Paul Simon reveals hearing loss, reflects on mortality: ‘My generation’s time is up’
Paul Simon is opening up about his hearing loss, revealing most of the hearing in his left ear is gone.
In an interview with The Times, the 81-year-old shared that while making his latest album, "Seven Psalms," he noticed his hearing was deteriorating.
"Quite suddenly I lost most of the hearing in my left ear, and nobody has an explanation for it. So everything became more difficult," Simon said.
"My reaction to that was frustration and annoyance; not quite anger yet, because I thought it would pass, it would repair itself."
Unfortunately, Simon’s hearing has not repaired itself. The singer also noted that he is recovering from a bout of COVID, saying in the interview, "Boy, have I been beaten up in these last couple of years."
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The hearing loss may impact Simon’s ability to perform live, although the musician admitted it might not be such a bad thing, as it allows him to stop performing songs he’s no longer interested in.
"The songs of mine that I don’t want to sing live, I don’t sing them," he said. "Sometimes there are songs that I like and then at a certain point in a tour, I’ll say, ‘What the f--- are you doing, Paul?’ Quite often that would come during You Can Call Me Al. I’d think, ‘What are you doing? You’re like a Paul Simon cover band. You should get off the road, go home.’"
In 2018, Simon announced he was retiring from touring. In a social media post, he wrote, "I feel the travel and time away from my wife and family takes a toll that detracts from the joy of playing," adding, it "feels a little unsettling, a touch exhilarating, and something of a relief."
In the meantime, Simon has concentrated on "Seven Psalms," which he said came to him in a dream in 2019.
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"The dream was specific," he told The Times. "‘You are writing, or are meant to write, a piece called Seven Psalms.’ It was a very insistent statement, so much so that I wrote it down. And the next day I looked at the Bible and thought, ‘Well, the piece isn’t going to be like this.’ And then it was a case of, ‘Well, what is it going to be like? I have no idea, but then it wasn’t my idea anyway. I’ll just wait here until I have more information.’"
The album is ultimately reflective about mortality and death, particularly with a song titled, "Wait."
The first verse contains the lyrics, "I’m not ready, I’m just packing my gear/ Wait/ My hand’s steady/ My mind is still clear."
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His wife of over 30 years, Edie Brickell, duets with him in the final section, which reads, "Heaven is beautiful/ It’s almost like home/ Children, get ready/ It’s time to come home."
In the interview, Simon teared up as he discussed the haunting lyrics.
"It’s a spooky thing to be writing something and just be thinking, ‘Oh, this is what the song needs,’" he said. "And then it’s, ‘By the way, this is about you. You’re actually the subject of this.’"
Simon continued, "It’s just the age we’re at. Gordon Lightfoot just passed away; Jeff Beck too. My generation’s time is up."
"Seven Psalms" is available now on all major music streaming services and for purchase.