'The listener completes the song,' Paul Simon loves it when fans get his lyrics wrong
Music legend Paul Simon loves it when people get his lyrics wrong.
The ‘Graceland’ singer believes “the listener completes the song” and he doesn’t care if people mishear his words or create their own interpretations of what he meant when he was writing the tracks so long as they are getting “pleasure” from listening.
He told Big Issue magazine: “I should say something that I’m sure is deeply true, which is that the listener completes the song.
“And so, what I say in a song, I may have a thought of what it means, but the listener decides what it means to them.
“I know there are people who have a very strong attachment to some of my songs. And what they think it means is not what I meant.
“And I think, ‘Your idea is actually more interesting than mine. I like your idea at least as much as mine, and maybe more.
“It’s so funny when you hear people say, ‘I love your song, or that song,’ and then they sing a little bit of it and they get the lyrics wrong. And you realise, ‘Well, that’s the way they heard the lyric.’
“Their mind preferred that choice of words. And I think that’s great, because I wrote it to suit myself.
“And once it’s out of my hands and out into the air for anyone else to choose, they can construct it any way they want that gives them pleasure. And I’m fine with that.”
The 81-year-old musician also revealed he believes one of his guitars has “magical qualities”, while he can no longer bear to be parted from his favourite instrument, despite spending years refusing to use it on stage because he was worried it would get damaged.
Discussing what he uses on new album ‘Seven Psalms’, he said: “The main instrument is the acoustic guitar. I’ve had that guitar for 50 years other than the Simon and Garfunkel records where I used a Guild.
“There’s something quite extraordinary about this guitar.
“I never used to travel with it, because I valued it so greatly, I’ve never played it on stage. Now I travel with it all the time, because I can’t bear to be without it…
“I also use several other guitars. One is an electric guitar in high-strung tuning and it has a particular sound.
“It was made for me, and it has – I’m tempted to say, so I will say – magical qualities.”