Paul Simon is a New Yorker. That's for sure. The city of New York percolates in his music, and New York imagery permeates his lyrics.
—Glenn Buhr, musician
Composer/performer Glenn Buhr brings his musical talents to the music of the great Paul Simon. His concert, Before and After Graceland: A tribute to Paul Simon with Glenn Buhr's Broken Songs Band will be part of the Tarbut Festival of Jewish Culture on Saturday, November 24.
SCENE asked Buhr to give us some further insight into this American icon:
Just exactly what were Paul Simon and Julio up to down by the schoolyard? What was it that Mama Pajama saw when she rolled out of bed that caused her to run to the police station? Who is Rosie, and when was she crowned Queen of Corona?
We don't know, because Paul Simon won't tell us. And that's his secret weapon. Anytime he's questioned about the unspoken details in his lyrics, he just shrugs and reminds us that he has a poetic license, and that the only thing he'll reveal is what's already there.
People like Paul Simon get to fantasize in public about being an English muffin. They get away with shouting out that they're feeling groovy when they're walking across the 59th Street Bridge. They seek America from the cab of a Greyhound bus. Their prophets are alive and broke, and spread the word on subway walls.
Broken Songs Band will perform A Tribute to Paul Simon (Jennifer Buhr)
We get some hints from time to time. (Not just allegations, or incidents and accidents.) Composer/conductor Pierre Boulez met Paul Simon and his wife Peggy at a party once. Boulez kept calling Paul 'Al' and Peggy 'Betty'. Who but a great American lyricist could turn that Old World arrogance into one of the most innovative songs ever written?
Poetry is Paul Simon's art. Poetry, melded with melody, great guitar playing, and soulful singing. Sometimes it's blank verse, like most of the Bookends
album. But just as often the music is in the rhythm of the words themselves, and the timing of the cheeky rhymes: Hop on the bus, Gus; No need to discuss much....Simon's work in the '70s and '80s foreshadowed the huge wave of Rap music and Hip Hop that hit us all after that.
Paul Simon is a New Yorker. That's for sure. The city of New York percolates in his music, and New York imagery permeates his lyrics. The orchestrations in "Old Friends" and "Still Crazy After all These Years" channel George Gershwin's own musical musings on the great city. In his lyrics, he counts cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, shows us the tenement halls and subway walls, invokes Joltin' Joe Dimaggio, and from time to time, reminds us how lonely it can be, even when you're in a big city.
Art Garfunkle ('Tom' in their original band 'Tom and Jerry') flew to Mexico to film Catch 22
, leaving Paul back in New York. Lonely I guess, but inspired. That hermitage gave us one of the greatest songs and albums of all time, "Bridge Over Troubled Water."