Watch Paul Simon’s Full Austin City Limits Performance Online



paulsimoncitylimitsMusicians with aspirations of a 50+ year career in Rock ought to look no further than Paul Simon for one of the better templates to follow. First, hit it big time with the distinct sound of your original band. Twenty years later, long after your band has split, completely re-invent yourself with a brand new sound. Spend the following thirty years playing with various combinations of your old and new sounds, releasing new albums every five years or so, leaving no big 10- or 20-year gaps in your resume. It’s a formula for staying creative and fresh and relevant.

Of course, 1986’s breakthrough Graceland wasn’t a complete 180 for Simon. He always had an affinity for unusual rhythms as heard in songs like “Cecelia” and “Fakin’ It”. But he built on top of that and he learned and he grew with the help of African, Brazilian and other great musicians from around the world. Today there’s not a musician in the world who can combine complex rhythms and melodies and lyrics as skillfully as Paul Simon.

Check it out below, or watch the show on PBS:

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This Austin City Limits concert, recorded on May 12 this year, reveals a mature artist who can still deliver the goods, and still unafraid to take risks. It’s a tremendous show put on by Simon and his brilliant 9-piece band. At this point, Simon’s rhythms don’t sound African or Brazilian or Zydeco or jazz or old-school R&B, although they contain all of those flavors. These days, they sound like Paul Simon rhythms.

He’s not the same artist that he was ten years ago. Watch his performance of the brilliant song “Rewrite” from the 2012 album So Beautiful Or So What. A song of bittersweet reflection and regret, Simon delivers much of it sing-speaking, gesticulating, and not even playing his guitar. He’s like Chance The Rapper delivering a flow of exceptionally beautiful words from the other side of the demographic divide.

And I love the way he performed golden oldies like “Homeward Bound” and “The Sound Of Silence”. Although his band is capable of great backing vocals, he leaves the Garfunkel harmony part unsung while he goes in and out of the songs’ familiar melodies on his own. That shows respect for the songs and respect for Artie, whether he deserves it or not.

This concert is part of Simon’s current tour in support of his wonderful new album Stranger To Stranger, his 13th solo album. He performs two songs here from the new album, the pop confection “Wristband” and the voodoo-weird “Werewolf”, and neither of them is quite like anything he’s done before. Go get the album, and watch this video before it’s taken down on October 29, to see how a master gets it done.

Show Setlist:

The Boy In The Bubble
That Was Your Mother
Rewrite
Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard
Wristband
Homeward Bound
Werewolf
The Cool Cool River
Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes
You Can Call Me Al
The Sounds Of Silence

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