Paul Simon is one lucky man and his time with Art Garfunkel as the great Simon & Garfunkel duo produced many timeless classics. After that relationship dissolved, Paul Simon began a fruitful career as a solo artist, writing many more songs that sit very well amongst some of the best songs that rock and roll has to offer. Simon is a lucky man because he had found a steadfast audience that adored his creative output. The new collection, Songwriter, is a celebration of that magic, if not a little disjointed in offered tracks.
You may be dismayed to find that there are some hit songs missing. There are no “Loves Me Like A Rock,” “Me And Julio Down By the School Yard,” “Slip Sliding Away,” or surprisingly, “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.” Instead, Songwriter represents Paul Simon’s selective mind rather than a simple collection of accumulated and successful Paul Simon “hits.” For you, there are many of the endless parade of Paul Simon ‘best-of’ collections. To be fairly complete, you should seek out The Essential Paul Simon.
The two-CD set allows Paul Simon the freedom to return to his music, career-wise, and select the songs that meant the most to him, the songs he may have been most proud having written. If you appreciate the mind of an artist, and his ability to craft a song, then you should pay close attention to this set as it celebrates Paul Simon on a much closer level.
There are 32 songs on Songwriter. It begins with a different approach to his Simon & Garfunkel classics by offering them as live tracks from two of his concerts (“The Sound Of Silence,” “The Boxer”). The most famous of the Simon and Garfunkel tunes, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is a song not sung by him but rather by Aretha Franklin, lending a unique perspective of the song. The rest are originals drawn from his many solo efforts.
It’s important to be a Paul Simon fan for this set to work with you. If you are, then you may find the collection of songs to be a brilliant selection, if not exactly to your liking. But then, what collections are? The set is completed with a 48-page booklet filled with essays, lyrics, photos, and credits. Songwriter is meant to be enjoyed as a personal trip through Paul Simon’s career...with Paul Simon.