Paul Simon says that he has lost much of his hearing in his left ear, impacting his ability to continue performing his music live.
The singer-songwriter, one-half of the former music duo Simon & Garfunkel, opened up about his sudden hearing loss in a recent interview with the U.K.’s The Times. The Grammy winner said it happened while he was in the early days of writing the music for his new album, 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.”
He shared that his immediate reaction to his new hearing condition was largely “frustration and annoyance.” It hadn’t reached the point of anger yet, he said, “because I thought it would pass, it would repair itself.”
His hearing, however, has not come back, and it’s made the legendary singer question whether returning to performing live will be a possibility. According to the musician, it’s not entirely a bad thing, considering there are things he doesn’t want to perform live anymore.
“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?’” he explained. “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.’”
During the interview, the 81-year-old Simon also described the last several years of his life as difficult, not just because of aging but because he contracted COVID. The infectious disease that launched a global pandemic in 2020 “has left him physically frail,” according to The Times.
“Boy, have I been beaten up in these last couple of years,” Simon said, before quipping, “But I look good, right?”