Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Paul Simon’s New Album Out Tomorrow: So Beautiful, So Great


If you’ve been complaining about how bad pop music is, how music from the “old days” was so much better, you can’t complain any more starting tomorrow. Paul Simon‘s “So Beautiful, or So What” hits stores and download services. You can get it from his website —–or from ITunes,, etc. It is a work of art, which is not unusual for Simon, who’s already created enough masterpieces by this time, from “The Sound of Silence” through “Bridge over Troubled Water,” a couple of my own favorites like “My Little Town” and “American Tune” through an under appreciated gem called “How Do You Live in the Northeast?” from his last album, “Surprise.”

On “So Beautiful,” Simon is full of rhythm, and he says it’s the best thing he’s done since “Graceland.” It’s subtle work, though. First we heard “Getting Ready for Christmas Day” and “The Afterlife,” the more obvious “hits” on the CD. But once the excitement of getting a new Paul Simon collection settles in, there ‘s a lot more. “Rewrite,” which he performed last week for Jimmy Fallon, resonates on many levels.

This sublime album is full of wonderful intricate lyrics. My favorite though is “Questions for the Angels.” Simon sings of his character in the song, a “pilgrim”:

Downtown Brooklyn
The pilgrim is passing a billboard
That catches his eye
It’s Jay-Z
He’s got a kid on each knee
He’s wearing clothes that he wants us to try

Simon also references an old classic, “Homeward Bound.” What if he hadn’t gotten on that train in that song? Would his life have been different?

If an empty train in a railroad station
Calls you to its destination
Can you choose another track?
Will I wake up from these violent dreams
With my hair as white as the morning moon?

Questions about God, love, aging–not much fare here for teenagers. But plenty for adults. Buy this album, guys. It’s a treasure.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News