In 2007, Paul Simon was the first winner of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
I heard of Simon and Garfunkel when I was in college. Their first hit was “The Sounds of Silence” which arrived in 1965-6. In time, they split up and Simon became an outstanding singer-songwriter with a large repertoire, collection of hits, and variety of musical styles. I chose to write about my 16 favorite songs of his (some with Art Garfunkel) and stumbled upon the technique of “bracketology” to evaluate almost any group of things (eg, songs, teams, favorite vacations, etc.) after reading the book “The Final Four of Everything,” edited by Mark Reiter and Richard Sandomir. My “best 16” is only my opinion. You may wish to use the technique to rank your best of Simon’s work –or anything else. (Hey, if its good enough to evaluate the “64” best college basketball teams every year, we can use the idea to find out our best of anything. For example, what is your favorite flavor of ice cream?)
I’ll start with these 8 combinations of songs. I’m saving time by shortening this article from 64 to 32 to 16 songs.
The Sounds of Silence OR American Tune: The “Tune” is better than “Silence.” The first hit loses to a later favorite of mine (covered by Willie Nelson).
Born at the Right Time OR Still Crazy After All These Years: “Crazy” beats the “Right Time.” An “old lover” returns –and wins.
Slip Slidin’ Away OR Homeward Bound: “Slip” slides to a close decision while bound for home.
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover OR Late in the Evening: Apparently, THE best time to leave your lover is “Late in the Evening.”
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes OR The Obvious Child: Are “Diamonds” more valuable than an “Obvious Child?” Only when comparing these 2 songs.
You Can Call Me Al OR The Boxer: “Boxer” wins a close decision over “Al” (who was probably the favorite going in).
Graceland OR The Boy in the Bubble: The “Boy” is fine in the bubble, but “Graceland” is a better destination. (Elvis is there.)
Bridge over Troubled Water OR Under African Skies: “Skies” has Linda Ronstadt in it (there isn’t a better voice anywhere), but “Troubled Water” has Art singing notes I can’t imagine, and EVERYBODY likes them.
Now, going from 8 to 4……………
American Tune OR Still Crazy After All These Years: “Crazy” doesn’t win all the time, especially if the “Tune” is good enough.
Late in the Evening OR Slip Slidin’ Away: It’s “Late in the Evening” and it’s competition has slipped away.
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes OR The Boxer: “The Boxer” can win titles, but “Diamonds” are a girl’s (and my) best friend.
Graceland OR Bridge over Troubled Water: Even Elvis’ “Graceland” can’t get over ”Troubled Water.
And, now, going from 4 to 2…………………
American Tune OR Late in the Evening: The”Tune” is better morning, noon, and evening.
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes OR Bridge over Troubled water: The “Bridge” triumphs over troubled water, “Diamonds” and just about everything else.
Finally, going from 2 to #1……………….
American Tune OR Bridge Over Troubled Water: The “Tune” uses its “home field advantage” (ie, I created the brackets and chose the winners) to cross over the “Bridge.”
Paul Simon, IMO, provided the most significant music and voice for my generation.
And, yes, a 16 song competition could easily turn into a 32 or 64 song tournament. It would be enjoyable listening for anyone, since anyone could choose the entrants –and a winner. Remember: my list is not THE list or YOUR list. It’s just my mine. Pick your artist, chose as many songs as you want, create your brackets, and decide your winner. You’ll enjoy the “tournament” and know who to place your bets on.
PS = Let’s be honest. You could be blindfolded and pick a song from “Graceland” or “The Rhythm of the Saints” and have a “winner.” For me, “American Tune” is the anthem for my generation. So, this deck was stacked, folks. Make choices the way you want. It’s all you can do. “You can’t be forever blessed.”