Paul Simon: A Life

Paul Simon: A Life

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by Marc Eliot
     
 

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How did a young doo-wop singer and Brill Building wannabe transform himself into a giant of the tumultuous rock revolution of the 1960s? What did Paul Simon's idol Bob Dylan do to earn Simon's enduring ire? And what is it that makes Paul's friendship with Art Garfunkel the longest, most successful, most complicated, and weirdest relationship in modern music history?

Overview

How did a young doo-wop singer and Brill Building wannabe transform himself into a giant of the tumultuous rock revolution of the 1960s? What did Paul Simon's idol Bob Dylan do to earn Simon's enduring ire? And what is it that makes Paul's friendship with Art Garfunkel the longest, most successful, most complicated, and weirdest relationship in modern music history?

In Paul Simon: A Life, New York Times bestselling biographer Marc Eliot presents the most detailed and comprehensive account to date of the incredible life and career of this multitalented, dynamic, and influential music icon.

This definitive biography reveals how Simon's immigrant parents encouraged his musical development from an early age, how he became friends with a tall gangly schoolmate who threatened to steal his musical thunder in a grade-school production of Alice in Wonderland, and how their pattern of breaking up and reuniting began long before they became "Simon & Garfunkel."

Drawing on extensive interviews with many of Simon's friends, fellow musicians, and collaborators, Eliot relates how the duo was discovered at Gerde's Folk City in 1963, what exactly Paul was doing in England while the re-engineered recording of "The Sound of Silence" was becoming a monster hit back home, and how a song that he hadn't even finished writing became one of the biggest of Simon & Garfunkel's many huge hits.

You'll find a detailed review of the crucial role Paul played in the Monterey Music Festival, how Art Garfunkel's acting career delayed the recording and release of the Bridge over Troubled Water album, and how that landmark and last Simon & Garfunkel record documents their long and contentious friendship.

You'll also discover the enormous efforts Paul made to ensure that his first solo album would sound completely different from Simon & Garfunkel; the long and complex process that led to the creation of Graceland, the album that reinvigorated his career in the 1980s; and the whole story behind The Capeman, his disastrous 1998 attempt at a Broadway musical.

Complete with more than two dozen photos, many never before published, this highly entertaining biography will give you a new understanding of this talented artist.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"If Dylan was the undisputed poet of the sixties, Paul was its resident diarist" offers Eliot (American Rebel), biographer of cultural icons, as he turns his spotlight on Simon. While younger audiences may know him mostly as a solo artist, fans of Simon & Garfunkel will appreciate the attention Eliot gives to the early years. A child of musicians, Simon began singing with Garfunkel as a young man; the two have performed together, off and on, for most of their lives, and Eliot details their numerous songs, concerts, and breakups while never neglecting Simon's private life. Readers will lean about the music industry, the inspiration behind many of Simon's songs, and his musical friends and rivals as Eliot follows Simon from schoolboy to musical innovator. From efforts that came before "The Sounds of Silence" to the failed stage production of The Capeman and beyond, Eliot almost obsessively chronicles aspects of every song with prose that is smooth and lively, if at times slipping toward purple. Fans of any era of Simon's long career will appreciate the attention to detail. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

* ""If Dylan was the undisputed poet of the sixties, Paul was its resident diarist"" offers Eliot (American Rebel), biographer of cultural icons, as he turns his spotlight on Simon. While younger audiences may know him mostly as a solo artist, fans of Simon & Garfunkel will appreciate the attention Eliot gives to the early years. A child of musicians, Simon began singing with Garfunkel as a young man; the two have performed together, off and on, for most of their lives, and Eliot details their numerous songs, concerts, and breakups while never neglecting Simon's private life. Readers will lean about the music industry, the inspiration behind many of Simon's songs, and his musical friends and rivals as Eliot follows Simon from schoolboy to musical innovator. From efforts that came before ""The Sounds of Silence"" to the failed stage production of The Capeman and beyond, Eliot almost obsessively chronicles aspects of every song with prose that is smooth and lively, if at times slipping toward purple. Fans of any era of Simon's long career will appreciate the attention to detail. (Publishers Weekly, November 8, 2010)

""Were Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel lovers? No, but Marc Eliot's serviceable biography of the duo's more prolific, more successful, shorter half gets kudos for raising that question about two folk superstars who loved the sound of bickering more than the sound of silence.

