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by Justin Farrar

April 13, 2011

Still Crazy: Paul Simon Through the Years

by Justin Farrar  |  April 13, 2011

I can't confirm this, but around Rhapsody HQ, I believe I'm known as the dude who enjoys churning out insanely sprawling playlists week after week. It's true I possess a sense of thoroughness that borders on clinically diagnosable obsessive-compulsive disorder. Yet when it comes to certain artists, maniacal thoroughness is the only way to properly sum up their careers, sounds and myriad contributions to music. Miles, Dylan, Nina Simone, Floyd, Sun Ra, The Stones, Van Der Graaf Generator's Peter Hammill and Bowie all belong to this category.

So does that little rascal Paul Simon.

Simon, who recorded his first rock 'n' roll sides as a teenager in the late 1950s, has been a fundamental component of America's collective pop consciousness ever since Columbia Records dropped Simon & Garfunkel's debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., in fall 1964 (OK, so it took another six months). Over the next five decades, he grew up before our very eyes and in the process, helped kick-start no less than three significant movements: classic folk rock, the singer-songwriter trend of the 1970s and, with Graceland and The Rhythm of the Saints, modern world-pop. He also appeared on Saturday Night Live more than a dozen times and helped birth soft rock and adult contemporary but let's ignore the latter two aberrations for the time being.

One of the coolest developments in Simon's legacy is how his music found an entirely new audience in the young century when indie pop brats Vampire Weekend and Yeasayer started citing Graceland as a major inspiration. If this is any indication, Simon's influence will be felt for generations to come.

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