Born on this day in Newark, New Jersey and raised in Queens, New York, pop star Paul Frederic Simon (1941-), one of the most literate songwriters of his generation, squeaked in at number 100 in VH1's "Greatest Artists in Rock N' Roll" poll.
Some of us would demand a recount. (Of course, he and former partner Art Garfunkel's 72nd ranking on the same list, above Johnny Cash, Tina Turner, and Santana, seems an ironic consolation.)
Along with childhood friend Garfunkel, Simon released his debut album, Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. in 1964, dominating the charts with the single Sounds of Silence, one of dozens of classics that he has crafted; sophisticated songs with timeless lyrics. "Sometimes even music can't substitute for tears," wrote Simon eloquently.
A solo Simon released the highly-acclaimed Graceland in 1986, a groundbreaking album recorded in Johannesburg, South Africa and featured joyous reggae rhythms and vocals.
In the summer and fall of 1999, he toured with Bob Dylan who praised Simon as "one of the pre-eminent songwriters of the times. Every song he does has got a vitality you don't find everywhere."
In October 2000, Simon released You're The One, his first album in nine years. "My birthday's here and all my friends stand up and cheer, say 'Man, you old,'" he wrote in the very clever and self-deprecating new song Old, "Wisdom is old, the Koran is old.. the Bible is old, the Greatest Story Ever Told...God is old, he made the mold."
After all these years, Simon is still rhymin'.
"Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down..."