""'Several of the songs on [the album ""Bridge Over Troubled Water""] explicitly point the accusatory finger of abandonment at Artie,' writes Eliot, who has also published books about the Eagles and Bruce Springsteen. 'To some, the finished album had a whiff of homoeroticism about it, as much of it seemed to be about the romantic breakup of a couple.' But if Garfunkel spent too much time away from music dabbling in film, perhaps it was only because Simon had been trying to go solo since at least 1957, when as teenagers the pair scored the hit 'Hey Schoolgirl' under the pseudonyms 'Tom & Jerry.'

""Simon, of course, got the last laugh, composing and writing the quintuple-platinum masterpiece 'Graceland' (1986) not long after Garfunkel's acting career had gone from 'Catch-22' to B-movies like 'Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession.'

""Eliot is less than convincing when he criticizes 'the sociopolitically correct media lions forever waiting for celebrities at the arrival gates of every politically incorrect airport' who dared question Simon's decision to write 'Graceland' in apartheid South Africa. But the author does pin down the source of his subject's notorious crankiness: 'Paul was, and always would be, self-conscious about his height.' Maybe all it takes to sell 5 million records is a robust Napoleon complex and a tall partner."" (Washington Post Review)

If Dylan was the undisputed poet of the sixties, Paul was its resident diarist"" offers Eliot (American Rebel), biographer of cultural icons, as he turns his spotlight on Simon. While younger audiences may know him mostly as a solo artist, fans of Simon & Garfunkel will appreciate the attention Eliot gives to the early years. A child of musicians, Simon began singing with Garfunkel as a young man; the two have performed together, off and on, for most of their lives, and Eliot details their numerous songs, concerts, and breakups while never neglecting Simon's private life. Readers will lean about the music industry, the inspiration behind many of Simon's songs, and his musical friends and rivals as Eliot follows Simon from schoolboy to musical innovator. From efforts that came before ""The Sounds of Silence"" to the failed stage production of The Capeman and beyond, Eliot almost obsessively chronicles aspects of every song with prose that is smooth and lively, if at times slipping toward purple. Fans of any era of Simon's long career will appreciate the attention to detail. (Publishers Weekly Review, October 2010)""

Library Journal
In his new biography of Paul Simon, Eliot (To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles) relies on secondary sources for his information and, apart from filling in the last decade, doesn't break significant ground that wasn't covered in biographies by Patrick Humphies and Laura Jackson or Joseph Morella and Patricia Barey's Simon and Garfunkel, all of which are cited in Eliot's extensive bibliography. Eliot is heavy on detail but gets many of them wrong. For example, "What a Wonderful World" was not a remake of the Louis Armstrong song but the Sam Cooke tune, and it was Rigo Star who played guitar on "Rhythm of the Saints," not Beatle drummer Ringo Starr. While Eliot covers the high points of both Simon's professional output and his personal relationships, the reader feels the distance between author and subject.Verdict Nearing 70, Simon has been making music since the Fifties, and plans are in the works for an upcoming tour with erstwhile partner Art Garfunkel. We've neither heard the last of him nor yet seen the definitive biography.—Bill Baars, Lake Oswego P.L., OR

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470900871
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
09/23/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
651,594
File size:
2 MB

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Meet the Author

MARC ELIOT is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books on popular culture, among them the highly acclaimed biography Cary Grant, the award-winning Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince, and American rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood, plus the music biographies Down Thunder Road: The Making of Bruce Springsteen, To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles, and Death of a Rebel, about Phil Ochs. Visit him at marceliot.net.

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