April 1, 2021

Paul Simon's Process of Creation

I enjoyed this interview principally for two reasons:

  • The tender way these two men approach the art of song writing, which can be extrapolated to all writing, which can be extrapolated further into all making.
  • Paul Simon's medieval haircut.

In it, the famed singer-songwriter breaks down the creation of arguably his most famous song, "Bridge Over Troubled Water". Clearly a deep thinker and a tinkerer, we are given a glimpse into the round about way Simon writes his songs.


Halfway through, Simon describes a feeling of being stuck. Cavett presses him on this, so he responds,

"well, everywhere I went led me to where I didn't want to be, so I was stuck.

Indeed for him, songwriting appears to be a mix of drawing inspiration from others (he almost directly takes a line from a Gospel singer he hears), and allowing the song to emerge from where it was hiding.

"That's how songs happen", Simon declares, "they piece themselves together."

It is this style of art, where the creation flows out of you, which must connect somewhere to a deeper sense of who we are and what we want to say. It requires different inputs to achieve: patience and quiet sometimes, noise and disruption at others.

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