It’s unlikely that Paul Simon will be returning to live performances anytime soon.
In a new interview with the Sunday Times, the legendary singer-songwriter, 81, opened up about losing part of his hearing while working on his latest album, Seven Psalms, which has put any performing plans on pause.
“Quite suddenly I lost most of the hearing in my left ear, and nobody has an explanation for it. So everything became more difficult,” Simon explained. “My reaction to that was frustration and annoyance; not quite anger yet, because I thought it would pass, it would repair itself.”
But his hearing has yet to be restored. According to Simon, it’s part of a string of health challenges he’s faced in recent years.
“Boy, have I been beaten up in these last couple of years,” he noted, pointing out a tough struggle with COVID-19. “But I look good, right?”
The changing tide for his fellow musical luminaries weighs heavily on Simon. He recognizes that “it’s just the age we’re at,” and cited the recent deaths of Gordon Lightfoot, who passed away earlier this month, and Jeff Beck, who died in January. “My generation’s time is up.” But with his journey into his 80s also comes the ability to strictly pursue things that inspire him. That means avoiding certain songs from his past.
“The songs of mine that I don’t want to sing live, I don’t sing them. Sometimes there are songs that I like and then at a certain point in a tour, I’ll say, ‘What the f*** are you doing, Paul?’ Quite often that would come during ‘You Can Call Me Al,’“ he explained. “I’d think, ‘What are you doing? You’re like a Paul Simon cover band. You should get off the road, go home.’”
Luckily, the “Graceland” maestro has found peace in his personal life. He’s very happy living on a sprawling Texas ranch with his wife, musician Edie Brickell, and he’s not particularly interested in returning to his East Coast roots.
“I’m not drawn back to New York at all,” Simon said. “I’m happy here or winter in Hawaii (where he has a house). I don’t want to be in cold weather if I can help it.”