Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 8:00 am
Paul Simon's music can feel timeless even when it's filled with new ideas. In his interview with World Cafe host David Dye, Simon reflects on his friend Bert Jansch, who recently died, and discusses their friendship, which lasted more than 30 years. Noting the strange and uncomfortable feeling that he gets while watching himself and his peers age, Simon says it's a constant reminder of how quickly time can pass. In fact, it's been 25 years since he released Graceland, a touchstone for its incorporation of African instruments and world music into pop songwriting.
Simon explores many ideas surrounding life and death on his latest album, So Beautiful or So What. The album centers on themes of spirituality and mortality, often teasing out universal truths with a light and humorous touch. Simon is a master of writing songs that feel profoundly human without sacrificing their ability to work as great pop songs, so it comes as no surprise that his 16th studio album is a marvelous addition to his catalog.