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Drtrey3's picture
Last seen: 7 years 5 months ago
Joined: Aug 17 2008 - 2:52pm
Paul Simon a rip off artist?

I was reading Robert Baird's review of Paul Somon's latest album and was struck where he seemed to infer that a case can be made that Paul Simon rips off other culture's music. I had never heard or thought this. Certainly he has embraced and utilized world music, I think to great effect, but how can you rip off music short of Ice Ice Baby? Pat Boone, who did the sanitized versions of early R&B stuff was beloved by the artists whose songs he covered because they got paid because of his sales! I do regret that American culture was so racist at that time that Little Richard needed a white beard, but I cannot blame Pat for hearing a great song and covering them.

Paul is borrowing less heavily than that. He employs great players who I am sure enjoy the work, pay, and exposure they get from working with him. The complaint that he is practicing cultural theft just seems weak and contrived to me. Am I alone in this, or can someone set me straight?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


jazzfan's picture
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
I agree


I completely agree with everything you wrote. For example after Paul Simon's Graceland dominated the pop charts upon it's release back in the mid 1980s Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a South American vocal group almost completely unknown outside of their own country, that was heavily featured on Simon's album went to worldwide fame. As a matter of fact I consider to Paul Simon to be the role model for how to incorporate many different culture's music into another culture's music with dignity, respect and, most importantly, to the mutual benefit of all parties cvoncerned, including the listeners.

Dr. Spivey
Dr. Spivey's picture
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: Sep 18 2009 - 5:21pm
Me Too

And in the same vein, lets give an honorable mention to Ry Cooder.

For some strange reason there are a lot of folks who love to bash Paul Simon, I guess that comes with success.

Allen Fant
Allen Fant's picture
Last seen: 1 week 21 hours ago
Joined: Sep 12 2010 - 3:42pm
This is not the 1st time PS

This is not the 1st time PS has been accused of ripping off other artists. Remember that fiasco involving Los Lobos and the Graceland album?

Drtrey3's picture
Last seen: 7 years 5 months ago
Joined: Aug 17 2008 - 2:52pm
I had not read that

so thanks for mentioning the fiasco to me! From what I found, fiasco is the best word, and I do not know who to believe. Lots of drama in the issue though. Perhaps that is what Robert baird was referring to and I was too out of the loop to get the reference. Not the first time that happened, and it won't be the last! So thanks for cluing me in a bit.



Brown Sound
Brown Sound's picture
Last seen: 5 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: Sep 17 2005 - 7:17pm
No rip off here...

I applaud artists like Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and Ry Cooder for helping to open our ears to the music of other cultures. As long as they don’t claim they solely created the music, now that would a bit slimy. I’d be more worried about who Coldplay is (cough, cough) paraphrasing for this year’s release. 

Allen Fant
Allen Fant's picture
Last seen: 1 week 21 hours ago
Joined: Sep 12 2010 - 3:42pm
Me as well, I do applaud

Me as well, I do applaud these artists. Remember, there exists a dirty side to the music biz.

Anton's picture
Last seen: 1 week 2 hours ago
Joined: Apr 30 2011 - 1:31pm
I love Los Lobos, but....

I look forward to hearing the Los Lobos version of this song and how they finished it up and made it their own so we can see how their vision differed from paul Simon's!

Steve Berlin on that session:

" I mean he [Simon] quite literally — and in no way do I exaggerate when I say — he stole the songs from us…."

Not just one song, it seems, but "songs," plural?

He goes on...

"At the time, we were high on the musical food chain. Paul had just come off One Trick Pony and was kind of floundering. People forget, before Graceland, he was viewed as a colossal failure."

I may be the world's biggest Los Lobos fan and I have never thought of them as being all that "high on the foodchain."

More from Steve Berlin...

"It was ridiculous. I think David starts playing “The Myth of the Fingerprints,” or whatever he ended up calling it. That was one of our songs. That year, that was a song we started working on By Light of The Moon. So that was like an existing Lobos sketch of an idea that we had already started doing. I don’t think there were any recordings of it, but we had messed around with it. We knew we were gonna do it. It was gonna turn into a song."


Was it a song, or not?

"We were definitely maybe gonna do something with that "sketch of an idea" at some point and turn it into that exact same song, but we never did, and Paul stole it."


Last Steve Berlin bit...

"But it was very clear to us, at the moment, we’re thinking he’s doing one of our songs. It would be like if he did “Will the Wolf Survive?” Literally."

Literally? "How Will the Wolf Survive" is a sketch of an idea they've been meaning to someday turn into a song?

Maybe Los Lobos should finish the damn song and show us what Paul stole!

RGibran's picture
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Oct 11 2005 - 5:50pm
Usual Funny Chit!

Delight to see you post again.


BillB's picture
Last seen: 9 years 5 months ago
Joined: Aug 15 2007 - 2:04pm
What struck me about RB's

What struck me about RB's review were the lyrics he quoted, to demonstrate P. Simon dealing with big religious themes.  But the quotes he picked were all of a trivial or slightly humorous/whimsical nature, which almost contradicted the reviewer's point.

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