Paul Simon is dealing with a ravage of time that is totally expected at his age. In the 81-year-old singer/songwriter’s case, though, it’s an occupational hazard that could seriously impact how he records and performs in the future. In a recent interview, Simon told the British paper The Times that he began to experience hearing loss in his left ear while recording his just-released song cycle, Seven Psalms.
“Quite suddenly, I lost most of the hearing in my left ear, and nobody has an explanation for it,” he said. “So everything became more difficult.” And while he described being frustrated and annoyed at first, Simon said he didn’t get angry because, “I thought it would pass… it would repair itself.”
The quintessential New Yorker — who now lives on a ranch in wife Edie Brickell’s home state of Texas — said his hearing has not yet returned, which means he may be unable to tour again. The only upside, according to the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, is that he may be spared playing songs from his catalog that he’s grown weary of.
“The songs of mine that I don’t want to sing live, I don’t sing them. 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?'” he told the paper. “Quite often that would come during [1986 hit] ‘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.'”
Simon released the 33-minute, seven-movement all-acoustic collection Seven Psalms on May 19, the follow-up to his 2018 rarities collection In the Blue Light. The album, intended to be listened to as an extended piece, is predominantly performed by Simon on unplugged instruments and also features British vocal ensemble VOCES8 as well as Brickell.