After countless hours researching, interviewing Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Paul Simon and collecting for Paul Simon: Words and Music, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum lead curator Craig Inciardi shares some of his favorite things in the new Paul Simon feature exhibit, which opened October 30, 2014.
1. Paul Simon's First Acoustic Guitar
All musicians get their start somewhere. On his 13th birthday, Paul Simon received his first guitar as a gift from his father Louis Simon, who was a musician. His father taught him a few chords and Simon quickly realized that many of the popular songs from the 1950s – the ones he was listening to – used the same chords and patterns. He and childhood friend Art Garfunkel began to write songs using those voicings. The first song they wrote using the Stadium brand acoustic guitar was called “The Girl for Me.”
2. Letter from Paul Simon to Art Garfunkel
Paul Simon wrote this letter dated August 13, 1957, when he was attending summer camp in Bellport, New York. Art Garfunkel was at different summer camp in New Jersey, and it was a pivotal moment in their young lives. They had been singing ...
Hall of Fame Inductee Ian McLagan was among the most prominent unifying threads that linked the Small Faces – a band of mod rockers who embraced soul and psychedelia in the 60s – to the Faces, a rollicking band of roots rockers who took the 70s by storm. A wickedly talented musician, McLagan's percussive playing, nuanced accompaniment and versatility behind the keys made him integral to shaping the Small Faces/Faces sound across two decades, and his influence continued long after the Faces disbanded in 1975.
On April 12, 2012, while in Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Ian McLagan was joined on stage by former Small Faces/Faces bandmates including guitarist Ronnie Wood and drummer Kenny Jones, while Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall stepped up on lead vocals, filling in for the late Steve Marriott and an ill Rod Stewart. The group ripped through three classics from the Small Faces/Faces oeuvre: "All or Nothing," "Ooh La La" and "Stay With Me."
The biggest hit of Simon and Garfunkel's career turned into their swan song. The much-loved and critically acclaimed duo personified poetic, collegiate folk rock. Throughout the 1960s, however, Paul Simon's songs increasingly discarded formal language for more colloquial lyrics. Similarly, his music expanded from the folkie roots implicit in his guitar finger picking. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" reflected these trends, besides being a typically well-manicured production. Similar qualities characterized Simon's subsequent solo career.
"'Bridge Over Troubled Water' is something of a mystery to me," notes Simon in the Rock Hall's latest exhibit, Paul Simon: Words & Music. "Because nothing prompted me to write it. I was listening to a lot of gospel quartets, particularly the Swan Silvertones and the Everly Brothers album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. I was stunned and I thought, 'that’s a lot better than I usually write.'"
With a dramatic piano introduction and majestic melody, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is a moving, spiritual song that like the Beatles' "Let It Be" evokes gospel themes without the overt trappings of that genre. Some theorize that its massive success piqued Simon, who not only wrote the tune but also was intimately involved in its ...
Who was Mrs. Roosevelt and what's her relation to Mrs. Robinson? Where did Joe DiMaggio go? Where does Paul Simon come up with his lyrics?
"So goodbye to Mrs. Roosevelt, all along the road down to glory hallelujah," Simon recites from an old handwritten lyric manuscript (pictured) featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's new exhibit, Paul Simon: Words and Music. "I don't think of what I do as writing poetry, but the language may have imagery in it."
Watch Hall of Fame Inductee Paul Simon talk about how "Mrs. Roosevelt" became the famous "Mrs. Robinson," the real background to the "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio" lyric and more:
Opening on October 30, 2014, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland's new exhibit Paul Simon: Words & Music will feature exclusive candid commentary gathered from hours of filmed interview footage that walks the audience through the personal story of Simon’s life and his creative process. This opening marks the Museum’s first-ever exhibit anchored by first-person narration by the artist. In addition to the autobiographical films, there will be videos of select performance highlights from Simon’s ...
What do Chet Atkins, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Graham Nash, the Hollies, Linda Ronstadt, Paul McCartney, Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day have in common? As the above infographic illustrates, each has a connection to the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Music Masters honorees the Everly Brothers.
Click the image above for a free illustrated history of the Everly Brothers infographic download!
"It's impossible to imagine popular music without the Everly Brothers," said 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Donovan in a recorded tribute to the brotherly duo to be honored at the Rock Hall's annual Music Masters event on Saturday, October 25, 2014. "I am influenced tremendously by Don and Phil [Everly], and their incredible recordings."
Although Donovan will not be in Cleveland for the week of events surrounding this year's Music Masters, the Saturday tribute concert will include performances by Hall of Fame Inductee Graham Nash, Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill, JD Souther, Emmylou Harris, Albert Lee, Keb' Mo', Shelby Lynne, Secret Sisters, Alison Krauss, Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Dawn McCarthy, Allison Moorer and more. Get details on the week of Music Masters events celebrating 1986 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees the Everly Brothers, including tickets for the tribute concert!
Watch Donovan sing a stripped-down acoustic version of the Everly Brothers' "So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)."
(pictured: Donovan visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2012, the year of his induction.)
In black music of the Seventies, Earth Wind & Fire were the Beatles to Parliament-Funkadelic's Rolling Stones. There's no better example of EW&F's positive vibration and spiritual uplift than this million-selling Number One Pop/R&B hit from 1975, written by group members Maurice White, Larry Dunn and Philip Bailey. "Shining Star" was one of a brace of EW&F songs recorded for the soundtrack of That's The Way of the World, a racially charted music biz drama starring Harvey Keitel. The film didn't do much at the box office, but the Earth Wind & Fire LP of the same name became a massive hit that topped both the Pop and R&B album charts. "Shining Star" – a flawless fusion of funk rhythms, rock guitar, and the sanctified singing of White and Bailey – won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
Recently, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson of Earth, Wind & Fire visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, and talked with the Rock Hall about what it means to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and be recognized ...
Preaching a gospel of tolerance set against a heady genre-blending groove, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Sly and the Family Stone were the integrated multi-gender Pied Pipers of the Woodstock generation. The group's message – and inimitable synthesizing of rock, soul, R&B, funk and psychedelia into a danceable music – helped bring diverse audiences together, with their greatest triumph coming at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. During their unforgettable nighttime set, leader Sly Stone initiated a fevered call-and-response with the audience of 400,000–plus during an electrifying version of “I Want to Take You Higher.” Voters around the world ranked that moment as one of the greatest festival moments of all time, and it is included in the Rock Hall's feature exhibit, Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience.
The group connected with the rising counterculture by means of songs that addressed issues of personal pride and liberation in the context of driving, insistent and sunny-tempered music that fused rock and soul, creating a template for 70s funk. As proof that they were reaching a rainbow coalition among the young, Sly and the Family Stone dominated the late 60s charts with such essential singles as “Dance to ...