Paul Simon, the legendary musician and co-founder of the iconic folk duo Simon & Garfunkel, recently revealed a profound challenge in his life – sudden hearing loss.

At 81 years old, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee shared with the Times that his left ear’s hearing deteriorated while recording his latest album, “Seven Psalms,” released on May 19. The unexplained nature of this setback has left Simon frustrated, with the hearing loss making it unlikely for him to ever tour or perform live again.

Paul Simon Illness: A Mysterious Affliction

Paul Simon expressed his bewilderment at the unexplained nature of his sudden hearing loss, stating, “Nobody has an explanation for it.”

paul simon illness

The frustration and annoyance stemming from this unforeseen challenge have been compounded by recent health struggles, including a severe bout of COVID-19. The virus has been linked to irreversible hearing loss in some patients, further complicating Simon’s situation.

Birth and Childhood

Paul Simon, born on October 13, 1941, in Newark, New Jersey, emerged as one of the most influential and celebrated singer-songwriters of his generation. Raised in the Queens neighborhood of Kew Gardens Hills, Simon’s early exposure to music and his natural affinity for it foreshadowed a career that would leave an indelible mark on the world.

paul simon illness

Growing up in a working-class family, =Paul Simon’s childhood was marked by a mix of harmony and discord. His parents, Louis Simon and Belle Simon, provided a supportive environment for his burgeoning musical talents. However, their eventual divorce added a layer of complexity to his formative years, shaping the emotional depth that would later characterize his songwriting.

Harmonizing with Garfunkel

In his teenage years, Simon formed a pivotal musical partnership with Art Garfunkel. The duo first met in elementary school and, recognizing their shared passion for music, began performing together as “Tom & Jerry” in the late 1950s. Their early efforts culminated in a minor hit, “Hey Schoolgirl,” and laid the foundation for their enduring collaboration.

paul simon illness

Transitioning from their “Tom & Jerry” days, Simon & Garfunkel emerged as a prominent folk duo in the 1960s. Their harmonious blend of Simon’s songwriting prowess and Garfunkel’s angelic vocals yielded iconic hits like “The Sound of Silence,” “Mrs. Robinson,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” The duo’s success mirrored the social and cultural shifts of the era, making them emblematic figures of the folk music movement.

Surviving a severe case of COVID-19 and now grappling with hearing loss, Simon reflects on the toll the past few years have taken on him, saying, “Boy, have I been beaten up in these last couple of years.” Despite the challenges, he maintains his characteristic sense of humor, adding, “But I look good, right?”

paul simon illness

Prior to the hearing loss, Paul Simon had mentioned chronic back problems that contributed to his decision to stop touring. These issues, likely age-related, make extensive travel and physically demanding performances challenging.

Simon, known for classics like “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” and “You Can Call Me Al,” expressed a sense of relief at stepping away from the stage. Reflecting on his live performances, he shared, “The songs of mine that I don’t want to sing live, I don’t sing them.” The hearing loss has given him a newfound freedom from the pressure to perform certain songs, allowing him to choose the ones he genuinely enjoys.

A Farewell Tour and Unexpected Return

Paul Simon officially retired from the road following his 2018 “Homeward Bound” farewell tour. However, he made an unexpected return at San Francisco’s Outside Lands festival in 2019, donating the net proceeds to local environmental nonprofits. The performance turned out to be one of his last live shows, marking a poignant chapter in his illustrious career.

paul simon illness

“Seven Psalms” and Contemplating Mortality

“Seven Psalms,” Simon’s latest album, is a 33-minute composition inspired by the Psalms of King David. Featuring contributions from vocal ensemble Voces8, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, and his wife, Edie Brickell, the album marks Simon’s return to the musical scene after seven years.

paul simon illness

The song “Wait” forced him to confront his mortality, a poignant moment as he reflects on the passing of contemporaries like Gordon Lightfoot and Jeff Beck, acknowledging that his generation’s time is inevitably drawing to a close.

In the face of unexpected challenges, Paul Simon continues to navigate the intricacies of life, finding solace in his music and leaving an indelible mark on the world of music, even as he grapples with the uncertainties that lie ahead.

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