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Paul Simon Exhibit Lands in Los Angeles

Personal items from the singer-songwriter’s legendary six-decade career are now on display at the Skirball Cultural Center

Jonathan Zalman
May 01, 2017
Paul Simon (L) and ArtFacebook

Last I heard from Paul Simon was during the presidential campaign season, when Bernie Sanders used Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” in a powerful ad that, along with a performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” during the DNC, couldn’t quite push the Senator from Vermont (or Hillary, for that matter), into the White House. The legendary singer-songwriter is still making music, too, having released his 13th solo album last summer. He’s now 75 years old; so is Barbra Streisand.

In October 2014, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, created an exhibit dedicated to Simon’s career that spans six decades. It made a brief stop at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore and is now making its way to the West Coast, apparently its only stop there, at the Skirball Cultural Center. On view in the “Paul Simon: Words & Music” exhibit are “instruments, records, sheet music, handwritten lyrics, photography, costumes, and stage maquettes, as well as listening stations and performance footage.”

According to the curator who was interviewed by LA Weekly, Simon has meticulously kept his personal archives, including Simon and Garfunkel’s original record contract they signed when they were both 15 years old, Simon’s first guitar, and a jacket he wore during one of his first few gigs.

There are even more personal items, such as a letter from Simon to Garfunkel over a summer when they were at different camps, on Simon’s letterhead no less, his youthful tone spilling all over the news he was sending to “Artie.” There’s a United Airlines in-flight magazine with the lyrics to “The Boxer” scribbled in an article’s margins, and a guitar strap with numerous buttons and badges from his seemingly endless touring following the 1986 release of Graceland.

“Paul Simon: Words & Music” runs at the Skirball Cultural Center April 27 through September 3.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.

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