Paul Simon’s Influence on Folk Rock: How his Music Shaped a Generation

Paul Simon at the Monterey Pop Festival (June 16, 1967) | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Paul Simon’s influence is so profound that it’s fair to credit him as one of the key shapers of the genre. Born on this day October 13, 1941 in Newark, New Jersey, Simon’s career spans over six decades, and his music remains relevant even today. His unique blend of folk, rock, and world music elements, combined with thoughtful and poetic lyrics, has carved out a distinctive niche in the music landscape.

Simon started his career as one half of the iconic duo Simon & Garfunkel. Their harmonious blend of voices coupled with Simon’s intricate guitar work and poetic lyrics gave birth to a new sound in the folk rock genre. Their massive hits like ‘The Sound of Silence’, ‘Mrs. Robinson’ and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ are considered classics today, showcasing Simon’s songwriting brilliance and his ability to capture the mood of a generation.

His solo career post the duo’s split further cemented his standing as a singer-songwriter par excellence. Albums like Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints not only won him critical acclaim but also commercial success. He pushed boundaries of traditional folk rock by incorporating diverse musical influences from around the world, including African beats and Brazilian rhythms.

Paul Simon’s influence on folk rock is undeniable. His innovative approach to songwriting has inspired numerous artists who followed. His music possesses an enduring appeal that transcends generations, making him a vital figure in shaping and defining the genre. Even today, Simon’s songs continue to resonate, underscoring his lasting influence on folk rock music and reaffirming his status as an iconic singer-songwriter. His legacy is a testament to how one artist’s music can shape a generation and beyond.

Curated by Jennifer