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Image for The Paul Simon Songbook
The Paul Simon Songbook
Philharmonic | Rockin' Orchestra
Set List

Mrs. Robinson
Scarborough Fair/Canticle
Homeward Bound
El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
59th Street Bridge Song
The Sound of Silence
The Boxer

– Intermission –

You Can Call Me Al
Take Me to the Mardi Gras
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
Mother and Child Reunion
Still Crazy After All These Years
Loves Me Like A Rock
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

About the Concert

An evening of music from the legendary Paul Simon explores his unique artistry as a songwriter from his years with Simon and Garfunkel through his solo albums Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints. Experience timeless hits and poetic storytelling ignited by a rock band and the sublime power of a full symphony orchestra. Songs include Bridge Over Troubled Water, Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard, The Sound of Silence, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, Graceland, and Rhythm of the Saints. All arrangements are fully orchestrated by Jeff Tyzik.

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Artistic Director & Conductor
Neal Gittleman
Neal's Notes: Me and Paul Down by the School Yard

Most of my “Neal’s Notes” focus on the Philharmonic’s classical repertoire.

But not this one!

This month I wanna talk about Paul Simon.

The obvious reason is “The Paul Simon Songbook”, the DPO’s next-to-last performance of the 2022-2023 season. It’ll be a great evening of great songs from the Simon and Garfunkel years as well as from Paul’s many years as a solo act.

The less obvious reason is that I’ve been a Paul Simon fan for most of my life.

And the least obvious reason is that there was a time—it seems to have passed now—when people would say to me, “You know, you look a lot like Paul Simon!”

I first heard of Paul Simon in 1965, when I was 10 years old. When the Sounds of Silence album came out, the music of Simon and Garfunkel was everywhere. The “Sound of Silence” (note the singular first word… “Sound…” for the single title, but “Sounds…” for the album title—a useful bit of 60s trivia) was a BIG hit on the radio. I saw Simon and Garfunkel in concert at the Dartmouth College Fieldhouse in October 1966 (my first “rock concert”) and later that same year my 7th grade English teacher played “Richard Cory” in class to introduce the Edward Arlington Robinson poem it was based on.

I was an avid S&G fan—maybe even die-hard—starting with The Sounds of Silence, backing up to take in Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. then continuing through Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme then Bookends, the soundtrack to The Graduate, and Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Then came the break-up.

I didn’t take it well.

I blamed Paul, even though I understood that Art’s pursuit of a film career was a major factor. And I was pretty sure that Art was a much better singer than an actor. In fact, I suppose his acting could be best described with a phrase that someone would coin later: all right in a sort of a limited way!

(But all respect to Art Garfunkel. I did two concerts with him—one with the Milwaukee Symphony and one here with the Dayton Phil. The man could sing! And hearing him solo taught me just how much of the magic of the Simon and Garfunkel sound was his voice.)

Because I blamed Simon for the breakup, I was deliberately cool to his solo albums, even though when songs like “Mother and Child Reunion”, “Me and Julio…”, “Kodachrome”, and “Love Me Like a Rock” came on the radio my toes would start tapping and I’d even break down and sing along sometimes.

My post-breakup animus towards Paul Simon ended early one morning in the fall of 1986 in Syracuse New York, when the clock-radio came on playing an absolutely infectious song that I’d never heard before. It made me want to jump out of bed and dance—not a common reaction, I must confess! The song ended and the DJ (“Big Mike”, the king of morning rock and roll radio in Syracuse) back-announced the song: Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al”.

And just like that, I was hooked all over again!

So I’m really excited about “The Paul Simon Songbook” concert. It looks like a fun trip down memory lane. I love the setlist. And I love the fact that it’ll take three singers to handle songs that were originally conceived for just one or two.

I’m also excited about Seven Psalms, Paul Simon’s new release. It’s really dark and the construction’s a bit frustrating (seven continuous songs on one half-hour long “track”), but the songs are good, and Simon’s observations about life are as on-target as ever.

So after more than a half-century of following Paul Simon’s career, how would I characterize my stance on him? I guess you could say I’m still crazy about him after all these years!

And I hope you are, too…

Have a great summer, and I’ll see you in September!

P.S. I’ve only done karaoke once in my life. It was some years ago and I was invited to participate in a celebrity karaoke night fundraiser at the Fraze Pavilion. What did I sing? “You Can Call Me Al”, of course. With Jim Bucher as my “Chevy Chase” (though I did all the singing). It was great fun. That night I decided that when it came to karaoke, it was time to “go out on top”!

P.P.S. I just re-watched the Paul-and-Chevy video for “You Can Call Me Al”. And I gotta admit… That Paul Simon guy looks a little bit like a younger version of me!

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