Paul Simon
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Wednesday Morning 3 AM (1964), 5/10
Sounds Of Silence (1966), 5/10
Parsley Sage Rosemary And Thyme (1966), 6/10
Bookends (1968), 6/10
Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970), 7/10
Paul Simon (1972), 6.5/10
There Goes Rhymin' Simon (1973), 6.5/10
Heart And Bones (1983), 6.5/10
Graceland (1986), 7/10
Still Crazy After All These Years (1975), 6/10
The Rhythm Of the Saints (1990), 6/10
Songs From The Capeman (1997), 5/10
You're the One (1998), 5/10
Surprise (2006), 6/10
So Beautiful or So What (2011), 5/10
Links:

Paul Simon was the poet who best captured the psyche of his generation. While Dylan was the spokesman of the peace marches and the campus sit-ins, Simon represented the average, shy, introverted kid, lonely in his bedroom, distressed by post-puberal sensitivity. Simon did not write angry protest songs, but tender, fragile, ethereal, melancholy odes, notably Sounds Of Silence (1965), I Am A Rock (1966), Mrs Robinson (1968), Bridge Over Troubled Water (1969), The Boxer (1969). He employed the simplest and most recognizible of vehicles: vocal harmonies and the folk ballad. He fused them in an austere structure that had the magnificent translucence of the madrigal and the motet. On his own, Paul Simon (after breaking up with Art Garfunkel) shifted the emphasis on ethnic music, achieving a sublime fusion of western and African traditions on There Goes Rhymin' Simon (1973), Heart And Bones (1983), and Graceland (1986).
(Translated by Ornella C. Grannis)

Paul Simon was the Greenwich Movement poet who better than any other captured the psyche of his generation. Removed from the peace marches and the campus sit-ins, Simon used music to express the sensibility of those who were more emotional and introverted. His songs are tender responses and seem fragile compared to the songs of protest. The autumnal tone of Simon & Garfunkel was the opposite of Dylan's angry and prophetic tone. The students protested in the campuses but at the end of the day they had to contend with the subjective conundrum of post-puberty.

Musically Simon & Garfunkel joined the two white traditions that endured after the war: that of folk singers and that of vocal harmonies. With respect to the folk tradition, Simon & Garfunkel were sweeter and more melodic, closer to the English and Scottish masters. With respect to the vocal harmonies, the duo displayed a clearer and more austere style, almost neoclassical, influenced by renaissance music and medieval motets. Their most immediate influence was the Everly Brothers, but Simon's whispering, almost in falsetto and Art Garfunkel's seraphim harmonizing produced something much more ethereal, even spiritual.

Simon and Garfunkel, neighborhood friends, debuted at 15 in 1957 with the pseudonym Tom and Jerry. They had a small hit, Hey Schoolgirl. They split for several years, during which time Garfunkel studied architecture and Simon made a living selling lyrics. They found each other again in 1962 and in 1964 got a recording contract. They recorded Wednesday Morning 3 AM (Columbia, 1964), a compilation of covers and originals performed only with an acoustic guitar; unfortunately they were considered two more imitators of Dylan.

Thanks to their producer, Tom Wilson, one of the few Afro-American producers, the same man who had "electrified" Dylan, one of their songs bounced to the top of the charts. Wilson had complemented the original acoustic sound with an arrangement of electric guitars, bass and drums: thus regenerated, The Sound Of Silence - a denunciation of incommunicability - became the most moving single of 1965. The lyric was an emotional shock for a generation of adolescents violated by the lack of feeling in urban civilization and more than ever needing love: "And the people bowed and prayed/ to the neon god they made/ and the sign flashed out its warning/ ...The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls/ and tenement halls/ and whispered in the sound of silence". Simon, who was in England recording Song Book (CBS, 1965), knew nothing of the new arrangement. When he returned, he discovered that he had become famous.

Simon learned his lesson and from that moment on he applied the same procedure to all the songs he composed. In effect the majority of their successive hits were songs that he had originally composed prior to 1965 (or for his English album). In the span of few months Kathy's Song (1965), an idyllic guitar serenade and I Am A Rock (1966), influenced by the sound of Blonde On Blonde, reached the top of the charts.

Simon specialized in tender inspections into the soul of adolescents and also in picturesque miniatures of Americana arranged in a simple manner and sung in muted tones by the two singers. Their music, always at the boundary between fresh graceful poetry and careless pop tune, resorted to images and emotions - whereas Dylan resorted to visions and sermons - to express the malaise of youth.

