Periodically, I plan to use this space to pay homage to artists who I believe are worthy of focused attention — artists with an extraordinary, consistently excellent body of work and a compelling story to tell. In this essay, I salute one of the songwriting giants of the last half-century — Paul Simon.
I’d say there are less than a dozen true geniuses of song craftsmanship in popular music, and among that rarified club, Paul Simon is my personal hero, because essentially, he’s the reason I wanted to learn how to play acoustic guitar — so I could sing his songs around the bonfires and on back porches with friends and family.
From the delicate melodies and wistful lyrics of his early days with Art Garfunkel through his use of an ever-broadening palette of musical styles and rhythms and vocabulary-rich lyrics as a solo artist, Simon continues to astonish and impress critics and the public alike as he marks his 50th year as a composer, as well as guitarist, singer and recording artist. Perhaps the best indication of his nearly universal acclaim in the songwriting community was his selection as the very first recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, established in 2007 to honor the titans of 20th (and 21st) Century popular songwriting.