“I was referred to a doctor who said, ‘I think I know what’s wrong. And I can fix it with this procedure.’ I so much wanted that to be true and went ahead. After that procedure, I nearly lost everything. That ear was at about 40% hearing and it went down to about 8%.”
Paul Simon opens his heart to Paul Muldoon – the finest poet working in the English language today – as the two greats bond over their shared addiction to creativity. They also discuss the source of Simon’s inspiration – as he reveals how Seven Psalms began four years ago with an intense dream.
“I had a dream on 15 January 15 2019,” he told Muldoon. “And the dream said, ‘You’re working on a piece called Seven Psalms.’ It was so vivid that I woke up and wrote it down, which is not typical of me. Nor do I take instructions from my dreams. But this was a very powerful dream. And it was also the anniversary of my father’s passing, which is probably just a coincidence. If you believe in coincidence, which I do.”
The lyrics also came to him in the night, he says.
“I started waking up in the middle of the night, three or four nights a week, always at the same time, between 3:30 and 5am. And I’d just write down these words were that were coming.
“It’s something I’m sure you’ve experienced,” Simon continued. “Which is when you have a sudden flow of information. In your case, and in my case, it will be words, or music, and it flows very freely from a source that you can’t identify. It has a natural quality to it. And sometimes something more to it. I realised years ago that I had been experiencing those moments for much of my life.
“For example, when I wrote The Sound of Silence, when I was 22 years old, I thought, ‘Well, that’s probably my best song. I can close this set with this.’ When I wrote Bridge Over Troubled Water, I thought, ‘That’s better than I usually write.’ And it came quickly.
“Same happened with the song Graceland. And now I realise there are times when you’re in what you could call ‘flow’. When it’s easy to write and time doesn’t exist.”
The poetic pair have come together exclusively for The Big Issue. Paul Muldoon praised Simon for his “regard for the poorest of the poor” in the lyrics to his new LP, which he noted will have “particular resonance for readers of The Big Issue.”
As he explained what an impact giving this interview will have, Simon responded, paying tribute to The Big Issue and our readers. “Thank you,” said Simon. “That’s a gift to me from the magazine and the readership.”
Read the full interview here.
The incredible conversation between Paul Simon and Paul Muldoon – two creative geniuses – is available to read in full only in The Big Issue magazine from Monday 22 May.
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Paul Simon’s new LP Seven Psalms is out now