Paul Simon Felt Just “Fine” With Ending His Album Career

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One of America’s finest musicians has spoken of his decision to stop making new albums, admitting he is “fine” with it. Following the release of 2016’s Stranger to Stranger, Paul Simon announced his retirement – bringing an end to his eight-decade-long career.

Although the singer-songwriter would later release In the Blue Light, it consisted only of a collection of reworked archive tracks. Paul also completed a farewell tour in 2018 with a hometown show in New York and has continued to make sporadic appearances since. There has been new music in the form of Seven Psalms, which featured in his just-released audiobook; Miracle and Wonder: Conversations with Paul Simon.

After I finished the album Stranger to Stranger, it was like, literally a click that said, ‘I’m done. I think I’m done,’” Paul recalled in a book excerpt. “I said, ‘I don’t think that I can do this any better than I’m doing it right now. I think I can do it just as well, but it takes me three years typically to make these kinds of albums. And since I don’t think I can make an album any better than I’m making it now, I think I’d rather spend my three years traveling.’

Paul thought the only “logical” thing he could think of to make a future work better is to “shut down the process of how I make things now – a process that has been evolving since I’m 12. I would have thought that it would have been something that would have been upsetting. ‘Whoa, you’re done!’ There’s something scary about that. But I didn’t feel upset at all. I felt fine – you know, fine.”

Paul’s audiobook had been produced alongside author, Malcolm Gladwell, and also features contributions from Sting, Herbie Hancock, and others. Recently speaking of the project, Gladwell said the “puzzle is, this guy was relevant in every decade since the 1960s”.

I was trying to answer the question, ‘What is different about Paul Simon?’… “He’s the most un-rock-star rock star. Paul is surprisingly down-to-earth and approachable. Even if he wasn’t the most successful musician of his generation, he’d be the same person.”

Earlier this year, Paul Simon sold his entire back catalogue to Sony Music Publishing. Although the value of the deal was not disclosed, Simon said he was “pleased” to have Sony Music Publishing as the “custodian of my songs for the coming decades”.