Paul Simon to mark touring retirement with new album

Paul Simon, right, and Art Garfunkel. Simon said he will stop touring after a September 22 concert at Forest Hills Stadium in the New York borough of Queens, where he grew up. (Shuttersock)
Updated 12 July 2018
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Paul Simon to mark touring retirement with new album

  • Preparing for his live finale Simon said he will on September 7 release a 14th solo studio album
  • Paul Simon: It’s an unusual occurrence for an artist to have the opportunity to revisit earlier works and rethink them

NEW YORK: Folk rock legend Paul Simon on Thursday announced an album with fresh takes on previously released songs as he prepares to retire from touring.
The former half of Simon and Garfunkel, who pioneered world music fusion in the 1980s, previously said that he will stop touring after a September 22 concert at Forest Hills Stadium in the New York borough of Queens, where he grew up.
Preparing for his live finale, Simon said he will on September 7 release a 14th solo studio album, “In the Blue Light,” in which collaborators joining him to reinterpret his songs.
“It’s an unusual occurrence for an artist to have the opportunity to revisit earlier works and rethink them; to modify, even completely change parts of the originals,” Simon, 76, writes in the liner notes, according to a statement announcing the album.
“I hope the listener will find these new versions of old songs refreshed, like a new coat of paint on the walls of an old family home.”
The album will not feature his best-known hits such as “You Can Call Me Al” or “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.”
Instead it will emphasize lesser-known tracks such as the surrealist-inspired “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War.”
Star guests will include the iconic jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis on “How the Heart Approaches What It Yearns” and “Pigs, Sheep and Wolves” as well as Bryce Dessner, the composer and guitarist of indie rockers The National who arranged a new take of “Can’t Run But,” Simon’s 1990 song about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
“Can’t Run But” appeared on “The Rhythm of the Saints,” in which Simon incorporated the sounds of Brazil. The album followed his career-reviving 1986 album “Graceland,” in which Simon found a new voice by working with South African musicians.


Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

Crique du Soleil in Riyadh. (Arab News)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

  • Crique du Soleil created a spectacular show in Riyadh for the national day
  • They paid tribute to the Saudi culture and heritage

RIYADH: The circus — a place that is almost synonymous with joy and delight. Since time immemorial, circuses have been places of celebration and glee, and few as much as the premier name in the industry: Cirque du Soleil.

The show has had a devoted fan in me since 2006, when I attended a performance of their production “Quidam” and my definition of the word “circus” was turned upside-down. Their unique approach to art, performance, costumes and music has secured their status as a household name and a benchmark for all other circus shows to be measured against.

On Sunday night, Saudi Arabia’s National Day, the circus brought their incredible acrobatics to Riyadh’s King Fahad Stadium and it turned out to be a night to remember.



Prior to the event, Cirque’s Vice President of Creation Daniel Fortin offered little in the way of spoilers but hinted that we would see something the likes of which we never had before. With the promises of exclusive new acts, music, costumes and stage tricks piquing my excitement, I joined a throng of green-and white-clad spectators flooding the stadium. Performing to a sold-out crowd, the show kicked off at exactly 8.30 p.m. and the magic truly began.

Barely five minutes into the show, something stole over me as I settled into the rhythm of the music, something I saw flickering over the faces of those in the crowd around me: Recognition. We were seeing ourselves, our identity, echoed back at us, but with a twist. We saw ourselves through someone else’s eyes — someone respectful and admiring.



As a Saudi youth today, it has become an unfortunately common occurrence to face negativity from various outsiders, born of ignorance or fear. It has become dreary and repetitive to have to continually defend my people and my culture from those who have no wish to understand us.

But at this show? I saw my country once more through the eyes of an outsider, but this time, it was different. I saw my culture and my heritage lauded, celebrated, delicately fused with that tangible Cirque du Soleil flair. The attention to detail was careful, almost loving, but also daring and outlandish. It was a glorious fusion of classic Saudi aesthetics with the ethereal, bizarre beauty of Cirque du Soleil.


The symbolism was not always obvious, sometimes it was subtle, constrained to the beat of a drum or hidden in a snatch of song. Other times, it was blatant and bold, in the sloping hump of an elegantly clumsy camel costume, or the billowing of the Bedouin Big Top in the gentle breeze. And yet, unmistakeably, I felt the Saudi influences in every note of the performance. It felt like an homage, and yet it did nothing to diminish its own identity. It remained unquestionably a Cirque du Soleil performance, only below the usual circus frippery, there was a ribbon of something else that lay coiled beneath the surface. Something bright, vibrant green. Saudi green.

The spectacle rounded off with an astonishing display of fireworks, so plentiful that for a moment, the sky glowed bright as day. To me, each one felt like a promise fulfilled. A dream achieved. A miracle witnessed. Here, on my own home soil, it was the perfect tribute to a rich and vivid culture.