Whenever I am asked about determining a single creator that is influential to me I naturally panic. My interest in music has stemmed from the many artists and pieces of music that have impacted me throughout my entire long life, how do I choose one and WHO?! I would prefer instead to have a collection of VIPs, as a culmination of inspiration.
One of these VIPs would be Paul Simon.
Simon's someone I consider to be a genuinely genius artist – a brilliant and inventive musician, a creative and truthful lyricist, an innovative producer and a serenely honest performer.
Simon’s music made me realise how honest and exposing lyrics can be. Songs can so naturally and sincerely ensue from our emotions, and really ignite a deep connectivity between a creator and their audience. His music often embodies serious facets of the human experience, such as alienation, depression, love, loss, self-doubt etcetera. His first solo album, and my personal favourite, The Paul Simon Songbook, to me demonstrates this perfectly.
His lyrics can represent complex or simple ideas, be serious or utterly whimsical, and are often poems in their own right. They hold their own on paper without any melody backing them up, like fellow literary masterminds Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, John Lennon and Mark Bolan (to name only a few).
Simon’s continuous exploration of the possibilities of lyrics opened my mind to new spheres of creativity with language, and its innate connection to music. It’s a genuine expression of the self, and this is the music I mostly appreciate and consider most meaningful.
As a future graduate of a Bachelor of Audio, I want to work with artists who, like Simon, possess an innermost urge to express - to share and connect with their audiences genuinely - and be able to effectively and earnestly assist them in their communication.
I also respect Paul Simon’s general slight-badass nature. Listening to his music, and learning about the creative processes behind the songs, I can appreciate that he follows his own artistic leadings, and maintains creative control in bringing his ideas into fruition.
Graceland – what a unique and interesting composition as an album! I admire that Simon finds inspiration from various sources; amalgamating the different styles to produce a unique and eclectic mix of music. Not only did the beautiful harmonies and rhythms of African music enrich the album, but the entire spectrum of popular music! Which up until that point hadn't experienced this traditional source in communion with popular music and already well-established artists.
And of course, experiencing an artist live has a major impact on one’s opinion of them. I had the pleasure of seeing this small but hugely talented person live in concert in 2013 (and 2015), and will never forget how purely rich, pristine and quite-damn-near-perfect the music was.
I can actually recall a distinct moment in the night where, being amongst the thousands of other people openly enjoying his music, I felt seriously content and thought, ‘man, I really want this’… I think the ‘this’ was to be a part of the communal power of music – to make and share it.
It is not an exaggeration for me to say that Simon’s music made me realise how ‘real’ and beautiful music can be, with meaningful lyrics, touching tunes and a truly communicative voice... I can assuredly say that as a creative, he further enlightened me to the extent of my passion for music, and the desire to be all-consumed professionally within it.
I hope that in working in audio production I can continue in Simon’s footsteps of being an innovative and experimental music-maker; facilitating the creation of music that, like his, will mean something to people - and maybe even be as timeless (we can only hope).