Paul Simon on his “trial-and-error” musical career


Singer-songwriter Paul Simon says he’s not trying to push the envelope with his first album in five years, but just following his musical instincts.

CBS News

Paul Simon has recently released his 13th solo album -- his first in five years -- and is now on an extensive tour of Europe. The 75-year-old singer-songwriter is at an age when other artists might be content to sit back and play their greatest hits, rather than push to create new, different work.

Simon, however, says he’s just following his musical instincts. “I’m not trying to push the envelope,” Simon tells Cowan in an interview for CBS’ “Sunday Morning,” to be broadcast November 6. “I have no agenda other than to follow what my ear tells me is interesting.”


Simon has been performing for more than 50 years, and has written some of the most enduring songs of his generation, from “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” performed with Art Garfunkel, to his solo work, including “Slip Slidin’ Away.” His new album, “Stranger to Stranger,” has received nearly unanimous critical acclaim.

“It’s very much trial-and-error,” Simon tells Cowan of his musical output. “And I’ve learned to have a lot of patience with the errors. And a lot of errors!”

Simon has no plans to pull back on touring, either, although he admits it is something he’s thought about.

“What I’m thinking of is how to end things well -- not just a career, but the whole thing, the whole life,” Simon said. “And if I could do it gracefully or beautifully, well, I would be very grateful.”

To watch Paul Simon perform “Wristband,” from the album “Stranger to Stranger,” click on the video player below.

Paul Simon - Wristband by PaulSimonVEVO on YouTube

While Simon says planning for his demise isn’t something he dwells on, he doesn’t avoid the subject, either. “It’s not my favorite go-to subject, you know, when I want to tear myself up,” he said. “But on the other hand, you know, it’s probably worth it to be at least somewhat prepared for how to end well, how to end the song well, how to end a career well, how to end everything, if you can, if you’re fortunate enough.”

In the wide-ranging interview, Simon also talks about his early days starting out with Garfunkel, their legendary 1981 concert in New York’s Central Park, and his years as a solo artist.

The Emmy Award-winning “CBS Sunday Morning,” hosted by Jane Pauley, is broadcast on CBS Sundays beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET. Executive producer is Rand Morrison.

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