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Still writing, after all these years

Simon changes course with 'You're the One'

Unlike his albums of the past 17 years, Paul Simon's latest, "You're The One" follows no particular theme  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Paul Simon broke some old ground this week with the release of "You're the One."

The CD is the first disc Simon's released in 17 years that's not dominated by a theme or concept. "Graceland" (1986), for example, is marked by South African influences. "Rhythm of the Saints" (1990) is known for its Brazilian undercurrents.

This time, says Simon, the 11 songs on his latest effort are linked only by "their flow and shape."

Simon, who'll be 60 on October 13, recently rehearsed with his 11-piece touring band at a sound stage just blocks from the Brill Building, where he and his teen-aged pal, Art Garfunkel, tried to get their songs published in the late 1950s. He took a few moments to reflect on music, touring and his latest album.

Simon performs 'Old' from his album, 'You're the One'

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CNN: You seem not to have lost a step as a songwriter. Has writing songs always been relatively easy for you?

Paul Simon: Well, it has always been there: I don't know if it is relatively easy; sometimes it is hard. This album was particulary easy. though. It was easy in a sense that it came very quickly, and that is unusual for me. But -- I don't know -- I guess I have experienced periods of block, writers block. ... Every time I finish and a year goes by ... I'll wonder if I will have another idea.

CNN: Does this album have some sort of underlying theme, or is it just a collection of diverse songs?

Simon: Oh, I don't know. ... It is, of course, what I learned -- what has come out and what experiences come out. But most of it is just imaginary, you know.

(T)here isn't a theme except that ... the music has a flow and a shape and ... I was very conscious of that -- that it should have a shape, and that it should be able to be listened to as an entire piece of 44 minutes, and that you won't be bored.

CNN: The sequencing of the tracks has something to do with it?

Simon: The sequencing, and the color, and keys and tempo. And there are a lot of elements that play into what keeps our attention span from exploding and dissappearing. ... So I was keeping an ear our for that -- trying my best.


CNN: So people will say, "This CD is just a collection of songs."

Simon: That's essentially true. It's not about any other culture. It's about stories, and has much more of me playing the guitar than it has in the last ... decade-and-a-half. It's a collection of songs; that's right.

CNN: Did you learn anything when you toured on a shared bill with Bob Dylan?

Simon: That was a lot of fun. ... I'm not sure that I learned anything. I hadn't toured in a long time before that. It was good to go out and get in front of an audience again. ...

We're different, but there's something that made a lot of sense for the pairing (of us). ... I liked his band, he liked my band, I liked singing duets with him; they were hilarious. ... For a brief amount of time that was fun, and maybe we'll do it again sometime.

CNN: You're doing a fall swing through Europe, is that the understanding?

Simon: Yeah, I am going to go and do about seven weeks of touring. ... I haven't been and played in Europe in 10 years. And then I will come back and play in the (United States) a little bit. It is not a big tour.

CNN: Will this culminate in a PBS special of some sort?

Simon: They're going to shoot the shows that we do in Paris and that will be shown on PBS.

Simon's album was released on the Warner Bros. label and, like CNN, is a part of Time Warner.

Rock hall of fame names potential inductees
September 19, 2000

Paul Simon

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