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So Beautiful or So What

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Vinyl, May 10, 2011
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During his distinguished career Paul Simon has been the recipient of many honors and awards including 12 Grammy Awards, three of which ("Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "Graceland") were albums of the year. In 2003 he was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as half of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. He is ... Read more in Amazon's Paul Simon Store

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So Beautiful or So What + Rhythm of the Saints + Graceland
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Product Details

  • Vinyl (May 10, 2011)
  • Original Release Date: 2011
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: HEAR MUSIC
  • ASIN: B004NWPY8E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,777 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Getting Ready for Christmas Day
2. The Afterlife
3. Dazzling Blue
4. Rewrite
5. Love and Hard Times
6. Love Is Eternal Sacred Light
7. Amulet
8. Questions for the Angels
9. Love & Blessings
10. So Beautiful Or So What

Editorial Reviews

Vinyl LP pressing. 2011 album from the Grammy-winning, multi-million selling veteran singer/songwriter. Produced by Phil Ramone and Paul Simon, with liner notes written by Elvis Costello, So Beautiful or So What is one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year. Rolling Stone magazine recently declared it, "His best since Graceland," and National Public Radio affirmed, "...his new music balances great poetry and pop. Paul Simon is a national treasure." In their current issue, Filter Magazine calls the new album, "...a new masterpiece from the Picasso of music."

Customer Reviews

I've been a Paul Simon fan for years and have many of his albums.
Paul Simon takes listeners on a beautiful spiritual journey . . . with incredible music, unlike anything else being routinely created.
Greg S. Sykes
The music - understated guitars and percussion - is excellent and suits the melodies well.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 147 people found the following review helpful By Polar Bear on April 12, 2011
Format: Audio CD
So Beautiful So What is Paul Simon's 12th solo album and his first release in 5 years. And it was well worth the wait! This is, in my opinion, his best album since Graceland. As you would expect with any of his work, his melodies are amazing, his lyrics poetic, and the feel and sound stand out in its uniqueness. "Rewrite" creates some incredible textures through the use of a West African stringed kora, a djembe drum, and even the faint grunt of wildebeests on certain guitar notes. "Dazzling Blue" has a folksy feel with some amazing fingerpicking on the acoustic guitar. "Getting Ready for Christmas Day" uses parts of a 1941 sermon by Reverend J.M. Gates and adds richness to the story. "The Afterlife" shows Simon's lyrical genius as it explores the process of entering heaven: filling out forms and waiting in line. There really isn't any filler as each song is a joy that takes the listener on a musical journey. This is an amazing album and if you're a fan of Paul Simon you'll love it!
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By JOHNEC on April 14, 2011
Format: MP3 Music
I have listend to this recording several times since I received it yesterday. (a good sign) I have found Mr Simon's work consistently interesting since Graceland. I think it is the production even more than the strong songs. At this point in his long life he is looking at some very serious issues--he is a serious man. What amazes me is how consistently he continues to sound new. I think for an artist that may be the best compliment I could bestow. At his age he is doing what most "artists" cannot--create a sound that is his--not the hot producer of the day's sound but his sound. (Maybe only a few have the skills as a musician and producer to do this.) Anyway.. it is unusual and valued by this listener. Please give this a listen--it is a sound that you will not hear anywhere else. How cool is that?
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279 of 330 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Kornbluth TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 12, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Some years ago, I was invited to be on the membership committee of PEN, the distinguished international literary organization. That was not someone's best idea --- because there's almost no reason to reject any working writer, meetings tended to be boring --- so I thought of a way to liven them up.

The problem with PEN, I said, is that it has a very narrow, 19th century sense of what constitutes a "writer." But, I continued, that definition exploded in 1962 or 1963, when Bob Dylan started hitting his stride. Now we've had four or five decades of songs that wouldn't be out of place in poetry magazines --- we ought to let a few of these kids into PEN. Dylan first, of course, then the usual suspects: Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Carole King, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, John Prine. And Paul Simon.

Talk about a non-start. I'm not sure the higher-ups at PEN ever really heard the idea of welcoming singer-songwriters. Or maybe they did --- not much later, the membership committee was disbanded.

And now it's a decade later, and I'm listening to "So Beautiful or So What," Paul Simon's 12th solo release and his first in 5 years. Music is not a competitive sport --- unless you happen to be a musician --- but I'd put this up there with recent Dylan and a few lengths ahead of the recent Springsteen releases.

This will not be a majority view. If you love Dylan --- and I do, just not blindly --- he will always stand alone, like Shakespeare. And no one works harder in live performance than Springsteen; he's a monument to the dignity and decency of blue-collar America. Simon? In the poet laureate of rock race, he'll always be third, simply because he never seems to break a sweat.
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47 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Rudy Palma on April 12, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Paul Simon is one of the rare musicians who have maintained a restless, creative spirit and pursuit of perfection into the latter days of his career. He underscores this often - and seemingly effortlessly - on "So Beautiful or So What."

Raw, bouncy, funky instrumentation abounds, with digital effects, loops and world music beats. This results in songs that have catchiness and verve before considering their lyrical content. Those who feel Simon should move away from the international sound that has informed the bulk of his work since "Graceland" will not be pleased, but even if he is not stretching his sonic palette he is nonetheless weaving extremely strong tunes from it. What anchors them, unsurprisingly, are his thoughtful, shrewdly observant poetry.

"Getting Ready for Christmas Day" starts the album in an unorthodox note with its crunchy textures and offbeat, unaffected vocals. It sounds as though someone hit the record button in the middle of a jam session.

The sitar-infected "Rewrite" is instantly endearing with its pulsing, swaying production and Simon's moving, unsentimental lyric that wax on the aid of a selective memory in an effort to comfortably move forward in life. This perspective is also glimpses on "The Afterlife," which parades along with just as much pep and strut. "You've got to fill out a form first and then you wait in the line" says Simon of the long journey to "glimpse the divine."

Not all is rosy and optimistic. On "Questions for the Angels" - which works effectively as a flip-side for "The Afterlife" - Simon confronts the emptiness and depravity which cause many to question the purpose of life.
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