Paul Simon: Words and Music

Paul Simon: Words and Music


Oct 11 2015 - Jan 18 2016
, 8AM- 6PM

Curated by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
On view at JMM October 11, 2015 – January 18, 2016

Simon Travel logo

First Stop on Nationwide Tour

Raised in Queens. Enshrined in Cleveland. Loved in Baltimore.

This October the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s exhibit, Paul Simon: Words and Music, which celebrates the life of one of America’s greatest singer/songwriters, will make Baltimore its first stop on a nationwide tour.

Opening October 11 at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM), Paul Simon: Words and Music will feature autobiographical films, videos of select performances and more than 80 artifacts, chronicling the life, career and creative inspiration of two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Paul Simon. Included is original narration by the artist, recorded specifically for the exhibit and unavailable elsewhere, as well as costumes, film clips, letters and memorabilia associated with his career.

“We wanted to give Paul Simon the opportunity to tell his own story. We interviewed him for hours and asked him how he got started, his creative process, and how he came up with some of his songs,” said Karen L. Herman, Vice President of Curatorial Affairs for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “His stories provide context to the places where his music intersected with our culture, from Simon & Garfunkel to Saturday Night Live. We used that to really define how the exhibit would work, with much of the footage used to guide visitors through his life and career.”

The exhibit, which opened at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland last October, offers real insight into Simon’s creative process. It documents the evolution of lyrics to songs like The Boxer (starting with notes made on an in-flight magazine) and the album Graceland (scratched out on a yellow pad). It covers all the genres of Simon’s work – folk, rock and world music.

“So much of the soundtrack of our lives was written by a handful of talented people like Paul Simon”, says JMM director, Marvin Pinkert, “their creative metaphors – ‘sounds of silence’, ‘bridge over troubled waters’, echo through the years evoking emotional memories.”

Exhibit artifacts range from guitars like Simon’s 1967 Guild F-30-NT-Spec, used to write and record most of Simon & Garfunkel’s canon, and Simon’s first guitar, to handwritten lyrics, personal summer camp correspondence between Paul and Art, jackets, rare photos, and more.

In addition, the exhibit will be a platform for JMM programs that explore the stories of great Jewish singer/songwriters, from Simon and Bob Dylan to Theodore Bikel and Debbie Friedman. Through programs and events, JMM will look at the intersection of folk, folk-rock and the Jewish experience, including political activism in the 1960s; the meeting of African-American and Jewish musical traditions; the incorporation of folk melodies into synagogue music; and the Jewish entrepreneurs who shaped the folk and folk-rock record labels and the Greenwich Village folk scene.

Curated by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Paul Simon: Words and Music opened in Cleveland in October, 2014. It was created to mark the 50th year of his career. It will run at the JMM through January 18, 2016.

About Paul Simon

Simon, a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, a winner of 12 Grammy Awards (three of which were albums of the year) and a 2003 recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as half of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. His song, Mrs. Robinson from the motion picture, The Graduate, was named in the top ten of the American Film Institute’s 100 Years … 100 Songs. He was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2002 and was named as one of Time Magazine’s “100 People Who Shape Our World” in 2006. In 2007, Simon was awarded the first annual Library of Congress Gershwin Price for Popular Song. In 2011, Simon was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

About the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s mission is to engage, teach and inspire through the power of rock and roll. The institutions carries out its mission by giving voice to the stories of the people, artifacts and events that shaped rock and roll- through Museum exhibits, materials in the Museum’s Library and Archives, traveling exhibitions and a wide array of innovative educational programs and activities. The 150,000 square-foot Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Cleveland’s rapidly developing North Coast Harbor, is home to a major artifact collections, four state –of-the-art theaters and year-round educational and concert programming. For more information, please call 216.781.ROCK (7625) or visit


Paul Simon was not the only one!  Want to know more about Jewish links to folk and folk rock? Click here for a preview of our “pop-up” exhibit – An American Tune.

Photos of Exhibit (by Will Kirk)

The Baltimore presentation of Paul Simon: Words and Music has been made possible by the generous support of:

The Herbert Bearman Foundation
Richard and Rosalee C. Davison Foundation
Ben Greenwald
The David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation
The Lewin Family
Michelle and Ira Malis Philanthropic Fund
Jeff Scherr
Duke and Phyllis Zimmerman

Help support exhibits, programs, and projects like this at the Jewish Museum of Maryland by making a gift online today!

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