Acclaimed music writer Robert Hilburn’s “epic” and “definitive” (Rolling Stone) biography of music icon Paul Simon, written with Simon’s full participation—but without his editorial control—that “reminds us how titanic this musician is” (The Washington Post).
For more than fifty years, Paul Simon has spoken to us in songs about alienation, doubt, resilience, and empathy in ways that have established him as one of the most beloved artists in American pop music history. Songs like “The Sound of Silence,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Still Crazy After All These Years,” and “Graceland” have moved beyond the sales charts and into our cultural consciousness. But Simon is a deeply private person who has said he will not write an autobiography or talk to biographers. Finally, however, he has opened up for Robert Hilburn—for more than one hundred hours of interviews—in this “brilliant and entertaining portrait of Simon that will likely be the definitive biography” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
Over the course of three years, Hilburn conducted in-depth interviews with scores of Paul Simon’s friends, family, colleagues, and others—including ex-wives Carrie Fisher and Peggy Harper, who spoke for the first time—and even penetrated the inner circle of Simon’s long-reclusive muse, Kathy Chitty. The result is a deeply human account of the challenges and sacrifices of a life in music at the highest level. In the process, Hilburn documents Simon’s search for artistry and his constant struggle to protect that artistry against distractions—fame, marriage, divorce, drugs, record company interference, rejection, and insecurity—that have derailed so many great pop figures.
“As engaging as a lively American tune” (People), Paul Simon is a “straight-shooting tour de force…that does thorough justice to this American prophet and pop star” (USA TODAY, four out of four stars). “Read it if you like Simon; read it if you want to discover how talent unfolds itself” (Stephen King).
Music critic Hilburn (Johnny Cash: The Life) delivers an energetic and elegant biography of American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. Drawing on interviews with Simon and his family and friends including ex-wives Carrie Fisher and Peggy Harper Hilburn exhaustively narrates Simon's life, from his discovery of pop music in the 1950s via disc jockey Alan Freed to Simon and Art Garfunkel's success and contentious relationship ("Artie knew Paul wrote the songs and thus controlled the future of the pair," according to manager Mort Lewis) and Simon's successful solo career. Hilburn describes Simon's artistry: his "songwriting would begin with the music... then he'd try to figure out how to express what he was feeling in words." Though Simon often came across as controlling in the studio, according to Hilburn, he was very respectful of other musicians and their time and work, and was generous toward other musicians (he wrote a check to Claude Jeter in gratitude for Jeter's gospel singing, which inspired "Bridge over Troubled Water"). Hilburn's brilliant and entertaining portrait of Simon will likely be the definitive biography.
Nice bio. Nifty anecdotal tales to boot.
Paul Simon biography
A compelling biography of a World icon - talent, passion, intelligence, curiosity, honesty, respect for others, and a work ethic leading to a better world because of his presence. Thank God for Paul Simon.
Homage to A Genius
It is a rare gift the world has been given in PAUL Simon. This loving tribute allows us to get as close to the man behind the awards, adulation, and arrogance—as he would allow. Simon’s contributions to our culture will continue to be discussed and analyzed forever, but it is enough, in this well-written compilation of his life and times, to have listened to Simon’s songs in the most private and intimate times of our own lives.