Paul Simon Hints at Retirement: 'I Am Going to See What Happens If I let Go'

Paul Simon photographed on May 31, 2016 at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.
Frank Ockenfels 3

Paul Simon photographed on May 31, 2016 at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.

Fresh from landing his first No. 1 studio album in the U.K. in 26 years, Paul Simon has dished-up another surprise: he’s on the cusp of retirement. 

“It’s an act of courage to let go,” Simon told The New York Times. “I am going to see what happens if I let go. Then I’m going to see, who am I? Or am I just this person that was defined by what I did? And if that’s gone, if you have to make yourself, who are you?”

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The Times’ article hit newsstands as Simon’s latest U.S. tour winds down. The trek reaches its final stop with the second of two concerts Thursday (June 30) at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Queens, the borough where Simon was raised and met a young Art Garfunkel, the other half of the Hall of Fame inducted vocal act Simon & Garfunkel.

Simon also confessed his dislike for fame and all its trappings. “I’ve seen fame turn into absolute poison when I was a kid in the ’60s,” he told The Times. “It killed Presley. It killed Lennon. It killed Michael Jackson. I’ve never known anyone to have gotten an enormous amount of fame who wasn’t, at a minimum, confused by it and had a very hard time making decisions.”

Simon’s latest album, Stranger To Stranger (Concord/EMI/Universal), thrust the artist back into the spotlight. The set opened at the peak of the Official U.K. Albums Chart earlier this month, his first No. 1 there with a studio set since The Rhythm Of The Saints (Warner Bros./Warner Music) spent two weeks at the top in the autumn of 1990 (Simon did hit the U.K. album summit in April 2015 with the greatest hits compilation The Ultimate Collection).

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Stranger To Stranger, Simon’s 13th solo album, gave him his first No. 1 on Billboard's Top Rock Albums and Americana/Folk Albums chart. The set opened at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, his highest-ever debut and best rank on the survey since Graceland reached the same peak in 1987.

The veteran singer will support the album with another tour of Europe, due to start at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic on Oct. 17, just four days after his 75th birthday. He'll then set out on a different type of trek. Simon has tentative plans to drift and travel for the following year, possibly with his wife Edie Brickell, if her diary allows.