Coolness Is Overrated Click here to read it on the Forward's website
David Kaufmann | Tue. Jun 05, 2007
Let’s face it: Paul Simon, who was awarded the first George and Ira Gershwin Prize for Popular Song and was feted with a gala concert in Washington, D.C., on May 23, was never really hip. He was always just a bit too sincere, a bit too dorky, and that’s probably why his music — which has won seven Grammys and has been nominated for several more — has worn so well.( Collapse )
It makes perfect sense, then, that the Library of Congress should bestow the first Gershwin Prize to a sophisticated Jewish songwriter from New York.
Needless to say, there is always a hint of the funereal to awards like this. Up to last year, it would not have been unfair to say that Simon had passed his prime. Although albums like “You’re The One” are well crafted, they lack the punch and interest of his best work of the ’70s and early ’80s.
Then, last spring, Simon released the aptly named “Surprise,” an unexpected collaboration with producer Brian Eno. It’s an eye-opening effort, particularly Simon’s uncharacteristically ferocious performance on “Outrageous.” If “Surprise” is anything to go by, Simon can look forward to more than just an illustrious past.
In the not-so-final analysis, Simon’s career demonstrates that coolness is overrated. Listen to “Surprise.” Listen again to his best albums, to “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Paul Simon,” “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon,” “Still Crazy After All These Years,” and “Graceland.” They might not be hip, but they are the unacknowledged soundtrack of many a boomer’s life.David Kaufmann teaches literature at George Mason University.
Copyright © 2007 Forward Association, inc.
I've said it before, but I must reiterate ~ since it was not mentioned in the article, and since so many regard it as inferior due to its association with a film that did not fare so well ~ that the eppylover's most fave Paul Simon album is One Trick Pony.
I believe ladyeffingbroke agrees with me on this one; if my memory serves me, she had once mentioned that album defined the year 1980 for her. Or sumpin lie cat.