How many aged musicians put out shit that’s as good as what they did in their heyday?
When legends like Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney or Bob Dylan release a new record, there isn’t much to get excited about. They pale in comparison to their former greatness. But, out of respect, we find hints of their former glory and appreciate the fact that they’re still making new music in their not-so-golden years. And once in awhile, the listener is rewarded by discovering a single solid track that reminds us of what they use to be.
Paul Simon’s managed to escape the trend of his contemporaries and may now be considered The Pimp of the Baby-Boomers. And his new album, So Beautiful or So What proves it. Simon isn’t resting on his laurels, he’s writing songs that are relevant, fresh and objectively good.
So Beautiful or So What is the rare kind of album, where, if I was told it was recorded thirty years ago? I wouldn’t question it. This either proves that Simon’s former work holds up today or that his current work hasn’t skipped a beat. I think it’s a mixture of both.
The zydacoe and African influence on the album is straight up Graceland with a modern edge and Americana twist. Lyrically solid, Simon’s reflective narrative on modern times demonstrates his topical perspective is as relevant as ever. He’s given fans an album that stays true to who he is: a nerdy Jewish guy from New York whose music is so good that nothing else matters. He’s pretty much the antithesis of what a musician “should” be. And that’s why he’s so cool… because he’s not.
“The Afterlife,” a poetic prophecy that playfully suggests that at sixty-nine, Simon might be coming to terms with the fact that he’s old (even if he doesn’t sound it).