The idea came at the right moment: their sound, easy and light, satisfied the detachment of the conformists and the existential melancholy of the protesters.

The Sounds Of Silence (Columbia, 1966) contains the hit and part of the material of Song Book, songs written from 1962 to 1965.

Parsley Sage Rosemary And Thyme (Columbia, 1966) is the first album to show an artistic personality. Scarborough Fair opens the album with its delicate interlacing of vocalizations over a humble, tinkling accompaniment by harpsichord, triangles and guitar (a masterpiece of production, due to the first eight-track recorder). For Emily, a simple experiment with brilliant rhythms, gives free play to Simon's romanticism. Homeward Bound fuses pop music with the country of the prairies. Dangling Conversation, A Poem On The Underground Wall and Patterns are conscious social frescoes. None of these songs can compete with the hits of the year before, but side by side they are a small testament to Simon's spirituality.

Mrs. Robinson, a catchy refrain of energetic guitar rhythms established the generational prestige of the duo. It is also the soundtrack of Mike Nichols' movie "The Graduate", the story of a marginalized young man in search of love, a story in which tens of millions of young men recognized themselves. America, underlined by the soothing refrain of the organ, is a more complex song that culminates with an emphatic, symphonic finale. They are the support columns of the album Bookends (Columbia, 1968), that also includes sophisticated tunes such as Fakin' It, A Hazy Shade Of Winter, At The Zoo, and proved the ambitions of the duo in studio production (particularly the vocal overdubs).

With regard to the arrangements, the peak was reached with the orchestral gospel in crescendo in Bridge Over Troubled Waters (1969), a production tour de force (thanks to a 16-track recorder), derived from the Swan Silvertones' gospel song Mary Don't You Weep (1955), formed by four West Virginia miners in 1938 and converted to a melodic format Mary Don't You Weep (1955), that anchored the best selling album of all time (nine million copies sold). The album includes the psychedelic soul of The Boxer (one of the first songs recorded on sixteen tracks) - with Renaissance trumpet, percussive effects that emphasize the refrain and a cosmic grand finale for string orchestra; the Andean folk with flutes and Latin sound of El Condor Pasa; and the party-oriented soul of Cecilia, the epitome of Simon's rhythmic experimentations (xylophone, hand clapping, foot stomping, bass drum), all pieces that had little in common with folk and rock of those years. Simon & Garfunkel's songs had become famous thanks to their melodies, but, in reality, they parted from the rest of rock and folk music mainly because of the elegant, intricate and sophisticate sound that the duo crafted in the studio.

Greatest Hits (CBS, 1972) is a compilation of all the hits.

When Simon and Garfunkel split it was almost a tragedy for those who had grown accustomed to their characterization of the turmoil of adolescence. Simon had two features that made him the natural interpreter of juvenile alienation: a poetic flair for solitude and the ability to put tender melancholy to music. The fervent populism and the sober fatalism of his confessions touched the heart of good and bad alike, as universal prayers do. Nobody could capture the spirit of the average American youth as Paul Simon did in those days.

Paul Simon was the soul of the duo. He was "the sound of silence" that nurtured the dreams and dried the tears of an entire generation. Throughout his solo career, starting with the 1972 album Paul Simon, an eclectic and depressed LP, Simon continued to explore the introspective easy-listening format. Casting off the fetters of folk and vocal harmonizing, Simon concentrated on what had always attracted him: exotic rhythms and melodies. Indeed, a lot of his successful songs with Simon and Garfunkel had already been influenced by the rhythms of the third world. His solo work simply allowed him to better pursue that inclination.

The first album features the reggae of Mother And Child Reunion and the salsa of Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard, while the jubilee of Loves Me Like A Rock, the blues of St Judy's Comet, the solemn American Tune and the saloon ragtime of Kodachrome embellish the eclectic There Goes Rhymin' Simon (Columbia, 1973), de facto an album of black music.

With Still Crazy After All These Years (1975), the masterly style of his arrangements borders narcissism through the production of tunes that resemble a stage play, such as Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover.

