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Paul Simon & Friends - Paul Simon & Friends: The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Paul Simon & Friends
The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song
Celebrating the Music of Paul Simon

Paul Simon & Friends

Shout! Factory - 826663 11327 (DVD)

Available from Shout! Factory.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

In May 2007, the Library of Congress got a very impressive gathering of prime musicians together to honor Paul Simon in the first award of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, a sumptuous event dubbed "the greatest night of popular music ever presented in our nation's capital", and I've no doubt whatsoever that this is true, as the experience was captured with 5.1 Surround Sound and elegantly filmed. The MC was a curious choice, though—football announcer Bob Costas—but the roster of guests was not, not at all. Lyle Lovett kicks everything off with 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, backed by what's here billed as 'Paul Simon's Band', a very grooved-in assortment of top players, including drummer Steve Gadd (yes, there are at least 4 rock drummers by the name of 'Steve Gadd', but this is the Steve Gadd).

He's followed by the dynamite trio of Alison Krause (playing violin as well as singing), Shawn Colvin, and Jerry Douglas for a rendition of The Boxer. Every so often in between songs is shown a clip from the past, events such as the Zimbabwe Graceland concert of '87, Paul's appearance on Saturday Night Live (1976, with George Harrison), and so on, adding a sense of the history in what the Library of Congress is reflecting. The tempo and styles vary, as with Stephen Marley's reggae re-do of Mother and Child Reunion or, very surprisingly, Philip Glass' piano recital of Sounds of Silence…though it might just as easily be said that Phil was upstaged by an even more unusual slot: Grover and Elmo of Sesame Street encanting The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy).

The not-so-obscure object of desire, Simon himself shows up late in the concert to receive his just accolades and duet with the inimitable Ladysmith Black Mambazo, his old pard Art Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder, and the Dixie Hummingbirds, rounding out the event in a rather astonishing display of just how vital and fresh his singing voice and playing still are, having sacrificed not a molecule to the decades that have passed since he and Garfunkel hit the scene in the 60s. That, to my mind, was the most surprising element here, and it joins the very, very, very heartening re-welcoming lately given Danny O'Keefe (here) and Jesse Winchester (here), both of whom also are as good as ever…if not better. Therefore, dare we hope that this DVD is just the signal for another Simon blockbuster in the works? Let's hope so.

Track List:

  • Lyle Lovett: 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover
  • Alison Krauss, Shawn Colvin and Jerry Douglas: The Boxer
  • Stephen Marley: Mother And Child Reunion
  • Miriam Makeba and Paul Simon: Under African Skies
  • ((Paul Simon Graceland: The African Concert clip, Zimbabwe, 1987))
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Homeless
  • Paul Simon: Mrs. Robinson
  • ((Yankee Stadium tribute to Joe DiMaggio clip, April 25, 1999))
  • James Taylor and the Dixie Hummingbirds: Slip Slidin' Away
  • Billy Collins and the Dixie Hummingbirds: Sunday Morning With The Sensational Nightingales (poem)
  • Buckwheat Zydeco and Lyle Lovett: That Was Your Mother
  • Paul Simon and George Harrison: Homeward Bound
  • ((Saturday Night Live clip, November 20, 1976))
  • James Taylor: Still Crazy After All These Years
  • Marc Anthony: El Condor Pasa
  • Marc Anthony: Late In The Evening
  • Yolanda Adams and Jessy Dixon: Gone At Last
  • Dianne Reeves: Something So Right
  • Grover and Elmo (Muppets): The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
  • Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas: Graceland
  • Paul Simon & Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes
  • Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • Paul Simon: Father And Daughter Reunion
  • Paul Simon & Stevie Wonder: Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard
  • Paul Simon / Stevie Wonder / Dixie Hummingbirds: Loves Me Like A Rock
  • Philip Glass: Sounds Of Silence

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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