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Paul Simon 'blows away' Israeli fans

Paul Simon in concert (photo: wikimedia commons)

Last night was a magical night. The missus and I got to see a living legend, Paul Simon. It was our anniversary present to ourselves this year. The ticket prices were extremely high (I guess they put 100% import tax on that, too) but seeing as how our “culture budget” has practically disappeared since the kids joined the family, we decided to splurge.

Of course, like most Israelis, we spent the first half hour as we waited for Paul to show up, complaining about how we got screwed. The seats weren’t great, too many people walking in front of us and so on. But when Paul walked on, picked up his guitar and without a word his band started blasting out “The Boy in the Bubble”, all that was shoved aside. This isn’t some kind of Lady Gaga show where it’s all about the stage. This show was about the music, and the sound last night was fabulous.

The concert turned out to be like one of those gourmet meals you pay for through the roof. You know you’re paying way too much – but you can’t help but feel the ecstasy. Paul Simon, at the age of 70, was as gourmet as it gets last night.

It was a perfect combination of new and old songs. I usually get a bit frustrated at concerts when I hear a song I don’t know, or when an artist insists on doing his “new stuff”. When Paul did it last night, I felt like I wanted to go out and buy his new record. It sounded great, it sounded interesting.

Like many, I also grew up on Simon and Garfunkel. I was only eight years old when they did Central Park, but that concert album was played over and over in my home. It almost felt like I knew each drum beat, each guitar strum, and each applause from the crowd. I was always jealous of those hundreds of thousands attending a night of perfection in the best city in earth.

But last night brought an end to those jealous pangs. When he did Mother and Child reunion I felt like I was actually there, in Central Park. And the Israeli crowd even helped me out more when they howled in sync and in perfect timing in “The Sounds of Silence” as Paul sang the words “And in the naked night I saw 10,000 people, even more”, just like the Central Park show.

And there was something about it, I can’t put my finger on it, but something more convincing about  him without Garfunkel next to him. As if him having the spotlight to himself does good. I found myself listening closer to the words, closer than I ever did. At the age of 70, his voice was clear, and when he sang “Slip Sliding Away”, I got a lump in my throat.

God only knows
God makes his plan
The information’s unavailable
To the mortal man
We work our jobs
Collect our pay
Believe we’re gliding down the highway
When in fact we’re slip slidin’ away
How true.

And of course, being a +972’er, I couldn’t help but add in the politics. I hate that. I wish I could just enjoy something for what it is. But when he began the beautiful guitar acoustics of “Hearts and Bones”, one of the most beautiful love songs ever written, I took it to that place of equality, of “if only we all understood that we’re all hearts and bones” place.

I was worried, for a second, that he wouldn’t do my favorite “Late in the Evening”, but towards the end of the show he calmed me down, with a thumping version that “blew the room away!”

There was “50 ways”, there was “Kodachrome”, but it were the Graceland songs that were the epitome, for me, of Paul Simon’s genius. They reminded me of the perfection and richness of that album and of how I want to listen to it again. Right now. As we speak.

The band was amazing, the encores were outstanding, with the crowd singing their hearts out with “You can call me Al” and “Still crazy after all these years.

And before he ended over two hours of nonstop singing with ‘The Boxer”, he didn’t forget the most important thing:

“I’m not much of a praying man, but tonight I’d like to say a prayer. A prayer for peace. Shalom Aleichem, Malachei Hashalom. Peace for Israel and for its neighbors.Salam Aleykum”.

I truly love that guy. Really, I do.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Reinhard

      Thanks Ami – this review completes my evening with Paul Simon. I can only echo your summing up of the person and the show.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Shelly

      Thanks Ami, for telling it like it was, a truly joyous evening. It’s refreshing to read uplifting commentary on +972. Yes! Even in the turbulent Middle East there are simply wonderful events we can truly enjoy!
      In contrast, Gideon Levy’s (Ha’Aretz) take on this very special evening left me depressed. He refuses to stray from his agenda, thanking Paul Simon for the memories “on troubled waters.”
      Give me a break!

      Which Paul Simon, and your enthusiastic review, did!

      Reply to Comment
    3. Sirene Mekky

      Hey Ami, I had the honor of quoting you on my FB today. Salam, Sharlom!

      Reply to Comment
    4. Beth Stickney

      Thanks, Ami! I really didn’t want to hate Paul Simon for playing in Israel and you have given me some moral leeway here, even though I do support BDS. His new CD is smart and beautiful, as usual. I have to believe he’s a good man!

      Reply to Comment
    5. Rie

      From the headline, I thought maybe you would report that Paul Simon used the opportunity when in Israel to speak out against Israel’s continued military occupation of Palestinian territories and growing Israeli racism within the Green line. Alas, he can only go so far as to wish for peace for Israel and her unnamed neighbors. Disappointing to say the least.

      Reply to Comment
      • David Lyons

        Well said. Paul Simon is clearly a musician of great talent but has chosen to use his God-given gift for his own self-interest rather than bear witness to truth; hence the hypocritical difference between his anti-government offerings in apartheid South Africa and the implicit pro-government compliance in Israel. O Mora, O Tempores.

        Reply to Comment
    6. With all due respect:

      Yes, even a fascist apartheid state deserves a little mindless entertainment now and then. I wonder if the writers and commenters at +972 would have felt the same if Simon had spit in the face of the boycott movement in South Africa during the struggle for equality and justice there. I wonder if you can even post my comment without being sued, since I use the dreaded “B” word. Maybe if you print the lyrics to “The Sounds of Silence” along with it, everything will be okay. Simon’s silence on Palestinian rights that night certainly was nothing he’ll be sued for. It’s also nothing anyone at +972 should be proud of endorsing.

