All of Paul Simon's solo albums ranked

Every Paul Simon solo record reviewed.

Keystone/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
15 of 16
Next

No. 2 - STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS (1975)

Still Crazy After All These Years completed the three-album run that began with the self-titled record, which propelled Simon to the very top of the recording industry. It hit number 1 on the US albums chart and yielded his first (and to date, only) number 1 single. It also won two Grammys, Simon’s first as a solo artist.

Simon had plenty of help. Most famously, this was the album in which he sang with Art Garfunkel again, on the lovely piano ballad “My Little Town,” As with much of Simon’s best work, the song is a deception. The pretty harmonies suggest fond memories, but the lyrics reveal a much darker history. “After it rains, there’s a rainbow – And all of the colors are black,” scratches the surface. “Nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town” brings it home with a gospel fury.

There’s more gospel and more stellar backup singing from Phoebe Snow on “Gone at Last.” Snow also sings on the album’s biggest hit, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” And perhaps Simon’s single greatest collaborator introduces himself on that track as well.

For a musician as obsessed with drums and rhythm, Steven Gadd’s contributions to Simon’s career cannot be overstated. Gadd is arguably the greatest session drummer in American pop music. The list of prominent artists he has played with would fill a couple of volumes. He first played on a Simon album with Still Crazy… and he would play on the majority of Simon’s albums for the rest of his career. It was Gadd who was fooling around in the rehearsal room when he came up with the iconic groove that kicked off “50 Ways…”, a beat that once heard is never forgotten.

Still Crazy… is filled with outstanding songs. The throbbing bass of “You’re Kind” elevates the simple love song. “Night Game” is a little song that builds on a Cat Stevens vibe into a haunting exploration of death. “Have a Good Time” is a great little slice of blues. The title track, which kicks off the album, is one of the most beautiful songs Simon ever wrote, perfectly orchestrated with Barry Beckett’s Rhodes piano and Michael Brecker’s gorgeous sax solo.

Still Crazy… got Simon his Album of the Year Grammy. He was shaggy-haired and bearded when he took the stage with co-producer Phil Ramone. After thanking Ramone and Phoebe Snow and Art Garfunkel, he concluded “and most of all, I’d like to thank Stevie Wonder, who didn’t make an album this year.” It was one of the great moments in Grammy acceptance speech history.