Paul Simon – Genius Songwriter, Acoustic Guitar Wizard.
Paul Simon born Oct 13,1941 in Newark,New Jersey is the guitar playing/
singer/songwriting genius behind the Superstar“Simon and Garfunkel” duo.
This duo is part of Americana.With songs like,”Sounds of Silence,” “Mrs Robinson,”
“The Boxer,” “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” “Scarborough Fair,” etc...
A lot of musical purists also consider this duo as one of the pioneers
in the electric folk-rock genre.
The list of classic hits he has written goes on and on.
And then on top of that music,there's also his solo career.
Solo Paul Simon songs would include...”Kodachrome,” “Yon Can Call Me Al,”
“Mother Child Reunion,” “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,” etc...
PS has had a mind boggling career and string of hit records. He is considered
to be one of the very best songwriters in America, and the world
for that matter.
Let's talk about his amazing guitar playing.
For a more in-depth analysis of the PS guitar style
go to my instructional video at the bottom of this page.
Paul Simon met Art Garfunkel when they were very young
and both lived in New York.
They discovered they both had a mutual
love of music and they started to sing and harmonize together.
Along the same vein as the “Everly Brothers” harmonies.
And Paul would play the guitar as they sung. The two
had an off and on again working musical relationship.
Paul Simon struck off on his own as a one-man band playing the folk music
circuit in the early 1960's. Even in this early stage of his music career
it was very evident to his guitar playing folk music peers,that he was miles
ahead of them in his guitar playing and accompaniment skills.
As well as being a great musician PS could also write original songs.
Paul already had the “Travis Picking” or “Chet Atkins” style down pat.
And could play guitar melodies,and that includes all the tricks like,
2 note hammer ons,slurs,pull-offs,etc...plus he could do the very cool
open string chords and open string licks like the guitar intro that
he uses on “The Boxer.”
Most of the other guitar playing folk music artists were strictly
1-IV-V players. But I should also mention that as well as
Paul Simon there was another musical heavyweight during this early to mid
1960's folk music resurgence, the harmonica/guitar playing/songwriting/
genius/ “Bob Dylan” aka “Robert Zimmerman”whom was also making a name
I was knocked off my feet...and no I wasn't drunk or stoned...that came later,
in the mid 1960's when I first heard
Paul Simon's guitar intro on the “Simon and Garfunkel” song,
“Homeward Bound.” I thought that was the coolest intro I'd ever heard.
Those Paul Simon chords just blew me away. And at that time there was no
such thing as Paul Simon Tabs that would show you how to play guitar licks,you had to listen and workout everything
on the record player.
I'd been playing guitar for about 1 year then,and I thought I could figure
out how to play the intro...I don't know what I was thinking or smoking at that time,
because I had no idea how Paul played it. Now thinking back
to that time I couldn't even tune a guitar or play Barre chords.
So that just shows you the mentality I had back then thinking I was a lot better
guitar player when in fact I knew nothing.
But lets get back to the song “Homeward Bound.”
I'm going to tell you how he plays it but be aware that he uses a guitar capo
on this song as well as some other “Simon and Garfunkel” songs.
. This is the non-capo version.
PS starts the guitar intro off with these beautiful 2 note doublestop hammer ons.
Their played in 3rds,here's how he's playing them.
Let's assume the song is in the key of Bb Maj.
You pluck all these 2 note doublestops with the 1st and 2nd fingers of
your right hand.
1st finger bars and holds down the G and B strings at the 3rd fret.
Hammer on the 4th and 5th fret with the 2nd and 3rd finger
simultaneously. 2nd finger on the Eb note 2nd string 4th fret,
then the 3rd finger on the C note 3rd string 5th fret. Remember to pluck these
2 notes together at the same time. Then back to your 1st finger 2 note bar of the
G and B strings at the 3rd fret.
Then the Ab note on the 4th string 6th fret played with the 4th finger,
played together with the C note on the 3rd string at the 5th fret played
with the 3rd finger.
Then the G note on the 4th string 5th fret played with 3rd finger,
played together with the Bb note 3rd string, 3rd fret played with the 1st finger.
Then the Eb note on the 5th string 6th fret played with the 4th finger,
played together with the G note on the 4th string 5th fret played with the
Then the F note on the 4th string 3rd fret played with the 1st finger,
played together with the Bb note on the 3rd string 3rd fret played with
the 1st finger.
When that song with those great Paul Simon Lyrics came out,
I'd never heard a better guitar intro than that in my life. It really
cemented my desire to become a guitar player.
PS is also a very knowledgeable guitarist,he has a thorough
understanding of harmony,and how chords work on the guitar.
He knows all the slick jazz chords the Min 7b5,Diminished,
7b9, Maj 6/9,etc...and uses them in his songwriting.
The Paul Simon Greatest Hits catalogue spans over decades right up
to present day.
PS has won more awards than Tiger Woods has girlfriends. He is in
the Rock n' Roll hall of fame,The Songwriters Hall of Fame...Gosh the
only hall that I was in was the detention hall at school,and it wasn't
considered a hall of fame just a hall of boneheads... His song “Mrs Robinson”
is in the top ten of “The American Film Institute's 100 Years !00 Songs.”
Let's not forget all the Grammys he's won,film scores he's written,
also he was the 1st recipient of the “Gershwin Prize For Popular Song,”
“The Lifetime Achievement Award,”...Geez...where does a guy find a
big enough mantle to hold all this music hardware?
PS also worked with George Harrison and he knew John Lennon.
My gosh...that's half of “The Beatles.”
Go to Paul Simon YouTube to the “Barnes And Noble interview and there's
an amazing discussion and demo of how PS uses chords and writes songs.
This Paul Simon video also covers how he wrote “Graceland” and a lot of
his intellectual thoughts on writing music It's very interesting!
To end off this PS discussion I'll talk a bit about his guitars. He is a very
famous acoustic guitarist. He has played Taylor,Martin,Yamaha,Takamine
Classical,Fender Acoustic...heck, PS has even played electric Fender Jaguar,
and Stratocaster models . PS also has some Martin,and Yamaha signature models
named after him.