DVD Review: “Paul Simon and Friends: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song”
With the exception of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which has been covered by hundreds of performers, most of Paul Simon’s songs are mainly associated with his own performances — his distinctive voice and artistic sensibility are hard to separate from “The Boxer,” “Slip Slidin’ Away” and “Graceland.” But this Library of Congress Gershwin Prize awards concert from 2007 offers new proof that in the proper hands, his work is endlessly adaptable.
Following an introduction by Bob Costas, “Paul Simon and Friends” begins appropriately with Lyle Lovett’s version of “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” — Lovett, whose verbose lyrical style often mirrors Simon’s, is a sympathetic choice. But then subsequent singers prove how malleable Simon’s songs can be: Stephen Marley’s take on “Mother and Child Reunion” proves that Simon’s reggae had a ring of authenticity, and Yolanda Adams and Jessy Dixon turn “Gone at Last” into a legitimate gospel rave-up.
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