Paul Simon Considers His Retirement Options
“It's unusual for an artist to have a second shot at fixing the original work,” he told the Telegraph in a new interview. “Poets do it all the time. Walt Whitman's got I don't know how many versions of ‘Leaves of Grass.’ But in pop music, you go into a studio and get a version that's good and say, ‘There it is.’ Then, after singing that version on the road for six months, you find all these other musical choices. It's a whole different song. And unless it becomes too rococo, it's usually a better song. … It's an advantage to have 10 or 20 years go by and be able to look at it and say, 'That verse didn't really pay off, or I didn't make that point strong enough.’”
Simon noted that there "were some really good songs that got lost. And some that were almost good songs, that just needed a little nudging." He cited the example of “Darling Lorraine” from his 2000 album You’re the One; he thinks it's "one of the best songs I ever wrote. But it's clearer now because I smoothed it out. The original arrangement was so interesting that you didn't really follow the story. You don't want to get too busy admiring the drums."
When Simon revealed his plan to retire, he reported he’d found the decision “a little unsettling, a touch exhilarating and something of a relief.” “I've been doing this since I was 16, I've never taken a break and never really seriously thought about anything else other than music," he said in the new interview. "So I thought ... stop! See what happens. See what stopping does. Even saying it aloud sounds interesting."
“I'd like to see the planet," he continued. ”I think to myself, 'Do I want to spend the next three years making an album or would I rather go to India?' I've traveled a lot but there's a bunch of places I haven't been, the South Pacific Islands, Cambodia. At the end of my life, if I'm fortunate enough to have a graceful non-painful ending, I'd rather say I had a great life than I had a great career.”
Noting that his wife, singer-songwriter Edie Brickell, was spending more time on the road with her own band, he said he "might go travel around with Edie. That's a real possibility. It's sort of her turn."