The Paul Simon Songbook

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The Paul Simon Songbook is the first solo album by Paul Simon. It was recorded in London and released in the United Kingdom in 1965 and was supposedly deleted in 1979 at Simon's request. It was made available in the USA as part of the LP box set Paul Simon: Collected Works (1981). The album was produced by Reginald Warburton and Stanley West as CBS Records LP 62579; remastered CD Columbia/Legacy 90281.


Album background

The Paul Simon Songbook was recorded while Paul Simon, who had previously worked in the rock-'n-roll genre, was in Europe trying to make a living as a folk singer in the mid-1960s. Simon made several trips to England in 1964 and 1965, spending most of his time performing in small clubs and theaters. During 1965 he is known to have played in Paris and Copenhagen, along with London and numerous other locations in the United Kingdom.

In 1964, Simon and Art Garfunkel had recorded a folk-inspired album for Columbia Records in the United States called Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., as Simon & Garfunkel. While Simon was touring and appearing on radio shows in England in 1965 (sometimes with Art Garfunkel), he began to receive attention from fans. At the time Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. had not yet been released in Britain (and would not be until 1968). Simon's other recordings then available in Britain consisted of about three 45 rpm singles released on various labels, two of which were rock-'n-roll-inspired recordings with Garfunkel under the name Tom & Jerry. The other was representative of his experiments in folk, but had been released in 1964 under the pseudonym Paul Kane. He was still under contract to Columbia, so he could record for their British label, CBS Records, and therefore decided to record a set of tracks for release to his folk audience. The Paul Simon Songbook was the result.

Recording and releases

Simon recorded the album over several dates in June 1965. Most of the songs required several takes. He only had one microphone for both his voice and his guitar, which is why he can be heard stamping his feet to the rhythm on "The Sound of Silence" as well the alternate take of "I Am A Rock".

There is nothing on the album that seems to immediately point to the producers, Warburton and West, having anything major to do with it, musically. It seems that almost nothing is known by the general public of Simon's relationship with either one.

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