"By any sensible standard," Paul Simon is "a great American composer," says Jim Fusilli at The Wall Street Journal. And yet, while peers like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell are worshipped and emulated by today's up-and-coming artists, "young musicians and fans haven't embraced the 69-year-old Mr. Simon with the same gusto." Why? In part, it's because Simon isn't hip, and really never has been. But that's a pretty lame rationale for dismissing his impressive and enduring catalog of hits, which "land squarely on the heart as well as the mind." Here, an excerpt:
There may be legitimate reasons for the chasm between Mr. Simon and younger audiences. Some of his lyrics portray him as an upscale urban intellectual who shields his emotions behind a well-considered phrase; when he writes at street level, there can be a sense that he's revealing research rather than experience. Mr. Simon's lyrics are almost always age appropriate; that is, his point of view is often that of whatever age he was when he wrote the song, relating experiences younger musicians and fans may not have had. For all his musical explorations— gospel, reggae, Mexican folk, South African mbaqanga, Afro-Brazilian batucada and electronic soundscapes, among them— Mr. Simon's recordings often polish away needed bite and edge. He's not an indie rocker.
Read the entire article at The Wall Street Journal.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Attack of the invasive species
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- Which states get screwed worst by the Electoral College?
- How Captain America won over China
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
Subscribe to the Week