Give Paul Simon a Break Already

I was born too late for the heyday of Simon and Garfunkel, but I’ve been a big Paul Simon fan ever since the release of There Goes Rhymin’ Simon in 1973. The Brooklyn Academy of Music recently put together a three-month festival celebrating his songs, Love in Hard Times, but alas, I wasn’t in town for it.

I’ve been catching up on the media coverage of the show, including a piece in New York magazine complaining that Simon exhibited the “enthusiasm of a postal clerk on tax day” during his performance. Sounds like Virgo, I thought. So I did a little legwork and found his birth chart, which has a 6 degree Virgo rising.

Here’s the link to Paul Simon’s natal chart.

Be careful with this site. You may need to have Java running. Anyway, be prepared for a slight delay to look at Simon’s chart, set for Oct. 13, 1941 at 2:33 a.m. in Newark Heights, N.J.

One thing that I’ve never understood is why Simon has been criticized for bringing music from other cultures and countries to the attention of the masses. He hasn’t stolen or plagiarized, but he’s been unfairly accused of exploitation, in my opinion, particularly for his South African tribal-infused works on Graceland.

This kind of Simon-bashing is particularly annoying to me in the age of rap and hip-hop, where the sampling of earlier works is accepted and even encouraged. As a suburban teenager I wouldn’t have learned about the Dixie Hummingbirds if it weren’t for their vocals on Simon’s Loves Me Like a Rock on Rhymin’ Simon. This is his Venus in Sag at work, evincing a love of other cultures and sharing it with others.

Why am I such a Simon defender? Maybe it’s because his Neptune at 28 degrees of Virgo is right on my North Node, which symbolizes a collective and healing experience. His songs have always resonated with me, from America to Homeward Bound to Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.

I’ve always felt that Simon (and Art Garfunkel) captured the ennui and disillusionment in a land of plenty. In my view, the seminal moment was Mrs. Robinson as the theme song to The Graduate, which debuted in New York on Dec. 21, 1967, according to the Internet Movie Database. At that time, electrical Uranus was at 29 Virgo, conjunct Simon’s Neptune, and transforming Pluto was slightly behind, at 22 Virgo. Expansive Jupiter was at 5 degrees of Virgo, smack on Simon’s ascendant.

Over the years, Simon has continued to work his alchemy on the American psyche. At the same time, he was woven classical riffs, African tribal melodies, and a Caribbean beat, to name just three influences, into the tapestry of his music. Like fellow Libran Bruce Springsteen, Simon has served as the poet of his generation. In Simon’s case, the collective consciousness crystallized with the Uranus/Pluto conjunctions of the late Sixties.

Here’s one of my favorite tunes of this troubled troubadour, recorded during a 1974 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show : Paul Simon’s American Tune

(This is my first music link, coming just a few days after my first photo link. Can you tell that stationing Neptune is trining my natal Jupiter in Sag, which is being opposed by a slow-moving retrograde Mercury?)

What sums up the American experience right now better than these words?

We’ve lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
we’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what went wrong

If you know the answer, please let me know. I’m still trying to figure it out.