Monday, November 14, 2016

Peter Ames Carlin, Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon

Peter Ames Carlin, Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon
Henry Holt © 2016
ISBN 978-1-62779-034-5

A detailed account of the life and music of Paul Simon, the book left me with something of an empty feeling.  Carlin recounts the events of Simon’s live (as well as one can tell) accurately, but there’s a strange flatness to the book.  And some things one might have thought would have been mentioned earlier seem to pop up out of nowhere.  (For example, on p. 352: “Younger brother Eddie was the first to take up the guitar and became the better player of the two boys.”  Why leave this until the next-to-last chapter of the book?  Or, on p. 373—two pages before the book ends: “I heard from his co-manager and brother Eddie a few times…”)

I also came away from the book that Carlin, in the end did not much care for Paul Simon the man (start about half-way down p. 373 and to the first paragraph on p. 374, for one final example of that); I also got the feeling that, much as he tried to praise the music, he mostly got hat wrong as well.  (I’m not even going to try to get into that, because it’s a matter of how his discussion of the music feels, and that’s a fairly evanescent thing.)  (On the other hand, I think he’s much to kind to the songs that make up the failed musical The Capeman, although perhaps I should listen to it again.)

Unless you really a fan of Paul Simon’s music (and keeping in mind Joan Baez’s words from “Winds of the Old Days:” 

Singer or savior, it was his to choose
Which of us knows what was his to lose
Because idols are best when they're made of stone
A savior's a nuisance to live with at home
Stars often fall, heroes go unsung
And martyrs most certainly die too young

I think you can skip this one.  Although I am glad I read it.

No comments:

Post a Comment