In 1980 Simon wrote the screenplay and starred in One Trick Pony, which produced the hit Late In The Evening. In 1981 he and Garfunkel hosted an free concert in Central Park, New York City, for an audience of 500,000 people. Simon's alter egos - the musicologist of exotic folklore, the innocent, dreamy teenager, the reporter of human tragedies - found a suggestive balance in Hearts And Bones (1983), a sophisticated, mature album that that entrusts itself to avant guard scores (Late Great Johnny Ace) as well as anachronistic doo-wop (Rene And Georgette Magritte). It's an album that seals twenty years of unorthodox research with gracious and discreet ballads such as Song About The Moon and Train In The Distance.

Hearts And Bones, Simon's least successful and most criticized album, was the prelude to the African-tinged Graceland (1986), a cycle of touching and compassionate songs that established him for good among the great composers of music without boundaries. The vivid imagery of Boy In The Bubble, a broken-hearted pilgrimage among the ruins of humanity, accompanied with wavering accordion, martial drums and angelic choir, ranks among his masterpieces. His spiritual testament, instead, is to be found in the metaphysical vision of Graceland, a breezy, luminous, pulsating prayer of redemption that bridges country and gospel music. Simon seems to wander in an imaginary past: the frantic cajun-bluegrass rigmarole of Gumboots, the Coasters-like sax-driven swirling novelty That Was Your Mother, the mournful vocal harmonies of Homeless, have the "feeling" of nostalgy, although their sound has never existed before. He has the uncanny ability to artifically permeate a songs with that gentle, tender, moving feeling of sentimental old things. The jungle groove and the catchy refrain of You Can Call Me Al even suit the discos. Even when western and African arrangements collide (I Know What I Know) or don't quite blend (the peppy fanfare of Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes), Simon creates a new world of sounds by grafting his sparse, gentle, melodic folk-rock onto the funk jive of South Africa's traditional music.

Negotiations (CBS, 1988) is an anthology.

In the course of twenty years Paul Simon has established himself as one of the most accomplished and sophisticated songwriters, able to condense, in a few verses, simple but universal emotions by giving them, at once, a transcendental and prophetic aura. His are not songs, they are biblical parables. When his dialectic married sonic elements of other cultures, those parables became more serious.

The delicate urban introspection, the humble but profound vignettes of daily life, the stirring expressions of humane dismay, all have in common an intense sense of compassion for the personal and public tragedies of humanity.

Paul Simon fu il poeta del Greenwich Village che meglio di ogni altro catturo` la psiche della propria generazione. Lontano dalle marce della pace e dai sit-in dei campus, Simon uso` la musica per esprimere la sensibilita` dei ragazzi piu` emotivi e introversi. Le sue canzoni sono emozioni tenere e sembrano fragili al cospetto della canzone di protesta. Il tono autunnale delle canzoni di Simon & Garfunkel costituiva il rovescio della medaglia del tono arrabbiato e profetico di Dylan. I ragazzi contestavano nei campus ma poi dovevano vedersela con le problematiche sentimentali della post-puberta`.

Musicalmente, Simon & Garfunkel fusero due tradizioni di musica bianca che duravavano dagli anni del dopoguerra: quella dei folksinger e quella delle armonie vocali. Rispetto alla tradizione dei folksinger Simon & Garfunkel erano piu` dolci e melodici, piu` vicini ai maestri inglesi e scozzesi. Rispetto alla tradizione delle armonie vocali, i due sfoggiavano uno stile limpido e austero, quasi classificheggiante, influenzato dalla "song" rinascimentale e dai mottetti medievali. Il precedente piu` immediato era quello degli Everly Brothers, ma il bisbiglio quasi in falsetto di Simon e il serafico controcanto di Art Garfunkel costituivano qualcosa di molto piu` etereo e persino spirituale.

Simon e Garfunkel, ragazzi di quartiere, esordirono quindicenni nel 1957 con lo pseudonimo Tom and Jerry e ottennero un piccolo hit (Hey Schoolgirl). Poi si separarono per diversi anni, durante i quali Garfunkel studio` architettura e Simon sbarco` il lunario vendendo liriche. Si ritrovarono nel 1962 e nel 1964 ottennero un contratto discografico, grazie al quale registrarono Wednesday Morning 3 AM (Columbia, 1964), una raccolta di cover e di canzoni originali eseguite con l'accompagnamento della sola chitarra acustica; ma erano soltanto due dei tanti imitatori di Dylan, due cantanti folk che si accompagnavano alla chitarra acustica.

Fu grazie al loro produttore, Tom Wilson, uno dei pochi produttori di colore, lo stesso che aveva elettrificato Dylan, che una loro canzone balzo` al primo posto delle charts. Wilson aveva sovrapposto al brano acustico originale un arrangiamento con chitarre elettriche, basso e batteria: cosi` rigenerato, Sounds Of Silence, una denuncia dell'incomunicabilita`, divenne il 45 giri piu` commovente dell'anno (1965). Le liriche furono uno shock emotivo per una generazione di adolescenti violentati dall'aridita` della civilta` urbana e piu` che mai bisognosi di affetto: "And the people bowed and prayed/ to the neon god they made/ and the sign flashed out its warning:/ The words of the prophets are/ written on the subway walls/ and tenement halls/ and whispered in the sound of silence". Simon, in Inghilterra a registrare un album di folk, Song Book (CBS, 1965), rimase all'oscuro dell'operazione e soltanto al ritorno scopri` di essere diventato famoso.

Simon imparo` la lezione e da quel momento non fece altro che applicare lo stesso procedimento a tutte le canzoni che aveva composto. In effetti gran parte degli hit successivi furono canzoni che aveva originariamente composto prima del 1965 (oppure per il suo disco inglese). Nel giro di pochi mesi scalarono le classifiche anche Kathy's Song (1965), serenata idilliaca per sola chitarra, e I Am A Rock (1966), influenzata dal sound di Blonde On Blonde.
Simon si specializzo` in tenere ispezioni nell'animo degli adolescenti in fase post-puberale e in quadretti pittoreschi di vita americana, arrangiati in modo semplice e cantati in un tono fievole dai due cantanti. La loro musica, sempre al confine fra poesia fresca e leggiadra e canzonetta sciatta e banale, esprimeva il malessere dei giovani ricorrendo a immagini ed emozioni laddove Dylan usava visioni e sermoni.

L'idea capito` al momento giusto: piu' facile e leggero, il loro sound veniva incontro alle esigenze di disimpegno dei giovani che non contestavano, e si accordava con la malinconia esistenziale che turbava i giovani contestatori.

Sounds Of Silence (Columbia, 1966) contiene l'hit e parte del materiale di Song Book, in pratica materiale del 1962-65.

Parsley Sage Rosemary And Thyme (Columbia, 1966) e` il primo album a mostrare una personalita` artistica: Scarborough Fair (1968) apre l'album con il suo delicato intreccio di vocalizzi su un dimesso, tintinnante accompagnamento di clavicembalo, triangoli e chitarra (un capolavoro di produzione dovuto al primo registratore a otto tracce), For Emily da` libero sfogo al romanticismo di Simon, 59th Street Bridge Song e` un esperimento naive con i ritmi brillanti, Homeward Bound (1966) fonde il pop con il country delle praterie, Dangling Conversation, A Poem On The Underground Wall e Patterns compongono un piu` conscio affresco sociale. Nessuna di queste canzoni fa concorrenza agli hit dell'anno prima, ma l'insieme compone un piccolo testamento spirituale di Simon.

Mrs. Robinson (1968), un ritornello beat sul ritmo incalzante delle chitarre, contribui` ad aumentare il prestigio generazionale del duo, facendo da colonna sonora al film "The Graduate" di Mike Nichols, la storia di un adolescente alienato alla ricerca di un sentimento vero, nella quale si riconobbero decine di milioni di giovani.
America (1968), sottolineata dal ritornello stridulo di un organetto, culminava invece in un enfatico finale sinfonico e preannunciava una maggiore complessita'. Erano le due colonne dell'album Bookends (Columbia, 1968), che peraltro contiene anche canzoni sofisticate come Fakin' It, A Hazy Shade Of Winter, At The Zoo, e dimostra le ambizioni del duo in fase di produzione (in particolare gli overdub di canto).

