"I haven’t figured out how to perform with the hearing loss..."
Paul Simon is pondering his retirement from touring. While the Graceland singer hasn’t toured since September 2018, earlier this year, he revealed that he finds performing “difficult” after losing “most of the hearing” in his left ear.
Now comes the journey to recovery and acceptance. Opening up to Mojo in a new interview, Simon discussed how working on new music has helped him deal with the hearing loss.
“I have three songs in motion. One of them is finished. It feels like a half-step beyond what Seven Psalms is, evolving into something else,” Simon said, referencing his new album, Seven Psalms, released in May this year. The release was his first new album in seven years.
Simon added, “And that’s literally a lifesaver because I haven’t figured out how to perform with the hearing loss. I’ve tried to rehearse with the guys in my touring band to see if I could manage it. I can’t so far. This is at least an outlet for thinking musically.”
A week after releasing Seven Psalms, Simon told the UK newspaper The Times that he’d lost “most of the hearing” in his left ear.
In the interview, Simon revealed that the developing condition began while he was recording Seven Psalms. “Quite suddenly, I lost most of the hearing in my left ear, and nobody has an explanation for it,” he said. “So everything became more difficult.”
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At first, Simon admitted feeling “frustration and annoyance” but hoped his ear would “repair itself.” Rather than sink into despair, the singer reframed how he thought about things and found a way to make life easier.
Since stepping away from touring in late 2018, Simon has only put on the occasional live performance, leading to him admitting he would get sick of some songs while on the road.
He explained, “The songs of mine that I don’t want to sing live, I don’t sing them. Sometimes there are songs that I like, and then at a certain point in a tour, I’ll say, ‘What the fuck are you doing, Paul?’”
“Quite often, that would come during You Can Call Me Al. I’d think, ‘What are you doing? You’re like a Paul Simon cover band. You should get off the road, go home.’”