I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
Still Playing After all these Years
Paul Simon will call at Manchester Arena, Glasgow (SSE Hydro), Dublin (ROS Arena) and London (Hyde Park, British Summer Time festival) for the last European dates of his Homeward Bound tour.
He will be joined at Hyde Park on 15 July by his near-contemporaries - James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt. It will be something of a (European) retirement party for Mr Simon - at least so far as major tours and gigs are concerned.
In a statement on his website in February, he said: "I feel the travel and time away from my wife and family takes a toll that detracts from the joy of playing."
He added: "I'd like to leave with a big Thank You to the many folks around the world who've come out to watch me play over the last 50 years."
Paul Simon playing at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. By Matthew Straubmuller (imatty35) -https://www.flickr.com/photos/imatty35/5766935439/, CC BY 2.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20330448
It has been a long road to retirement for Paul Frederic Simon, who was born in New Jersey in 1941. His career began as a 15-year-old when he and school-friend Art Garfunkel reached number 49 in the US Billboard national pop chart. Their Everly Brothers inspired single - Hey, Schoolgirl, spun a tale of skipping class and teenage seduction.
Simon & Garfunkel got to know each other when they both performed in a production of Alice in Wonderland at Public School 164 in Flushing, New York. Their chart-topping albums included Wednesday Morning, 3 AM and Sounds of Silence.
Their 1968 hit Mrs Robinson was famously used on the soundtrack of the film The Graduate. The lyrics vividly depict America in the 1950's and 60s, with their references to cupcakes, the candidate's debate and baseball star Joe DiMaggio (one of Marilyn Monroe's husbands).
The song's references to affluent suburban home-life are intercut with more sinister instructions to 'stroll around the grounds UNTIL you feel at home' and the assessment: "Every way you look at this you lose."
Simon & Garfunkel split in 1970, after they hit number 1 in the UK and USA with the album and title track Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Simon & Garfunkel at Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands in 1966. By Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 - negatiefstroken zwart/wit, nummer toegang 2.24.01.05, bestanddeelnummer 919-3036 - Nationaal Archief, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20721087
The song which inspired the name of the tour currently underway is commemorated in the UK North West town - Widnes. A plaque at the railway station says: "At Widnes Station in 1965 Paul Simon wrote the Song Homeward Bound."
Paul Simon's solo career included the 1986 album Graceland. The album - inspired by a bootleg cassette of South African township music - was controversial because it broke the cultural boycott imposed by the rest of the world against the apartheid regime in South Africa.
With that regime now happily part of history, it is easier for all Paul Simon's fans to dance to infectious hits like The Boy in the Bubble, You Can Call Me Al and Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.
Paul Simon's 2016 album - Stranger to Stranger, includes a song called Wristband about a singer barred from his own concert. The lyrics then broaden into references to social exclusion, including: "Kids that can't afford the cool brand."
CC BY 2.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1900123
Having pitched off in Vancouver on 16 May, the Homeward Bound tour will end in New York (Flushing Meadows Corona Park) on 22nd September - close to Simon's childhood home and the Forest Hills High School he attended with Art Garfunkel.
In his February statement Paul Simon said: "After this coming tour, I anticipate doing the occasional performance in a (hopefully) acoustically pristine hall, and to donate those earnings to various philanthropic organizations, particularly those whose objective is to save the planet, ecologically."
The British Summer Time (BST) festival in Hyde Park also features Roger Waters (6th July), The Cure (7th July), Eric Clapton (8th July), Michael Buble (13th July), Bruno Mars (14th July).