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‘Paul Simon: Words & Music’, A New Exhibition At The Skirball Center Next Year


Paul Simon’ Concert in the Park, 1991.


Paul Simon is a legend, there’s no doubt about it, and the Skirball Cultural Center has decided to honor the 60-year career of this legend. From April 27 to September 10 2017, the Jewish cultural institution will host ‘PAUL SIMON: WORDS & MUSIC’, a traveling exhibition curated by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Rock & Roll exhibits currently seem to be the fashionable thing to do among other cultural events – there was a Beatles exhibit at the Grammy Museum a few months ago, there is currently a Ramones exhibit over there, and Iman just visited a Rolling Stones exhibit in New York… So why not a Paul Simon exhibit? According to the press release, the show, based on exclusive interviews with the artist, ‘will walk visitors through Simon’s life and music and illuminate his creative process’, while illustrating ‘how his music has reflected social and cultural ideals’. I bet there will be a whole section dedicated to Graceland and the controversy around the making of the album?

As it is the case for exhibits of this kind, you will be able to see instruments, records, sheet music, handwritten lyrics, photography, costumes, and stage maquettes, and there will be listening stations and performance footage spanning Simon’s six-decade career.

60 years, how is this even possible? Simon started composing music when he was in his teens, and became famous for his work with Arthur Garfunkel in the late 60’s, before pursuing a solo career, collaborating with musicians from all over the world. The exhibit will be organized chronologically, with themed sections covering each part of his career, from the early years, to the well-known Simon & Garfunkel period, and his acclaimed solo work since 1971.

Simon’s fans have a special connection with his music, rhythms and words, and looking at people attending several of his shows, this concerns several generations of fans, this is why the exhibit could attract entire families.

As the quintessential New York singer-songwriter, Simon has successfully managed to switch ‘between styles effortlessly with as much attention to rhythm as melody, a rare quality among artists who came of age in the folk era’. And Simon is fully aware of the universal power of music: ‘It’s absolutely true that music brings people together in a way that they can’t find in any other form. It’s nonverbal, and it goes to something that’s deeply ingrained in our DNA. It’s a really powerful force,’ he declared.

This Skirball exhibit is the only West Coast stop of the show, and there will be a few exclusivities for this Los Angeles presentation, such as additional artifacts from Simon’s private archive and a newly created music lab developed by the Skirball in cooperation with Roland Corporation, where visitors will be able to experience Simon’s recordings, ‘experiment with them by playing acoustic guitar, manipulating rhythms on a mixing console, and harmonizing with Simon on one of his most popular tunes.’

The exhibition opens at the Skirball on April 27 and will run through September 10. This is very probably a must see for any Paul Simon fan.

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