Paul Simon explains why he’s “second to Bob Dylan”

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For more than 50 years, Bob Dylan has been a colossal presence in rock culture. He has had a significant influence on the genre and is frequently cited as one of history’s most influential musicians. A sound unmatched by anything else in the category was produced by the fusion of folk and rock in Dylan’s distinctive style.

His ascent to renown as a budding folk artist was dependent upon New York City’s flashing lights. Dylan’s early obsession with rock and roll musicians like Little Richards and Buddy Holly gave way to the more verbose, acoustic stylings of folk in the late 1950s.

Dylan began composing and recording after being inspired by the long-standing folk tradition, and by the time his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, was released in 1963, he had achieved international fame. His early success was largely due to politically charged songs, which seemed to spark the countercultural revolution that the decade is now known for. Throughout the 1960s and beyond, numerous aspiring musicians were inspired by his early acoustic music. New Yorker Paul Simon, who based a lot of his early work with Art Garfunkel on Dylan’s early folk output, was one of Dylan’s most notable early followers.

Simon has received acclaim for his talent for fusing various musical genres to produce a distinctive musical style and sound. He has incorporated elements of rock, folk, jazz, pop, world music, and other genres to produce a distinctive body of work that has influenced a huge number of other artists. Paul Simon has also received praise for his songwriting and lyrical imagery, which frequently alludes to various cultures and contemporary societal problems.

Even though Simon loved Dylan, he was also annoyed as he was second to Dylan. Simon quickly left Dylan’s dominance behind and began to develop his own style. He was irritated with it and during his interview with Rolling Stone he told, “I usually come in second to [Dylan], and I don’t like coming in second, In the beginning, when we were first signed to Columbia, I really admired Dylan’s work. ‘The Sound of Silence’ wouldn’t have been written if it weren’t for Dylan. But I left that feeling around The Graduate and ‘Mrs Robinson’. They [my songs] weren’t folky any more.”

He continued, “One of my deficiencies is my voice sounds sincere, I’ve tried to sound ironic. I don’t. I can’t. Dylan, everything he sings has two meanings. He’s telling you the truth and making fun of you at the same time. I sound sincere every time.”

When Simon asked Dylan to perform a duet for “So Beautiful Or So What” during their 1999 tour together, it seems that the former didn’t respond. In his interview with Uncut in 2011, he said, “I thought Bob could sing, put a nice voice on the verse from ‘So Beautiful Or So What’ that begins: ‘Ain’t it strange the way we’re ignorant/ how we seek out bad advice,’ “I thought it would be nice if he sang that, since his voice has become so weathered, I thought he would sound like a sage. I sent it to him, but I didn’t hear back. I don’t know why.”


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