Paul Simon is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Paul Simon in his guise as a solo artist. It was released in January 1972, nearly two years after he split up with longtime musical partner Art Garfunkel. The album represented the definitive announcement of the breakup of Simon & Garfunkel. Originally released on Columbia Records, it was then issued under the Warner Bros. label and is now back with Columbia through Sony.
After Simon & Garfunkel split in 1970, Simon taught songwriting classes at New York University during the summer of 1971. Among the students he taught were the Roche Sisters, Maggie and Terre, and singer-songwriter Melissa Manchester who remembers that as a teacher, Simon was nervous. He listened to the students' songs and offered suggestions and criticism, often dissecting the lyrics and drawing comparisons with his own work, while offering autobiographical insights into how his own work progressed and his sources of inspiration.
Then Simon traveled to San Francisco to record some demos, and began to work with different musical styles with the purpose of releasing a solo album. Paul Simon was, musically, a direct follow-up from his work with Art Garfunkel. The song writing quality revealed on some of the tunes from the album Bridge over Troubled Water (for example, "The Only Living Boy in New York" or "Song for the Asking") was now extended and combined with a new appreciation for the album as a complete and single work of art. Part of these achievements were due to the experiments with new sounds for Simon, including latin music, jazz, blues, and also reggae, with the song "Mother and Child Reunion" (recorded in Kingston, Jamaica) becoming one of the first attempts on this genre by a white musician. Guest musicians on the record included Stephane Grappelli, Ron Carter, and Airto Moreira.
Lyrically, the album was particularly notable for its inclusion of many autobiographical elements. Several songs on the album make reference directly or indirectly to his rocky marriage to Peggy (nee Harper), which ended in divorce in 1975. Troubles with the marriage figure prominently on songs such as "Run That Body Down" (in which both "Paul" and "Peg" are mentioned by name) and "Congratulations". Other themes include drugs and adolescence, especially in urban areas.
Full article ▸