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Miracle and Wonder  By  cover art

Miracle and Wonder

By: Malcolm Gladwell,Bruce Headlam
Narrated by: Malcolm Gladwell,Bruce Headlam,Paul Simon
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Interview: Malcolm Gladwell Elicits Anecdotes, Songs, and Creative Wisdom In 'Miracle and Wonder: Conversations with Paul Simon'

'There's something about a drone that seems to be a worldwide language. So many cultures love it.'
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  • Miracle and Wonder
  • 'There's something about a drone that seems to be a worldwide language. So many cultures love it.'

Publisher's summary

*For a more up-to-date version check out Miracle and Wonder: Conversations with Paul Simon (Special Edition)

What happens when Paul Simon, widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in music history, and Malcolm Gladwell, the best-selling author, sit down together, with a tape recorder and a guitar?

Miracle and Wonder: Conversations with Paul Simon is part memoir, part investigation, and unlike any creative portrait you’ve ever heard before. Recorded over a series of 30 hours of conversation between Simon, Gladwell, and Gladwell’s oldest friend and co-writer, journalist and Broken Record podcast co-host Bruce Headlam, the conversation flows from Simon’s music, to his childhood in Queens, NY, to his frequent collaborators including Art Garfunkel and the nature of creativity itself. Gladwell and Headlam traveled from the mountains of Hawaii to Simon’s own backyard studio to record an artist they’ve idolized since childhood.

Woven throughout the audiobook is distinctive commentary about Simon’s songwriting alongside archival audio footage and never-before-heard live studio versions and original recordings of beloved hits including “The Boxer", “The Sound of Silence", and “Graceland”. Between conversations, Gladwell deploys his signature blend of historical research and social science in an attempt to understand how a boy from 1940s Queens conjured near-perfect songs over an incredible 65-year career. Along the way, he gathers reflections on Simon’s particular genius from the likes of Sting, Herbie Hancock, Renee Fleming, Jeff Tweedy, Aaron Lindsey, and Roseanne Cash.

The result is an intimate audio biography of one of America’s most popular songwriters. Brimming with music and conversation, Miracle and Wonder is a window into Simon’s legendary career, what it means to be alive as an artist, and how to create work that endures.

©2021 Pushkin Industries and Paul Simon (P)2021 Pushkin Industries and Paul Simon

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What listeners say about Miracle and Wonder

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

A lifelong companion who will never know my name

I was first introduced to Simon and Garfunkel just before I left for Vietnam. It basically slapped me up side the heart, and began the long process of looking beyond myself better known as growing up.
Throughout my life Paul has always been able to touch me, and he still does.
This piece is the best presentation of a very private life I have encountered in a long time. Malcolm and Bruce did wonderful job of opening up for us the inner processes of an endlessly creative musical giant. One of the greatest of my lifetime. I can’t tell how much I appreciate this.
Now excuse me while I embark on a journey through Paul’s music beginning to now. I won’t say end any more than Malcom and Bruce would. Thanks again for reminding me of how much I love Paul Simon’s genius.

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44 people found this helpful

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American Miracle

I could listen to Paul for another 20 hours. Brilliant man and student of music. I always preferred his earlier works but can’t deny the creativity of Graceland et al My favorite PS lyric wasn’t mentioned. It was the omitted piece from The Boxer
“Now the years are rolling by me
They are rocking evenly
I am older than I once was , younger than I’ll be
But that’s not unusual
Yes it’s true
After changes upon changes we are more or less the same
After changes we are more or less the same”

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38 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Way too much Malcom and too little Paul

Dean, in his review below, writing in pain at what could have been, gets it just right. Malcom says early on that Paul wore the authors out talking and playing unstoppably for hours. That's what I was looking forward to. And what we get in snippets of the amazing Paul Simon and too much of Malcom Gladwell beating pedantic points beaten to death.

Release the unedited tapes! That's where the gold is.

