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Paul Simon Talks About Themes In His Songwriting

This latest excerpt from Paul Simon’s exclusive interview with Tom Moon covers themes in his songwriting. “Songwriter” will be in stores October 24th!

Q When you look at the whole of your work as a songwriter, do you see large themes that characterize it or maybe distinct musical ideas that define certain eras?

A I don’t see large themes that span my songwriting career, unless it’s the story of my life. There are the usual song subjects: love songs, family, social commentary, etc. And, of course the changing perspective of aging. I think you could look at my work as divided into three distinct periods: Simon & Garfunkel, pre-Graceland solo albums and Graceland to the present.

People often point out the amount of God or religious references and it’s true they’ve been there since the early writing. Mrs. Robinson’s “Jesus loves you more than you will know” and so forth through Hearts And Bones and certainly the last group of songs on So Beautiful or So What: Love Is Eternal Sacred Light, Questions For The Angels and Love And Hard Times. So, maybe there’s a certain amount of spiritual seeking that could be seen as a thematic. But just as often the references are skeptical—I Don’t Believe—or mocking as in the first two verses of Love And Hard Times.

Paul Simon - Songwriter