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Tina and I saw Paul Simon's Farewell Concert at the Prudential Center the other week. We both thought it was one of the very best concerts we've ever attended—and that includes at least two concerts with Simon & Garfunkel decades ago.
Paul Simon was always as much a poet as a lyricist and songwriter, which is not something you can say about even the greatest lyricists, like Lennon and McCartney, whose words only occasionally reached the realm of sheer poetry. Simon does that almost every time, in every song. I knew that before the concert, but his words leaped even more out at me than I recall in the past. He has a nonchalant profundity almost rolling off his tongue, from "Call Me Al" and "Late in the Evening" to "Crazy After All These Years" (his line "I fear I may do some damage one fine day" has always been one of my all-time favorites).
And his new songs have it too. The fun and sass of "Rewrite" is as good as "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," the haunting beauty of "Questions for the Angels" as memorable as "For Emily," and the keen watercolor imagery of "Rene and Georgette Magritte with their Dog After the War" is right up there with the brush strokes of "Hazy Shade of Winter."
And if the music and singing and band weren't enough, Simon's repartee between songs was worth the price of admission. He talked about a song he gave to someone else, and he now wanted to reclaim as his own. I thought he was perhaps talking about "Red Rubber Ball," which he wrote and was a big hit for The Cyrkle. He wasn't. He was talking about "Bridge Over Troubled Water," the big Simon & Garfunkel hit, mostly sung by just Garfunkel. Talk about a dis—I don't why Simon harbors such anger for his former partner, but this was a rapier thrust all the way back to 1970.
But in many ways the best line was what Simon had to say about these Trumpian times we live in, without mentioning his name. "Don't give up," he said quietly to a cheering audience. And then he sang an especially meaningful "American Tune" ... "I don't know a soul whose not been battered ..." And we all were tearing not cheering, then applauding.
You know what—I don't think this and his other concluding performances on his farewell tour will be his last. The audience had too much groove, and Simon far too much joy and commitment to his performance, for that to be true.
Look for my review here whenever he does his next series of concerts.