon grew up listening to and eventually being influenced by early folk music, R&B, and by the likes of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley. When he was 11, he met and became friends with Art Garfunkel, whose hair he thought at the time was “just a phase.” The two quickly bonded over their common love of music, and began singing as a duo. After many school performances and the recording of a single under the name Tom & Jerry, the two parted and focused on college although each continued to sing and eventually began performing together again under their own names when the NY folk revival began in the early 60’s. The two always held creative differences. One of them wrote pretty much all of the songs, and Simon & Garfunkel ended up disbanding after the release of 1970’s Bridge Over Troubled Water (get it!?). Simon began releasing solo albums throughout the 70’s and 80’s with Graceland being the most commercially successful of his releases.

To celebrate this brilliant American icon, we are looking at a few highlights from his extensive career:

Simon & Garfunkel – Homeward Bound (at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967)

“Homeward Bound” was Simon & Garfunkel’s 2nd single. Released in 1966 and from the album Sounds of Silence. “Homeward Bound” was written by a 22 year old Paul Simon while he was stuck at a train station in Essex, England. After Simon & Garfunkel’s first album, Wednesday Morning, 3AM failed commercially, Simon moved to England, so while the song is literally about wanting to get home, it is also about his wanting to come back home to the US. Simon has said that he actually doesn’t really like the song. That is kind of dickish thing to say since a lot of us think it’s awesome and listened to it over and over because it was their parent’s ONLY decent 8-Track, but whatever.

Paul Simon – 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover (On BBC TV in 1975)

In an interview Paul Simon gave in 1975, he said that he woke up one morning with the line “The problem is all inside your head, she said to me.” He went with it and began to compose the entire song while using an electronic drum machine. “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” then became the final track on the album Still Crazy After All These Years. Obviously, he’s lying and a woman actually told him that it was probably was all inside his head, but whatever.

Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al

1986’s Graceland is a seminal album for many. It was Simon’s most commercially successful to date. It was certified platinum five times and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The song and video for the album single “You Can Call Me Al” are etched in many people’s memories. Some say it was Chevy Chase’s best work. Obviously, they hadn’t anticipated Community, but whatever.

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