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Publisher's Summary

A publishing event from music legend Paul Simon: an intimate, candid, and definitive biography written with Simon's participation - but without editorial control - by acclaimed biographer and music writer Robert Hilburn.

Through such hits as "The Sound of Silence", "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Still Crazy After All These Years", and "Graceland", Paul Simon has spoken to us in songs for a half-century about alienation, doubt, resilience, and empathy in ways that have established him as one of the most honored and beloved songwriters in American pop music history. His music has gone beyond the sales charts into our cultural consciousness. He was the first songwriter awarded the Gershwin Prize by the Library of Congress and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (twice) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Deeply private, Simon has said he will not write an autobiography and has refused to talk to previous biographers. But he not only opened up to acclaimed biographer Robert Hilburn for what has amounted to more than 100 hours, he also urged those around him to speak. Independently, Hilburn also interviewed others who have been important in Simon's life, including his first two wives, Peggy Harper and Carrie Fisher, as well as, for the first time, people close to Kathy Chitty, his long-reclusive first muse.

The result is a deeply human account of the challenges and sacrifices of a life in music at the highest level, including the courage to leave Simon and Garfunkel at the peak of the duo's popularity to pursue more fully his expanding artistic goals. Hilburn documents Simon's search for artistry and his constant struggle to protect that artistry against distractions - fame, marriage, divorce, drugs, record company interference, rejection, and insecurity - that have derailed so many great pop figures.

Paul Simon: The Life is an intimate and inspiring narrative that helps us finally understand Paul Simon the person and the artist, including new and absorbing insights into his most enduring songs. Exploring his successes and failures onstage and off, the book combines the scholarship, passion, and storytelling grace of biography at its best.

©2018 Robert Hilburn (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"Using a conversational tone throughout, Boutsikaris delivers the song lyrics as if they were works of poetry, giving listeners a new perspective on them." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great!

Bob Hilburn brings insights into Pail Simon like nobody else can. His access and long history covering music is invaluable.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Paul Simon the music

This book is mistitled. It is not about Paul Simon's life (including friendships and other personal relationships) in any but a superficial fashion. If what you're looking for is a well-researched, detailed chronology of the evolution of Simon's music, this is the book for you.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Great story of Paul Simon's journey through life.

I really loved it.
It was a great story of Paul Simon's journey through life.
This minimum number of words for my review is dumb.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Enjoyable Listen

I am sure that you aren't looking at this book unless you are a S&G fan, and I bought it for the same reason. I enjoyed it most in unexpected ways, however, as Simon's description of the work that went into writing some of his songs had me going back to listen to them again with a new perspective. Much of his newer stuff has had little interest for me, as it lacks the hooks found in his earlier stuff. After hearing about his thought process, I found the songs much more interesting. Highly recommended biography.

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A must for fans of Paul Simon

I've had a subscription to the LA Times most of my adult life. Robert Hilburn was the rock music critic for the Times for 35 of those years. His biography, Paul Simon: The Life, is a loving and unblinking portrait of one of the greatest songwriters of my generation. In his book about Simon's life devoted to writing songs and making music, Hilburn describes Paul Simon's struggles to balance professional life with a stable and happy personal one. He details Simon's close but antagonistic relationship with Art Garfunkel, finally ending in an irreparable split. But the best parts of the book are about Simon's creative process in songwriting. These passages are deeply personal and wonderfully insightful. Simon's struggle to always improve through learning from and collaborating with other musicians sets an example for any striving novice. As a 50-plus year fan of Simon's music, Paul Simon: The Life was a sublime read (or listen) and deeply affecting. Kudos to the narrator, Dennis Boutsikaris.

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Profoundly inspirational

Highly recommend to anyone who loves Paul Simon’s music, is a creative person of any kind, and wants to understand his creative process. It also illustrates how marriage, even for a good person, doesn’t always work the first or even second time around but can when you meet the right person. Found the audio narration clear but too stoic and emotionally invariant, perhaps by design but I’m wondering if a different reader would bring the words, especially song lyrics to life. Even better would be to have Paul Simon read his own statements and lyrics.

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Great Authorized Biogreaphy of Paul Simon

I grew up listening to Simon and Garfunkel and thought I followed Paul Simon's career since the 1960's, however Robert Hilburn's book, Paul Simon, the life, is an amazing story read beautifully by Dennis Bourtsikaris. I learned a great deal about what a truly gifted musician Paul Simon hs been for over six decades, how dedicated he is to his music and how much he cares about trying to use his financial clout to improve the world. Even if you think you know everything about Paul Simon and his music, you'll be enlightened by how much more you will learn and enjoy as you listen to this fabulous book!

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Well written, well told

A great book about a great artist. A wonderful presentation by the speaker. Highly recommend this.

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Getting to know the man behind the music

I normally prefer autobiographies narrated by the author. Hearing their story in their own words really does make a difference. However knowing that Paul Simon spent 200+ hours with Robert Hilburn, telling intimate details of his life and discussing his work in detail, and the excellent narration by Dennis Boutsikaris made this a great listen.
I have been a fan of Paul Simon since my early teens and found this book to open a window to the man behind the music. Well worth the credit!

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Quite good even if no big surprises

Very enjoyable. I love a lot of Simon's work. The best thing about this biography is how Simon relates his creative process, keeping track of snatches of sentences throughout his life and how the melodies almost always come first.