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20 people found this helpful

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Good Title

If we could personify music, Paul Simon's music is the love of my life. As a young teen girl growing up in Nashville, I was hooked the first time I heard The Sound of Silence and yes, I can remember the moment. His music has accompanied me through good and bad times all my life, through love and divorce, celebrations and solitude. I took my two daughters when they were young to his Rhythm of the Saints concert years ago and it was thrilling. We all pretty much memorized lyrics to all his songs.

I was shocked to realize, as he explains toward the end of the book, that he doesn't really sing "love songs." How did I missed that? His lyrics and music speak broadly to the human experience, but in a deeply personal and gentle way.

So about this book----at first I was annoyed by the amount of time the narrators take to explain and analyze Paul Simon's music (where does it come from, what are his influences, etc.). It bothered me when Gladwell (or Headlam, not sure) repeated the lyrics Simon was singing (maybe not everyone knows every word of every song, okay, fair enough). But after a while, I just let that go and appreciated what I'd been given in the gift of this audio book. What a wonderful idea to make it in the first place (thank you Malcolm Gladwell and Bruce Headlam). And I would say that the last third of the book they do offer deep insights into individual songs and albums.

Still, I would love to have heard all five hours and six minutes just listening to Paul Simon sing, talk, tell his stories, but especially sing! From his own perspective, his history and his plans. I cannot wait for Seven Psalms. Thank you, Paul Simon.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Beauty and Pain

What we have here is some of the most profound songwriting of the modern era, detailed in moving and often hilarious fashion by its author—constantly interrupted with puerile analysis from Gladwell the interviewer/narrator. I doubt there’s a bigger fan of Paul Simon out there, but even I was worn down in annoyance having Paul’s music and observations cut short over and over again. If I could only edit these five hours down to the hour and a half, two hours of Paul, I would enjoy this immensely. As it is, it’s painfully frustrating. And I got this thing for free! So…buyer beware.

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15 people found this helpful

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I have never heard better!

This may have been the best audiobook I have ever heard. Gladwell gives his trademark obsessively brilliant treatment to the genius of Paul Simon and his lifelong creative legacy. It's not just about Simon's amazing catalogue or his life story; it's a deep dive into the creative process. Gladwell highlights Simon's ability to blend different styles of music into something new and wonderful. The book is a testament to this element of creativity; Gladwell blends his own melodic approach to the material with Simon's take, and in so doing, creates a undeniably groundbreaking, powerhouse work of audio non-fiction. If, as Gladwell contends, the purpose of art is find joy and truth, Miracle and Wonder is bursting at the seams with both. If there were fifty stars to give, you'd have them all. Thank you Malcolm and Paul!

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If there is any reason to get an audible book….

…Here it is! Already a big fan of Malcolm’s books & Audible ones to be exact. He has a great interview style that’s his own and is able to bring you back to the point while getting lost and engrossed in telling of a story. This is definitely a keeper and I’m looking forward to a re-read after I’m done. So grateful Malcolm got the opportunity to do this long overdue interview!

As for Paul Simon, I was never a true fan until one day back in 2019, one of his songs came on the radio and it was sung with such a simple and soft tone that it reached into my heart and touched me so now I’m a new fan @56 years of age. I love watching all the old Dick Cavett interviews on YouTube.

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Finally, a Paul Simon interview worthy of its subject

Beautifully conceived, conveyed and produced. So glad to hear something so layered and thoughtful on one of the greatest (and yet, somehow, I’d say still underappreciated) musicians and songwriters.

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Honesty veiled in Tenderness

Insatiable curiosity describes both Gladwell and Simon. This beautifully edited gift is another blessing to add to the many both of these men have conferred on the world. Only, and truly awesome.

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9 people found this helpful

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Amazing

So wonderful. We're very lucky to have Paul Simon, he's pure magic and Malcolm Gladwell is up there with him. I'm off to listen again.

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7 people found this helpful