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Miracle and Wonder: Conversations with Paul Simon

Audible / Online / Music / Podcasts

If the recent Beatles documentary Get Back had one flaw it was this: Sure, we could see what they were doing, but how many times did you want to scream out to Paul while he was working out “The Long and Winding Road” in real time, before your eyes, Stop! How in hell are you doing that?! Which is why this audio book by Malcolm Gladwell, which focuses on another Paul—this one being one half of Simon and Garfunkel—is such a welcome revelation. Across 30 hours of conversation, Gladwell gets the singer-songwriter to reveal how he constructed so many of our treasured songs, from “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (who knew it began with a Bach chorale!) to “The Boxer” to “Only Living Boy in New York.” Simon also discusses the hundreds of hours of effort and experimentation he puts into building a song that can be as brief as three minutes. So many artists can never articulate the how of what they do. It’s all the more reason this is a wonder of a document from Simon, a poet in his own right. There’s inspiration here for anyone who loves art and wants to understand their own creative process—especially when we learn Simon believes there is no failure, only experimentation that leads to success. Bonus: the part where Sting talks about hearing the song “America” as a young boy in the U.K. and how it changed his life. It’ll bring tears to your eyes. —Michael Hainey

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