Jan 29, 2008


I used to have a quick and easy answer for those who asked about my musical influences/favorites: Elvis Costello and Paul Simon. That was true for quite a number of years, essentially from high school on. I'm dating myself here, but when Graceland came out, I was a freshman in college, and its wide acclaim made me feel vindicated, as if the world was finally (re)discovering the guy whose previous five solo records (Hearts and Bones, anyone?) I'd kept close to my vest for several happily solitary years.

Though the peripatetic, over-achieving Costello has captured my attention more consistently in the years since, and my taste has skewed away from Simon's softer-edged pop inflections, I'm fascinated to learn that BAM will host three programs of Simon's music under the rubric Love in Hard Times: The Music of Paul Simon, throughout the month of April. The first will be a concert staging of The Capeman, Simon's misbegotten Broadway show of 1998, which I couldn't bring myself to see (and whose cast album I've barely spun, sorry to say, though I relish some of its deep-dish doo-wop flavors).

The other two will cover his world-music and "American" periods. Joining him in the former concert will be a trio of artists I love in their own right--Milton Nascimento, Hugh Masekela, and David Byrne--and the former will include Olu Dara, The Roches, and Brooklyn-based band Grizzly Bear.

If Simon has reached the retrospective stage of his career, in other words, he almost couldn't be doing it better.

(One weird grace note: Apparently "Visa Signature" cardholders have special "advanced access." Now where have I heard this before [scroll to bottom of post]?)


Joe said...

i know it's a problematic show, but i still listen to "Adios Hermanos" from The Capeman on the regular. that song is extraordinary.

John said...

Ah, a fellow Simon fan. The man is an American master. Along with Bowie, he's the only other guy I can think of who's had hits for over forty years. Forty years, man. What's the brilliant solo album where he's in that weird parka on the album cover? Papa Hobo, anyone?

TimeOut New York did a "50 Greatest New York Musicians" article a while back and Simon was like 45th. Behind a bunch of one-hit rap acts.

I'm a little older than you, so I'm scarred deeply and happily by the first punk wave, but goddamn I can put on The Coast or American Tune and just about start crying, it's so good.