L'apice di arrangiamenti venne raggiunto con il gospel orchestrale in crescendo di Bridge Over Troubled Water (1969), tour de force di produzione (grazie a un registratore a sedici tracce), derivato dalla canzone gospel Mary Don't You Weep (1955) degli Swan Silvertones, che esagero` la formula e che l'anno dopo diede anche il titolo a uno degli album piu` venduti di tutti i tempi (nove milioni di copie). Sullo stesso album figurano il soul psichedelico The Boxer (1969, una delle prime canzoni registrate a sedici tracce), con una tromba rinascimentale, un effetto percussivo che rende marziale il "la-la la-la-la" del ritornello, e un finale cosmico per sezione d'archi, il folk andino El Condor Pasa, per flauto e orchestrina latina, e il soul da party di Cecilia, apice degli esperimenti ritmici di Simon (con xilofoni, clapping, stomping e grancasse), brani che avevano poco in comune con il resto del folk e del rock di quegli anni. Le canzoni dei Simon & Garfunkel erano diventate celebri per le melodie, ma in realta` si distinguevano dalla massa del rock e del folk soprattutto per il sound elegante, intricato e sofisticato.

Greatest Hits (CBS, 1972) comprende tutti gli hit.

Quando Simon e Garfunkel si separarono, fu quasi una tragedia per i ragazzi che erano praticamente cresciuti passo passo con le loro agiografie adolescenziali.

Simon aveva due doti che ne avevano fatto l'interprete naturale dell'alienazione giovanile: un poetico culto della solitudine e la capacita` di esprimere tenera malinconia in musica. Il fervente populismo e il sobrio fatalismo delle sue confessioni toccarono il cuore di buoni e cattivi, come preghiere universali. Nessuno seppe cogliere lo spirito della gioventu' media americana di quell'epoca come lui.

Paul Simon era stato la vera anima del duo, di quel "suono del silenzio" che aveva cullato i sogni e asciugato le lacrime di un'intera generazione.

A partire dall'album omonimo del 1972, depresso ed eclettico, Paul Simon continuo` da solo a proporre quella forma di easy-listening introspettivo. Libero della pastoie del folksinger e delle armonie vocali, Simon si concentro` su cio` che lo aveva sempre attratto di piu`: i ritmi e le melodie dei paesi esotici. A ben guardare, molti dei suoi successi erano gia` influenzati dal terzo mondo. Nella sua opera solista Simon ebbe semplicemente modo di approfondire quell'idea.

Sul primo album figurano cosi` il reggae di Mother And Child Reunion e il il salsa di Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard, mentre il jubilee di Loves Me Like A Rock, il blues di St Judy's Comet, la solenne American Tune e il ragtime da saloon di Kodachrome impreziosiscono l'eclettico There Goes Rhymin' Simon (Columbia, 1973), che e` di fatto un album di musica nera.

Con Still Crazy After All These Years (1975) il magisterio dei suoi arrangiamenti giunse a vertici narcissistici, continuando a produrre canzoni-spettacolo come Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover.

Nel 1980 Simon scrisse la sceneggiatura e recito` nel film One Tricky Pony, da cui venne tratta Late In The Evening. Nel 1981 Simon e Garfunkel tennero un concerto all'aperto al Central Park di New York che attiro` una folla record di 500.000 persone.

I vari alter ego di Simon (il musicologo del folklore esotico, il teenager innocente e sognatore, e il cronista delle tragedie dell'umanita`) trovarono un suggestivo punto di equilibrio in Heart And Bones (1983), album sofisticato e maturo che si affida a partiture d'avanguardia (Late Great Johnny Ace) come a doo-wop anacronistici (Rene` And Georgette Magritte e che suggella vent'anni di ricerche eterodosse in ballate garbate e discrete come Song About The Moon e Train In The Distance. Ovviamente fu il suo album piu` criticato e meno venduto.

In realta` era il preludio a Graceland (1986), ciclo di canzoni liriche, commosse e umanitarie, che lo impose definitivamente fra i grandi "autori" della musica senza confini. L'epica apocalittica di Boy In The Bubble, pellegrinaggio affranto fra le macerie dell'umanita`, potrebbe essere il suo capolavoro. Il suo testamento spirituale e` invece Graceland, luminosa preghiera di redenzione e visione metafisica che mutua la struttura dal country e dal gospel. Una "groove" della giungla, You Can Call Me Al, fece furore persino in discoteca.
Si tratta di composizioni che nascono dall'innesto dello scarno cristallino folk-rock di Simon sul pulsante "funk jive" dei neri sudafricani.

Negotiations (CBS, 1988) e` un'antologia.

Nell'arco di vent'anni Simon si e` imposto come uno dei piu` abili e sofisticati scrittori di testi del rock, capace di condensare in pochi versi emozioni tanto semplici quanto universali, caricandole di un'aura al tempo stesso trascendente e profetica. Le sue non sono canzoni, sono parabole bibliche. Quando quella dialettica si e` sposata anche a elementi sonori di altre culture, quelle parabole sono diventate ancor piu` serie.

