Fifty Ways To Leave Your Label: Paul Simon Calling It Quits

Paul Simon is calling it quits. The diminutive songwriter says 61 years in the music biz is enough, and he plans to retire soon. After his current tour wraps up in Dublin, Ireland, later this summer, the 74-year-old singer intends to “drift and travel” for a year, he told the New York Times. He said that showbiz no longer interests him.

“It’s an act of courage to let go. I am going to see what happens if I let go. Then I’m going to see, who am I? Or am I just this person that was defined by what I did? And if that’s gone, if you have to make up yourself, who are you?”

If this is the end of the showbiz road for Paul Simon, he’s leaving on a high note. Just a few weeks ago, his new album, Stranger to Stranger, debuted at number three and made it to the top of Billboard magazine’s Americana and Folk charts. It’s the first time since the 1990s that a Paul Simon record garnered so much attention. Stranger to Stranger is Simon’s 13th solo album and features a snappy little number called “Wristband.”

Paul Simon told New Music Express the following.

“I don’t know a recording artist who wouldn’t be elated to have a Number 1 album. A big thank you to everyone who thought enough of the music to go out and buy it. I hope it stands up to multiple listens.”

Paul Simon’s recent North American tour wrapped up at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in his hometown of Queens, New York, in June. The tour in support of Stranger to Stranger will resume four days after Simon’s 75th birthday at the O2 arena in Prague, Czech Republic, on October 17. After that, Simon is slated to appear in Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, France, the United Kingdom, and other European venues.

A brief history of Rhymin’ Simon

Born in New Jersey on October 13, 1941, Paul Frederic Simon grew up in the New York suburb of Forest Hills, Queens. His mother, Belle, was an English teacher. His father, Louis, was a bandleader who appeared on the Jackie Gleason and Arthur Godfrey TV shows, according to Paul Simon’s blurb at Biography.com. As a grade school student in Queens, Simon met “the most famous singer” in the neighborhood — a fellow fourth-grader named Arthur Garfunkel. The two formed a musical duo called “Tom and Jerry” while attending Forest Hills High School. The pair earned $15 per song as demo singers at New York’s renowned Brill Building. In 1957, the duo recorded a Paul Simon composition called “Hey Schoolgirl” and scored their first hit record while still teenagers in high school.

The duo performed “Hey Schoolgirl” on American Bandstand, then went their separate ways. Garfunkel studied art history at Columbia University, while Paul Simon remained local, attending Queens College and continuing to work part time at the Brill Building. Some time later, the pair met up again, hired producer Tom Wilson, and recorded an album entitled Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M under their real names. The album did not chart, but it did debut a seminal version of the Paul Simon composition “The Sound of Silence.”

The duo’s second album, Sounds of Silence, fared much better, spawning several hit songs including “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.” In 1968, Simon and Garfunkel were awarded a Grammy for Best Contemporary Vocal Duo for “Mrs. Robinson.” The song also earned a Grammy for Record of the Year. In 1970, Simon and Garfunkel broke up at what many consider the peak of their careers.

In 2006, Time magazine named Paul Simon on its “100 People Who Shaped the World” list, noting his talent for writing “achingly rational” pop songs. Time explained Simon’s success as a songwriter.

“His words stay in the cynical, witty headspace of the native New Yorker. Simon’s music wanders the globe in search of a groove.”

[Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP Images]