When Paul Simon decided it was time for a new album, he wasn't exactly sure what to say ? or how to say it, reports AP writer Larry McShane.
"It might be that it gets more difficult as you get older," Simon mused about the writing process. "It might also be that it was just a period of time that required me to rethink a lot of my musical and lyrical premises, and think, `What could I say that I wouldn't feel was just unnecessary, irrelevant, stupid?'"
It took three years to figure it all out, and the answer was "Surprise" ? the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's first album since "You're the One" in 2000.
It's a long time between music, but here's a quick demonstration of Simon's songwriting brilliance and staying power: "Surprise" comes 20 years after "Graceland," his Grammy-winning collaboration with South African musicians ? and that came 20 years after "Sounds of Silence," where Simon worked with lifelong friend Art Garfunkel.
On the new album, due in stores May 9, the 64-year-old Simon brings aboard an unlikely new collaborator: Brian Eno, the avant-garde artist best known for his musical work with Robert Fripp, Talking Heads, David Bowie and U2.
It's not as strange as it (or the resulting album) sounds. "We're both 'sounds' people," Simon explained. "We're both about soundscapes. I thought he would bring an element that I hadn't ever encountered before, electronics, into a guitar record. Theoretically, it seemed to be a good idea. And when we actually did it, you could tell right away it was a good idea."
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