La delicata introspezione urbana, le umili ma profonde vignette di vita quotidiana, le epiche professioni di sgomento umanitario hanno in comune un intenso senso di compassione per le tragedie, personali e pubbliche, dell'umanita`.

The Rhythm Of the Saints (CBS, 1990) does to Brazilian music what Graceland did to African music: it takes the rhythm, it turns it into a cultural icon, and it grafts that icon into the stem of simple rock and folk songs. Simon's simple and naive spirit redeems the pagan, ritual, primitive nature of the rhythm, and views the universal message of the civilization that produced it with the eyes of a Christian prophet. As with Graceland, the rhythms pre-existed the songs. Simon spent two years assembling his repertory of rhythms before committing the stories to them. The hypnotic grooves of Obvious Child are the essence of the album. Can't Run But, Spirit Voices and Further To Fly populate the rhythm of sound effects and words, but can't escape the logic of a music that was born as a rhythm. Simon also fails to deliver the touching requiem for poverty that is certainly in his heart: dirges such as Born At The Right Time sound artificial where the stream of consciousness of Boy In The Bubble truly felt like a cry for a lost eden. This is a miracle of production, but not a miracle of inspiration.

In August 1991, Paul Simon managed to break all records for a live concert: 750,000 people showed up to hear him sing.

Songs From The Capeman (Warner, 1997) was Simon's first Broadway musical (the score mainly harks back to the 1950s).

You're the One (Warner, 1998) abandons his ambitious third-world program, and returns Simon to simple, humble, domestic themes.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Mauro Jimmy)

"The Rythm of the saints" (CBS, 1990) fa alla musica brasiliana ciò che "Graceland" fa alla musica africana: prende il ritmo, lo trasforma in un’icona culturale e trapianta quest’icona nel tema di semplici canzoni folk e rock. Lo spirito semplice e candido di Simon redime la natura pagana, rituale, primitiva del ritmo e osserva il messaggio universale della civiltà che lo produce attraverso gli occhi di un profeta cristiano. Come in "Graceland", i ritmi esistono prima delle canzoni. Simon trascorre due anni assemblando il suo repertorio di ritmi prima ancora di legarli a delle storie.

I grooves ipnotici di "Obvious Child" sono l’essenza dell’album. "Can’t run but", "Spirit Voices" e "Further to fly" popolano il ritmo di parole ed effetti sonori, ma non possono sfuggire alla logica di una musica nata come ritmo. Simon, inoltre, non riesce a trasmettere quel toccante requiem per la povertà che è certamente nel suo cuore: canti funebri come "Born at the right time" sembrano artificiali mentre il flusso di coscienza di "Boy in the bubble" sembrava veramente un pianto per un eden perduto. Questo è un miracolo di produzione, ma non un miracolo di ispirazione.

Nell’agosto del 1991, Paul Simon riesce a battere tutti i record per un concerto dal vivo: 750.000 persone si presentano per ascoltarlo cantare.

"Songs from the capeman" (Warner, 1997) è il primo musical di Simon a Broadway (la partitura principalmente ritorna sugli anni ’50).

"You’re the one" (Warner, 1998) abbandona il suo ambizioso progetto sul terzo mondo e Simon ritorna a temi semplici, umili, domestici.

After an eight-year hiatus, Simon released Surprise (2006) that replaced the traditional Simon pan-ethnic arrangements with producer Brian Eno's busy, multi-layered textures (something similar to what Eno did for David Bowie in the 1970s). However, the overall tone was one of calm, pensive, domestic rumination, almost the opposite of the vigorous, aching, internationalism of the past (Another Galaxy).

Paul Simon's music had always been "geographic" in that it evoked places around the world, fueled by a constant sense of distance, and also geographic in the sense that it mapped the emotional, existential territory of his era. This was true at an even higher degree on So Beautiful or So What (Universal, 2011), a humble fresco with philosophical overtones that roamed from Africa (The Afterlife) to India (Dazzling Blue), from country (Love Is Eternal Sacred Light) to pop (Love and Hard Times). Unfortunately it contained an unusual amount of filler. It was brief, but it should have been even shorter, maybe just a four-song EP.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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