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Rock & Roll Rewind: Paul Simon

c d kaplan is a rock & roll lifer. He's got
stories, lots of stories. Here's another.

Out of respect, I have been reluctant to
engage artists of note on the few
occasions through the decades when
I've been in their presence.

Such was the case in the mid 90s with
Paul Simon. He was standing about ten
feet away at JazzFest's Congo Square
stage with Edie Brickell one early Thursday afternoon.

It was in the period not long after the release of "Rhythm of the Saints,"
which album had been a significant comfort a couple of years earlier during my lengthy recovery after being hit by a car while jogging.

The album infused by Simon's fascination and emergence with African
and Brazilian music was recorded with a majority of the musicians from those countries. It is filled with lilting melody lines and harmonies, gentle but insistent rhythms, and as always Simon's ever-present lyrical elusiveness and undercurrent of melancholy.

Listening to it over and over again was a
major factor in the healing process. It
has become my favorite album. Since
its release I've listened to it way more than any other.

As is my penchant I left the creator and
his bride alone. Which I now rue
after recently streaming "In Restless
Dreams," the well done doc about
Simon's career and creative process on Amazon Prime.

I've been blessed to hear Paul Simon live a few times.

The only gig with his long time stage
partner was during their last attempt
to perform together. It was an outdoor
show. Art Garfunkel's voice was a
croak. Not a primo experience.

But a trio of other adventures hearing Simon ring special.

The first at the Xavier University
basketball arena in '91 or '92. He was
touring with many of those South
African and Brazilian players. It was
sublime. On crutches from that
accident, I was still compelled to stand
and sway during the show.

Another a few years later was at the
shed up in Noblesville. Again he was
great. That night was exceptional since
the opener was Brian Wilson,
whose eight piece band rendered all
those Beach Boys classics pitch perfectly.

In May of 2011, the Film Babe and I
heard Simon at the Ryman (If you've
never heard a show at that cathedral
music venue, put it on your bucket list.)

Among the litany of Simon favorites
performed that night, one that
resonated for me was "The Boxer" with
dobro master Jerry Douglas joining in.

When Don Everly was introduced and
joined Simon for one of my
childhood faves "Bye Bye Love," I was in rock & roll heaven.

So, Paul, my apologies.

I should have walked over and briefly said thanks.

Observer of the Passing Scene: Pop Culture and Sports. Writer. Film Critic. Curmudgeon. Rock & Roll and Louisville Cardinal fan.

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