An Open Letter To Paul Simon RE: So Beautiful Or So What

 

Paul,

I’ve been listening to your new record, and I gotta say, it sounds great. In fact, it reminds me a lot of your last big record, You’re The One. You know what? You’re The One reminded me quite a bit of another record you did a while back…

Now, maybe I’m speaking out of turn here (I mean, what do I know, right? I’m just some punk kid with a blog), but it seems to me that you haven’t put out a really wholly original album in a really long time. The last one that really caught a spark and seemed fresh and new was probably Graceland. Jesus, Paul. That album came out in 1986. Twenty-five years seems like an awful long time between original ideas.

Don’t get me wrong, Paul. I’m a life-long fan. Whatever half-assed cash grab you make, you know I’m down. What I really want, though, is for you to come alive again as a performer and writer. Recently I read a story where you had said that you wrote a song and wanted Dylan to sing on it with you, but he never responded to your request. You were confounded, but there is a reason, and here it is:

At 70 years old, Bob Dylan continues to grow as an artist and try new things (even if sometimes they sound like he’s rehashing some of his own material and mixing up the chord progression or something). He’d much rather work with the kids of today like Jack White and Mark Ronson come to mind. If he wanted to work with a guy with old ideas, he’d go back into the studio with Don DeVito.

The problem for you Paul, I think, is that for thirty years, no one has said anything really negative about your work. The worst I ever hear about your albums is, “It’s not his best.” Well saying it isn’t the best work from a guy who gave us some of the greatest records of the 60’s and, maybe a top three of the 80’s with Graceland doesn’t mean much. It’s like watching one of the games where Oscar Robertson DIDN’T have a triple double, in ’61-’62,  and saying it was below average.

Well, it pains me to be the one that has to do this Paul, but I think it’s time to hang it up for a while. You’ve been touring a lot the past few years, coming out with a new album every three to five years may be too much for you. In the 60’s and 70’s you put out so much great material…maybe your brain just lost the ability to create new ideas because you haven’t given it the proper rest.

You’re going to be 70 next year, Paul. Maybe it’s time to start thinking legacy. Do you really want to continue to put out this mundane old folks music, or do you want to put out one more great album that people will remember? Don’t worry Paul. You aren’t alone in this. The Rolling Stones haven’t put out a really good album since 1972, so you’re still one up on them.

Sincerely,

The Staff of Music.Defined.

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