Paul Simon (Credit: Myrna Suarez)
"And we walked off to look for America..."

Legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon on how to avoid the trappings of fame...

- - -

- - -

OWN YOUR WORK
What I learned, at a very early age, was that I didn’t have to give my publishing away. So, by the time I was in my early-20s, I stopped doing that and I made my own publishing company. I think the first song that I wrote and put in it was ‘The Sound Of Silence’. I’ve had all my own songs all that time. If you can keep your publishing, that’s invaluable. It’s hard - people want it - but I think the writer is entitled to it.

GROW YOUR OWN WAY
I think that fame is quite toxic, period, and the earlier you get it the more difficult it is to absorb it without it having some negative effect upon the famous person. So I would say that early work and early fame, it’s good to leave it when you can because if you’re a big star at 16, you’ll want to disavow what you did by the time you’re 24 anyway. If you’re famous for being a child star then it becomes something of a burden that you carry around.

- - -

- - -

HANDLE THE CHANGE
I’ve never known anyone, ever, who went from obscurity to fame, who didn’t have at least a period of confusion, where you try to sort out what’s real and what isn’t real, and it’s going to take a while because there is so much misinformation that comes. Those that get it right or put it in a way that ensures that they stay healthy and functioning, they’re fortunate, and the ones that don’t get it right, they have to pay an enormous price for this thing called fame, which is not good for much other than helping other people. It’s not good for the individual, I guess.

DON’T MIX FAME WITH ART
It’s not good. It doesn’t do you any good. It’s not bad if you want to start a clothing line, I guess, but it’s not good for the work. If you’re really in love with what you create and not in love with your ego then you want to be sort of as quiet as you can. If you’re a musician, listen very carefully to different music and to the music that you love.

- - -

- - -

KNOW YOUR CRAFT
I don’t see any harm in learning the fundamentals of music. You can always discard the rules or modify the traditional rules. I think it’s to your advantage to know music, and the same goes for reading; it’s good to read. These are all things that are not particularly talked about today, and the bigger stars, they don’t really seem to be interested in that.

- - -

- - -

The album ‘Stranger To Stranger’ is out now on Virgin EMI.

Words: Simon Harper

-

Follow Clash: