I’m not at all shy about my love of Paul Simon. If he asked me to marry him tomorrow I’d give Matt a hug, say “Nice to know ya!” and whiz off with Paul.
Paul Simon has been a part of my life since I can remember, begrudgingly at first, I admit. During my youth, I despised all of the music my parents listened to. My mother had a trio of artists she listened to while we cleaned house every Saturday morning: Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, and Simon and Garfunkel. (There were probably others but these are the three that I remember most vividly.) She favored Neil Diamond and, to this day, I can’t hear “Forever in Blue Jeans” without getting a phantom scent of lemon Pledge in my nose. Invite me over, put on a Neil Diamond album and I’ll probably dust your house.
One day during my college years, I got out my mom’s Simon and Garfunkel album and gave it a listen. I heard something in the music I had never heard before. In the song, “The Boxer,” there is a bass harmonica played in the background of the second and final verse. When listening to the vinyl album through enormous headphones, that bass harmonica tickled my eardrums in a way that made me stop and pay attention.
When the song was over, I lifted the needle and carefully put it back in the groove at the beginning of the song and I listened again. This time I listened to the words. And I wept.
I listened again and again and I knew I had fallen. I made it my life’s mission to listen to every song ever written or performed by Paul Simon. Around that time, Graceland had just come out so that was my first choice. I bought it on cassette tape and I listened to it so many times I wore out the cassette. Since then, I’ve compiled an extensive library of Paul’s music and seen him several times in concert.
When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened a Paul Simon exhibit called, “Paul Simon: Words and Music,” I jumped in the car and drove to downtown Cleveland. When I got there I realized it was Sunday and the Browns were playing at home and finding parking was impossible. So I drove by the Rock Hall and went birding instead.
The next weekend, I made the trek back downtown. The wait was worth it. The exhibit was exactly what I hope Heaven is like: Me surrounded by all things Paul. Paul talking, Paul singing, Paul’s guitars and memorabilia strewn about the place. There are several videos of Paul talking about his career and I watched every second. A large screen showed clips from live performances and music videos. (My only criticism is that the clips were too short.)
They even had a video that showed several of Paul’s Saturday Night Live appearances, including the full version of the Thanksgiving Turkey Suit skit, which is still one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. (Sadly, the turkey suit was destroyed and does not appear in the exhibit.)
For the serious Paul Simon fan, and even for the casual listener, this exhibit is time well spent.
Flash photography is a big “no-no” at the Rock Hall so some of my pictures didn’t turn out, but here are a few of my favorites.
Paul and Chevy Chase from the video, “Proof.” I never knew this video existed and looked it up as soon as I got home.
If you don’t live in the Cleveland area, you can get a taste of the experience on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum website.
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