Paul Simon's career has something that is becoming quite rare in the entertainment world: longevity. Yes, the songs on this collection span over three decades. During that time period our culture, the music biz, and Simon himself have seen great changes.
So has every one of us.
For instance, at the beginning of this thirty year period, I could not have been called a Paul Simon fan. I had no use for Simon & Garfunkel and considered the Simon solo material to be a natural extension. So hey, why bother? Then my girlfriend put on one of his records and, well..."Still Crazy After All These Years" was something that couldn't be denied. Maybe, just maybe, it was time to look beyond my then current Foghat/Bad Company/Nugent listening habits.
All these years later, my palette of sounds has expanded far beyond what I'd ever though possible. Though Simon was probably not surprised by his own path, his music has touched upon many genres: folk, folk rock, pop, Brazilian, South African, and even a little bit of art rock (on last year's Surprise). Somehow, this collection of disparate musics hangs together as a single artistic statement.
But wait, let's get back to that girlfriend/epiphany thing for a minute. See, it really wasn't all that much of an awakening as I still went right along ignoring Simon's music. Oh sure, I might have noticed when "You Can Call Me Al" was an unavoidable presence on the airwaves but that was about it (OK, that and Simon's hilarious "Still Crazy..." performed in a turkey costume on Saturday Night Live).
Around about the time that Simon released Surprise, I took a look back across thirty years to see an amazing lineup of tunes — "Late In The Evening," "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover," "Kodachrome," "Slip Slidin' Away," "American Tune," "Me And Julio Down By The School Yard," "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes," "Graceland," "The Boy In The Bubble." My goodness, that's a whole lotta songwriting goodness right there!
The good news is that Simon shows no signs of slowing down. Artistically, Surprise sits proudly alongside just about all of his other records. Another thirty years is probably too much to ask but hey, you never know. There's longevity, and then there's longevity!