Paul Simon, Song by Song

“The Obvious Child”:

Hard to imagine a more ebullient introduction to a show than to witness the Brazilian percussion ensemble Olodum get a park filled with revelers on its feet.

“The Boy in the Bubble”:

Handclaps, a wordless sing-along, jaunty accordion and South African groove meet Louisiana zydeco.

She Moves On”:

Simon sings about his breakup with Carrie Fisher while the brass section brings jazzy commentary.


Bassist Armand Sabal-Lecco leads a vivid overhaul of the Simon hit, even quoting Donovan’s “Jennifer Juniper” at one point.

“Born at the Right Time”:

A matrix of finger-picked guitars over simmering percussion.

“Train in the Distance”:

Guitarist Vincent Nguini weaves spiderwebs of notes around Simon’s wistful lyrics.

“Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”:

Brazilian samba with zydeco accents and Simon’s whistling.

“I Know What I Know”:

Simon sends up small talk at a New York City party over Ray Phiri’s guitar groove and sassy horns.

“The Cool, Cool River”:

A gorgeous prayer with atmospheric, finger-picked guitar that builds to a triumphant, horn-punctuated finale.

“Bridge over Troubled Water”:

Gospel harmonies with a reggae underpinning.


“It’s a perfect night in New York City,” Simon says, and so it is.

“Dogs in the Wine Shop”:

A showcase for saxophonist Michael Brecker, a fixture on key Simon studio sessions and a towering figure in jazz.

“The Coast”:

Can music make you feel like you’re floating? Here’s your answer.


One of Simon’s towering achievements, as he channels the mystic power of Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train.”

“You Can Call Me Al”:

So much fun he does it twice, a frequent occurrence on this tour. This time, Simon is joined by “Saturday Night Live” alum and saxophonist Chevy Chase, formerly in a band with the pre-Steely-Dan-era Donald Fagen and Walter Becker.

“Still Crazy After All These Years”:

A sparse version of Simon’s ‘70s hit.

“Loves Me Like a Rock”:

Simon’s voice rises to a falsetto in the call-and-response with backing vocalists the Waters siblings.

“Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes”:

More gospel vocals with an exuberant percussion workout to finish things off.

“Hearts and Bones”:

A moment to catch your breath with some low-key melancholy.

“Late in the Evening”:

Drummer Steve Gadd’s Cuban rhythm anchored the original recording, now augmented by a company of percussionists.


Simon echoes his younger self looking ahead to what’s next. Could he have imagined a night like this?

“The Boxer”:

An ode to persistence that still feels relevant.


The Simon and Garfunkel romp gets a Cajun makeover, with Simon on harmonica.

“The Sound of Silence”:

Closing hymn.

Greg Kot is the editorial director of The Coda Collection. He is also the cohost of the nationally syndicated public-radio show and podcast “Sound Opinions” with Jim DeRogatis, and previously the music critic at the Chicago Tribune for 30 years. His books include acclaimed biographies of Mavis Staples (“I’ll Take You There”) and Wilco (“Learning How to Die”) and a history of the digital music revolution (“Ripped”). He also coauthored “The Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones: Sound Opinions on the Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Rivalry” and has written extensively for Rolling Stone, BBC Culture and Encyclopedia Britannica. When he takes off the headphones, Kot coaches in his Chicago-based youth travel basketball program ( In addition, he has coauthored two best-selling editions of the book “Survival Guide to Coaching Youth Basketball.”

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