Paul Simon wrapping up Homeward Bound tour with stop in Pittsburgh
It’s a night that diehard Paul Simon fans hoped would never come.
The last leg of Simon’s Homeward Bound — The Farewell Tour is winding down to its few remaining performances, including a concert Sept. 17 at PPG Paints Arena before he gives his final concerts in his home state of New York — in Madison Square Garden on Sept. 20-21 and in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in his native borough of Queens on Sept. 22.
Simon is wrapping up a career that spans 60 years and includes an impressive catalog of songs — from “America,” Still Crazy After All These Years” and “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” to “Mother and Child Reunion,” “Kodachrome,” “The Boxer” and “Bridge Over Trouble Water” and many more.
New studio album
On the bright side, the 76-year-old singer, songwriter and musician leaves a souvenir of his success in the music business with his latest collection of his sounds on his 14th studio album, “In the Blue Light,” released Sept. 7.
The work features Simon and other musicians who joined him to offer new arrangements of 10 of his favorite songs over the years from among his albums, including “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon” (1973), “Still Crazy After All These Years” (1975), “One-Trick Pony” (1980), “Hearts and Bones” (1983), “The Rhythm of the Saints” (1990), “You’re the One” (2000) and “So Beautiful or So What” (2011).
And of course, there’s a collection of Homeward Bound Tour merchandise on his website that ranges from a Graceland silk/wool twill scarf for $134.99 to less pricey T-shirts, a license plate holder and a “50 Ways Black Motel Keychain” for $4.99 inscribed with words from his hit song, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”: “Slip out the back, Jack, Make a new plan, Stan, You don’t need to be coy, Roy, Hop on the bus, Gus.”
Marketing opportunities aside, Simon did leave his unforgettable mark on a generation of fans, both in his solo career and as part of the ’60s folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel.
Who can forget his concert in Hyde Park in London in 2012, or Simon & Garfunkel’s famous reunion free benefit concert for more than 500,000 people in New York City’s Central Park in 1981?
Simon’s set list from other recent concerts on his farewell tour includes 18 musical numbers followed by two encores featuring a total of eight more hit songs, and ending appropriately with “The Sound of Silence,” the 1964 hit song from Simon & Garfunkel’s first album.
Honors and awards
Simon’s honors include 12 Grammy Awards, with three Album of the Year awards for “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Still Crazy After All These Years” and “Graceland” and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 as part of Simon & Garfunkel. He is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, a recipient of the Hall of Fame’s Johnny Mercer Award and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, both as a member of Simon & Garfunkel and as a solo artist.
His song “Mrs. Robinson” from the 1967 movie “The Graduate” was one of the top 10 of the American Film Institute’s “100 Years … 100 Songs.”
When he first announced his farewell tour, Simon said, “I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to reach the point where I’d consider bringing my performing career to a natural end. Now I know: It feels a little unsettling, a touch exhilarating, and something of a relief.”
A few weeks ago, he told The Telegraph in London that he’s ready for a rest.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 16; I’ve never taken a break and never really seriously thought about anything else other than music,” he said. “So I thought … stop! See what happens. See what stopping does. Even saying it aloud sounds interesting.”
He said he wants to travel to places he hasn’t been, such as the South Pacific Islands and Cambodia. And he “might go travel around” with his wife, singer-songwriter Edie Brickell, and her band. “That’s a real possibility. It’s sort of her turn,” he said.
Simon’s last performance in Pittsburgh was as part of Simon & Garfunkel in 2004.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.