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Paul Simon Tinkers With His Classics On 'In The Blue Light'

"The album is a good example of fixing things that I thought could be fixed," Paul Simon says.
Ilya S. Savenok
Getty Images
"The album is a good example of fixing things that I thought could be fixed," Paul Simon says.

Paul Simonsays he's ready to stop touring and retire from music. But first, he's going back through his discography to do a little tinkering.

Simon has released his fourteenth and possibly final album. In the Blue Light,out now, is a collection of the famed singer-songwriter's older songs, rearranged — and in some cases, partially rewritten — to fix the things Simon didn't like about them the first time around. But don't call him a perfectionist. "I have nothing against the word," Simon says. "It just doesn't apply to me. You can't be perfect. It's either musical or it's not musical."

Simon says the reworks of classicslike "The Sound of Silence" and "Some Folks' Lives Roll Easy" are a good example of "fixing things that I thought could be fixed." Some of the tracks on the album have new verses while others have different production and emotive inflections.

Although he doesn't feel he's made an absolutely flawless song, Simon says some of his hits, like his 1970 Grammy-winning signature song, "Bridge Over Troubled Water," have stood the test of time in a gratifying way.

"I think the big measuring thing is, 'Will something last a hundred years?' If you write a song and it lasts a hundred years I'd say, 'Well, that's a hit.' And I have a couple songs that I have a shot at it, you know?"

Simon spoke with NPR's David Greene about In the Blue Light, the luxury of fixing flaws while he still can and why his fans are really the last composers. Hear their conversation at the audio link.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.
Barry Gordemer is an award-winning producer, editor, and director for NPR's Morning Edition. He's helped produce and direct NPR coverage of two Persian Gulf wars, eight presidential elections, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and hurricanes Katrina and Harvey. He's also produced numerous profiles of actors, musicians, and writers.