Paul Simon will not be the last person to be compared to Bob Dylan, but he was among the first back in the mid-60s. The 69-year-old has now vented his frustrations at constantly being compared with the great bard of folk-rock, Mr Dylan.
Speaking in an interview with Rolling Stone, Simon said of comparisons between the two, “I usually come in second. I don’t like coming in second.”
He added that such judgments are fruitless anyway, as the two are vastly different artists, especially vocally. He explained, “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. Rock ‘n’ roll has a lot to do with image. If that’s not your strength, people find fault with the work.”
And that is a very reasonable point.
He went on, saying, “In the very, very 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 weren’t folky anymore.”
In what promises to be a revealing interview, he added that despite all their ups and downs, he hopes he and Art Garfunkel might tour together again once Garfunkel has recovered from problems with his vocal cords.
He says, “Truth is, I really do enjoy singing with Artie. There was something very emotional we were getting from the audience [on our last reunion tour]. The relationship was repaired during that tour. That tour had a big effect on people. People knew we were close friends who’d had a hurtful rift. We said, ‘Life’s too short.’ And the symbolism kind of struck a lot of people who’d had similar struggles in their own lives.”
Here is a 1977 performance of Simon performing one of his best tracks in the years between Simon & Garfunkel and his landmark 1986 LP, Graceland.