Paul Simon Nik Cohn - Essay

Nik Cohn

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Still Crazy After All These Years [is] a most ironic title. For Simon is not crazy in the slightest, never has been, and on the current album, he sounds more restrained than ever.

By and large, the themes tend toward gloom, filled with images of passing time, missed connections, waste. But the despair is always contained; never loses its wryness. Instead, it rolls out like a newly scrubbed carpet, unrumpled, spotless, and from first to last, Simon does not raise his voice, avoids the slightest hint of any intemperance.

For myself, I must say, the results chill me to the bone. From Sounds of Silence onwards, Simon's music has always had the same effect on me, like an instant freeze of Novocain. There is no doubting his facility, or his musicianship. But on Still Crazy, he sounds so academic, so bloodless and inert, that one good blast of wind would blow him clear out of the studio, scatter his dry bones like confetti.

Long before the end, one yearns for bum notes, false rhymes, some sign of fallibility. Anything would do, however fleeting. If only, just for one moment, it robbed him of his eternal moderation. (pp. 103-04)

Nik Cohn, "The Artless Dodger" (copyright © 1975 by Nik Cohn; reprinted by permission of the author), in New York Magazine, Vol. 8, No. 48, December 1, 1975, pp. 103-04.