Paul Simon maintains he’s at peace at allowing his creative life to end as he enjoys being 80. Simon talks about retirement — among many others topics — in his new audio biography, Miracle And Wonder: Conversations With Paul Simon, which was co-created with Malcolm Gladwell and New York Times journalist Bruce Headlam.
Simon shed light on when he knew it was time to cool things down, recalling, “After I finished the (2016) album Stranger To Stranger, it was like, literally a click that said, ‘I’m done. I think I’m done.’ I said, ‘I don’t think that I can do this any better than I’m doing it right now.’ I think I can do it just as well, but it takes me three years typically to make these kinds of albums. And since I don’t think I can make an album any better than I’m making it now, I think I’d rather spend my three years traveling.”
Simon went on to talk about what, if anything, the future might hold for him creatively: “I think the only logical thing that I can think of to make a future work better is to shut down the process of how I make things now, which is a process that has been evolving since I’m 12. I would have thought that it would have been something that would have been upsetting: ‘Whoa, you’re done.’ There’s something scary about that. But I didn’t feel upset at all. I felt fine — y’know fine.”
Although he’s rated as one of the most serious singer/songwriters of his generation, Paul Simon has long wished that his humor would’ve shined a bit more brightly in his material: “Well, I always put some jokes into my songs, but sometimes they don’t. . . sometimes people don’t read ’em as jokes. I think that’s because most of the time people think of me as very serious, so they’re not expecting a joke to come. And also, there’s something about my voice that it doesn’t tip off a joke. It still sounds serious. I mean, it’s a quality that I wish I could have in my voice; a sense of irony or laughing.”