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The student news site of Tuscarora High School

The student news site of Tuscarora High School

Titan Times

The student news site of Tuscarora High School

Titan Times

“Paul Simon” (1972) Review

Image Source: Apple Music

Every time I listen to this album, I find something new to take away from it.

Released at the very beginning of 1972, “Paul Simon” was the singer-songwriter’s first creative output following his less-than-amicable departure from the duo Simon & Garfunkel in 1970. Gone is the bombastic, finely-wrought production of S&G’s final album, “Bridge over Troubled Water,” and in its place is something very different—Simon’s divine gift for songwriting, however, remains the same.

I first heard “Paul Simon” towards the beginning of last year—perhaps not long after its 50th anniversary—and I didn’t quite understand it yet. Sure, “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” was the hit single that everyone’s heard a thousand times, “Duncan” was one of most beautiful songs I’d ever heard and “Run That Body Down” was one of Simon’s sweet little earworms that really stuck with me—especially that kooky little guitar solo in the middle.

But I really couldn’t take much more from it. Most of the songs sounded like demos, benign little ditties patched together in the studio and not much else besides that. As one reviewer put it, a “way of keeping [Simon’s] hand in while Garfunkel makes movies,” referring to one of the driving factors that caused the duo to split for good.

Slowly, after many relistens, the album’s other songs that I initially didn’t care for started to make sense to me. “Everything Put Together Falls Apart” was one of them, a song about the many negative effects of drug abuse. Featuring almost solely Simon’s gorgeous vocals and acoustic guitar accompaniment, the song is a prime example of how talented Simon can be even without his former harmonizing partner Art Garfunkel. Why include anything else when his effortless chord structures and tender lyrics very much stand for themselves?

Song topics range from adolescent experiences to overworked husbands to New York City paranoia to “the old Detroit perfume.” Simon’s knack for songwriting is in top form on “Paul Simon” and one of the reasons why I return to this album so much—his sketches of people, places and experiences are really a sight (or rather, a sound) to behold.

The diversity of this album is also something I feel is important to mention. Complementing Simon’s nearly bare guitar and vocal songs are “Mother and Child Reunion,” “Duncan” and “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”—well-produced, musically-vibrant hits later released as singles. There is truly something for everyone to be found on this album. There’s even a fiddle-driven instrumental, “Hobo’s Blues,” a silly little tune that helps in establishing the central themes of side two: weary travels and poverty-stricken urban follies.

Simon’s nearly-impeccable discography is hard to beat and filled with many of my all time favorite albums—”Hearts and Bones,” “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon,” “Graceland”—but “Paul Simon” will always stand out as my favorite. I highly recommend everyone give it a listen.




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