Well, the news broke on Saturday - Paul Simon playing Dunedin's Forsyth Barr stadium on Saturday, April 6, and Auckland's Vector Arena on Monday, April 8. The tickets for both shows will be on sale from Friday, February 8.
I am excited!
I'm a huge Paul Simon fan - as I'm sure you know. And I've never seen him live. Well, not solo. I went to the Simon & Garfunkel gigs in Auckland in 2009 - both of them. And they were great gigs to see. Really quite special, even if Art Garfunkel's voice was shot, embarrassing...but Paul Simon sounded good. And, as I said in that blog-post I linked to above, when Paul Simon took his solo spot he looked and sounded 20 years younger.
There's always been Paul Simon's music in my life. I cannot remember a time without it. My parents were (and are) big fans. They played plenty of Simon & Garfunkel material; we had a Greatest Hits tape in the car and LPs for the house. But they were really into the Paul Simon solo albums.
Still Crazy After All These Years and One Trick Pony were the big ones for me. Growing up. Still firm favourites. I was baffled to find out that One Trick Pony was considered something of a dud. I love that album. Some days it's my favourite album of all time - I'm so wrapped up in the nostalgia of hearing it from the age of five that I still prefer to play the LP (I still have mum and dad's copy) which has a scratch in the song That's Why God Made the Movies, meaning one line of the lyric is skipped over. If I'm listening to the clean CD version, or on my iPod I hear that scratch (in my head).
That record had a huge impact on my life. I can play through the whole album in my head.
And then there was Graceland.
When I first heard the accordion that opens The Boy in the Bubble and the huge thud of drums I was blown away, it was a sound that seemed so visceral, but new to me. I was nine years old.
That album quickly became a staple.
And I'd argue that though Graceland was the phenomenon, The Rhythm of the Saints is a better album. It might not be the popular argument but I think Simon's songwriting on Rhythm eclipses a lot of the (great) writing from Graceland. The world was only ready to hear it as a copycat record though.
Another favourite Paul Simon album for me is his solo debut, Paul Simon. I love that record. It's one of the first LPs I picked up when I started my own record collection at university. And I had a tape of it that,- at one point, was stuck in my car's stereo. I could either have no music at all, or I could have Paul Simon by Paul Simon. So I listened to that album a lot.
A couple of years ago I gushed about Paul Simon's album, So Beautiful or So What, it was my record of the year - pretty much - for 2011. Certainly my most played record of that year. I still play it often. And it's the best thing he's done since Rhythm of the Saints as far as I'm concerned.
I've always wanted to see Paul Simon live, for many reasons, the incredible songwriting, sure. But also because he's always had amazing bands and I've watched so many concert films - and the movie One Trick ony and whatever I can find on YouTube. I've all but obsessed over his playing for most of my life.
I'm baffled by people who don't recognise his songwriting prowess. I'm constantly hearing new things within songs - both lyrically, and in terms of hooks - that have me returning (always) to the music.
There are (now) far too many Greatest Hits/Best Of compilations on the market but I reckon the best, still, is Negotiations and Love Songs 1971-1986. That's my go-to. And if you want a quick survey of one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century - and one of my favourite lyricists - then this is the volume to check out.
So I'll be there. At the gig. I'm sure of that. This is my one show of the year that - with a busy schedule and a young child and so on - I'll still find time (and money) to travel for.
What about you? Excited by the news of Paul Simon coming to town? Will you be going? Have you seen him before? And good news for Dunedin's stadium, right? Or are you not a fan at all? Do you not think there's anything special in this man's music?
You can also check out Off the Tracks for The Vinyl Countdown, reviews and other posts.