      Great work is being done at this site. I thank everyone for their courage and determination. But until we can turn away from soft-Zionist perspectives, change is never going to come to Israel. Being “blown away” by a millionaire super star prattling on about love while Palestinian children are being arrested and tortured just thirty miles away is a shameful display of ethnic narcissism.

      Reply to Comment
    7. @Thanks everyone.
      .
      @Rie and Joe – sorry I had a good time. Joe, my channel reflects my own views alone, and does not represent the views of other bloggers on the site.
      .
      As for us being sued for your comment, I’ll have to look into that. 🙂
      .
      As for the distance I am from the crimes that my country perpetrates, I can think of a few that are being done by your country, by its corporations and by its leaders – from very close to you to almost every corner of the earth. So, no need to preach to me on that. But I guess it takes one criminal to know another, huh? 😉

      Reply to Comment
    8. Baroness Jenny Tonge

      He should be boycotted. He should be boycotted forever everywhere.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Ido

      I’m sure some still boycott him since the 80’s when he went to South Africa. I don’t mind, I think he managed to so what he wants on his own terms, and that’s what should matter to him.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Deïr Yassin

      @ Joe Mowrey
      “If Simon had spit in the face of the boycott movement in South Africa during the struggle for equality and justice there”

      Well, in fact he did spit in the face of the SA boycott too. He made an album – ‘Graceland’ – in South Africa with South African musicians during the cultural boycott instigated by the ANC.
      When I think that he made the music to my favorite film as a teenager: “The Graduate”, but at least Dustin Hoffman has endorsed the NoNo-word-campaign.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Sylvia

      One curious consequence of cultural Boycott that I have noticed is that Israel is becoming the destination for a cultural elite, true, top of the line, consecrated artists, while the fray goes elsewhere. Strange.

      Reply to Comment
    12. RichardNYC

      @Joe Mowrey and the Baroness
      Anyone notice that Bashir is bombing civilians in South Kurdufan, or that Somali Islamists are letting thousands starve? Didn’t think so. I guess its more important that we organize a boycott of Jews who refuse to betray their people for the approval of rabid, Jew-obsessed “human rights” champions.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Disgusting. Paul Simon has betrayed the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions by playing this concert. He crossed the picket lines, and that’s inexcusable. I’m glad you had a good time Ami, but at some point, enough’s ENOUGH. No musician who cares about human rights should play a single show in Israel until equality, justice, and human rights replaces land theft as Israel’s national policy.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Oh also – I find Simon’s call for “peace” to be at best ignorant and at worst racist. Peace is meaningless without equality, justice, and freedom. Israelis talk about peace because they are the oppressors. The Israeli right wing talks about peace too, they want the peace of graveyards and total domination. Palestinians talk about equality, freedom and justice – not peace. I feel like vomiting reading this report.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Danny

      I was at the concert last night and when I saw this link on FB I thought I’d read it. Good review, but the talkbacks are….well….for God sakes! How can people be so completely obsessed with hatred for Israel that they would write the obscene crap that is being written here? Have you people completely lost your minds?

      Reply to Comment
    16. Thanks Paul for keeping your freedom of speech, and not bowing to attempts to censor you, in presence or in content.

      Reply to Comment
    17. tillkan

      The ones that have lost their minds are the ones that think Israel can just go on punishing the Palestinians forever. What a horrible basis for a country.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Sam Smith

      Yes, Danny, people lost their mind a long time ago. When they ignore the millions starving in Somalia, the thousands butchered in Syria, and the hundreds publicly hung in Iran every year – something is wrong. When, instead, they send ships full of useful idiots to aid a regime that uses the Protocols of Zion as its guiding light – something is wrong. When the only country they target their criticism at happens to be the Jewish state – something is wrong.

      Reply to Comment
    19. RichardNYC

      @Matthew Taylor
      “I feel like vomiting reading this report.” Really? At least its nice that rabid leftist fashion victims don’t make a sincere effort to conceal their hysterical obsession with hatred of Jewish self-determination.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Sylvia

      People have paid thousands to see Paul Simon.
      Meanwhile the Israeli Cameri theater who not very long ago has gotten into boycotting is reduced to offering “sales” through junk-mail.
      Two tichets for 120 NIS (around 30 dollars)! less than half the regular price and people still won’t go, regardless on their position on the settlements.

      Reply to Comment
    21. sh

      So many Paul Simon recordings you can listen to for 40 years and still find something new each time. How many artists can you say that about? He was booked, he came, neither pro nor anti Israel, to do what he does best. He was asked about it in an interview prior to the performance and said he knew nothing about politics, was a Jew by heritage rather than faith and was pro peace. What he does best took him to South Africa too. Anyone with an ear who went in the 1980s can testify to the unbelievably vital music because you just had to turn the radio dial to be “blown away”. What he did in Africa gave a boost to artists we’d never have heard and reminded us of other influences we were forgetting.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHny1UyjXQU

      In my book reason to be grateful, not critical (with protest music like that they couldn’t fail to win in the end) of this great musician and wordsmith.
      .
      I didn’t go to the show in Ramat Gan so thanks, Ami, for your account and the clips.
      .
      – And support the Cameri, people!

      Reply to Comment
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