NEW YORK — After decades of telling his story through music, Paul Simon is ready to rely on words alone.
The celebrated singer-songwriter has agreed to cooperate with author and music critic Robert Hilburn for a planned biography.
Simon & Schuster, winner of a recent six-publisher auction, announced the acquisition and told The Associated Press that the book was still untitled and did not yet have a release date. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Hilburn’s previous books include the memoir Corn Flakes With John Lennon and Other Tales from a Rock ‘n’ Roll Life and a biography of Johnny Cash. Publishers have long been anxious for a book from Simon, among the world’s most popular, introspective and articulate musicians.
“I thought seriously about writing my own memoir, but I’d rather devote my time to making music, which continues to hold my full attention,” Simon explained in a statement issued through his publisher.
“I’m confident Robert Hilburn will write an insightful book. I enjoyed and admired his biography of Johnny Cash and I think he’ll tell my story well.”
Hilburn has known Simon since the 1970s and said in a statement that the biography would “be a gripping, inspiring portrait of an artist, including the toughness and heart it requires to avoid giving in to the many factor — from rejection to self-doubt to writer’s block and complacency — that have derailed so many pop artists.”
The 73-year-old Simon has been famous for nearly half a century, since he and Art Garfunkel broke through with the folk-rock hit The Sound of Silence.
Simon’s many classics, some with Garfunkel and some as a solo artist, include Mrs. Robinson, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. His albums include Graceland, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon and Still Crazy After All These Years.
Simon’s many friends range from Sting and James Taylor to Steve Martin. He has been married three times — to Peggy Harper, to actress Carrie Fisher and, since 1992, to singer Edie Brickell.
Hilburn said that Simon was compiling a list of people he has been close to and sending the biographer contact information.
“There is no sense that anyone is off limits,” Hilburn wrote in an email. “I made it clear that I plan to speak to everyone who has played a part in his life, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to make sure he read the Johnny Cash book — to see there are moments of darkness in it. Paul has had no problem with that.”
(HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer)