Paul Simon Says Goodbye in Farewell Hometown Gig
Paul Simon concluded his Homeward Bound: The Farewell Tour last night (Sept. 22) by, fittingly, going home. The show took place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in Flushing, Queens, N.Y., just across the Grand Central Parkway from the neighborhood of Forest Hills, where he grew up.
"It seems more like fate than coincidence that I should do the final show on this final tour at Flushing Meadows Corona Park," Simon said when this date was announced. "I could have ridden my bike from home to the park in about 20 minutes, when I was a kid. ... But this is less a goodbye than a farewell. Thank you all for the ride, I had a great time."
The set opened with the cinematic "America," and concluded with the song that kicked off his career, "The Sound of Silence," his 1965 No. 1 hit as one-half of Simon & Garfunkel. Simon was in good spirits despite the heavy emotions of the evening, dedicating his anti-establishment track “Kodachrome” to his nearby school and saying, “Yeah, take that Forest Hills High School” – although he added, “Actually, I had a good time there.” When some fireworks exploded in the distance as he explained the background to “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War,” he said, “Could you hold up the fireworks? I’m trying to tell a story about Rene Magritte.”
He took the opportunity to play “a quick game of catch,” offering three audience members the chance to throw a ball at him, managing to catch the final attempt. Then, at the end of his second encore, he bowed out telling the crowd their response “means more than you can know.”
He announced the tour back in February with a leg that concluded in June, and followed it up shortly thereafter by revealing 11 more shows for September. “I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to reach the point where I'd consider bringing my performing career to a natural end," he said in a statement. "Now I know: It feels a little unsettling, a touch exhilarating and something of a relief. ... Mostly, though, I feel the travel and time away from my wife and family takes a toll that detracts from the joy of playing."
Although Simon is giving up touring, he won't entirely stop performing. "I anticipate doing the occasional performance in a (hopefully) acoustically pristine hall," he continued, "and to donate those earnings to various philanthropic organizations, particularly those whose objective is to save the planet, ecologically."
Paul Simon, Sept. 22, 2018, Flushing, N.Y., Set List
2. "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover"
3. "The Boy in the Bubble"
4. "Dazzling Blue"
5. "That Was Your Mother"
7. "Mother and Child Reunion"
8. "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"
9. "Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War"
10. "Can't Run But"
11. "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
13. "Spirit Voices"
14. "The Obvious Child"
15."Questions for the Angels"
16. "The Cool, Cool River"
17. "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes"
18. "You Can Call Me Al"
19. "Late in the Evening"
20. "Still Crazy After All These Years"
22. "Homeward Bound"
24. "The Boxer"
25. "American Tune"
26. "The Sound of Silence"