The signs of a hipster reappraisal for Paul Simon have been apparent. Now with Paul’s Byrne/Grizzly Bear-powered BAM residency, the moment is in full bloom. And Time Out New York is all over it for the mag’s residency preview piece, nabbing affectionate quotage from David Byrne, Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, and Grizzly Bear’s Dan Rossen.
David Byrne, who as TONY notes has shared collaborators (Brian Eno and Philp Glass) and a fascination the sounds of Africa, structures his opinions on Paul’s coolness, both real and perceived:
There are certain people who just think he’s not cool … A couple of years ago I put some songs from his record You’re the One up on my online-radio playlist, and I got flak for it! But I thought it was just great writing, and musically it didn’t fit in anywhere.
There was a period where he might have been one of the people to rebel against because he was so successful and musically slick. But he manages to keep pushing himself into places where he’s not completely comfortable, where he has to write in a different kind of way. A lot of people from his generation just don’t do that.
Ezra’s very over you comparing his band to Graceland, but that doesn’t mean he won’t tell you why it’s awesome:
Ezra Koenig, 23, frontman of Vampire Weekend–who won’t be appearing at BAM–is justifiably weary of the Graceland comparisons. But he’s nevertheless just as quick to come to Simon’s defense. “The idea of listening to music that a lot of suburban yuppies listened to in 1986 may not be appealing,” he concedes. “But the lyrics [on Graceland] are totally surreal. It’s not like Paul Simon just grabbed some African beats and kept on writing ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water.’?”
Graceland’s at the heart of Grizzly master Dan Rossen’s relationship with Paul, too. Here he waxes nostalgic about how its lyrics affected him, ultimately leading to his distinct and stunning, live-staple Simon cover:
For Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear–whom Simon recruited after Canadian songstress Feist tipped him off to the band’s ingeniously retooled version of Graceland’s title track–Simon conjures more intimate associations. “Graceland was on in my house all the time when I was a kid,” recalls the 25-year-old singer-guitarist. “But I reconnected with it recently, when my father was dying of cancer, and my stepmother and him had this very tender relationship. Something about the broken-marriage factor of [the title track] was very touching to me.”
The Paul Simon celebration takes place all this month at BAM. Head here for whatever tix you can get, and remember to bring your skinny black jeans, your thick-framed glasses, and your dad.