Paul Simon said his decision to stop making new albums came with “literally a click” in 2016, and he felt “fine” about the move.
The beloved singer-songwriter retired after completing that year’s LP, Stranger to Stranger, although he later released In the Blue Light, a collection of reworked archive tracks. In 2018 he completed a farewell tour with a hometown show in New York, although he’s made sporadic live appearances since then. A new song, “Seven Psalms,” is featured in his just-released audiobook Miracle and Wonder: Conversations with Paul Simon.
“After I finished the album Stranger to Stranger, it was like, literally a click that said, ‘I’m done. I think I’m done,’” Simon, 80, recalled in an excerpt from the book provided to Rolling Stone. “I said, ‘I don’t think that I can do this any better than I’m doing it right now. I think I can do it just as well, but it takes me three years typically to make these kinds of albums. And since I don’t think I can make an album any better than I’m making it now, I think I’d rather spend my three years traveling.’”
He continued: “I think the only logical thing that I can think of to make a future work better is to shut down the process of how I make things now, which is a process that has been evolving since I’m 12. I would have thought that it would have been something that would have been upsetting. ‘Whoa, you’re done!’ There’s something scary about that. But I didn’t feel upset at all. I felt fine – you know, fine.”
Miracle and Wonder was produced alongside author Malcolm Gladwell, and also features contributions from Sting, Herbie Hancock, Rosanne Cash and others. “The puzzle is this guy was relevant in every decade since the 1960s,” Gladwell recently said of the project. “I was trying to answer the question, ‘What is different about Paul Simon?’… “He’s the most un-rock-star rock star. Paul is surprisingly down-to-earth and approachable. Even if he wasn’t the most successful musician of his generation, he’d be the same person.”
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