Flipping through some of my podcast subscriptions I noticed that I had downloaded a Barnes & Noble One-On-One interview with Paul Simon. I guess he is on tour promoting the new Lyrics 1964-2008 book that presents the lyrics for every song for that he wrote for that time period. Since I like listening to interviews while I work, I hit play.
The next hour was a relatively enjoyable one with Simon talking less about his book and giving listeners more of a trip through his early career and songwriting process. I always find it interesting how older artists can ride both sides of the fence when talking about music. They touch on the whole "I don't know where it comes from" idea but they can also intellectualize it like nobody's business. Listening to Simon talk about how the second you hit your first chord while writing a song you've already committed yourself to a certain pattern. The first note you sing will inevitably be a note within that chord and it will also affect your word choice when you write the lyric.
In some respects, breaking it down like that might be a bit of an artistic killjoy, but I love the insight it gives me as a non-musician and, really, I don't think it takes any of the 'mystical' aspects of songwriting away.
I've always been a listener of Simon & Garfunkel but never really gone through their catalogue beyond the Greatest Hits album that everyone has and the odd non-single track here and there. So, I've decided to do some proper exploring and have gone back to Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. and will be working my way up through the years until I hit Bridge Over Troubled Waters. As of this writing, I'm actually a little surprised by the religious content in many of the songs (although I would assume for folk music at that time having a song like "Go Tell It On The Mountain" was nothing unusual) but I have singled out "Bleeker Street" as a fast favourite and find that I prefer the non-electric version of "Sounds of Silence" over the second, better known, version the label released.
Anyway, I highly recommend checking out the interview which can be found here, and I'll post a follow-up on the music when I get a little further in.