Paul Simon has been working on an album of new material at New York’s Reservoir Studios, but that’s not the only music he lent a hand with there this week. According to a Facebook post from cabaret singer Barbara Fasano, Simon, 80, guided her on a rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Old Friends” that was already in progress before she realized the rock legend was rolling tape in the same building.
“We had laid down four tracks and were about to record ‘Old Friends,’ so how could I resist?,” wrote Fasano, a regular at New York jazz clubs such as Birdland. “Around 4:00, there was Mr. Simon having lunch in the communal kitchen. I introduced myself and said I was sorry to interrupt, but we were actually about to record his song. His face lit up and he was on his feet, walking into our studio. Everyone got introduced and Paul Simon pulled out his guitar and coached us on voicings and instrumentation. In a crazy surreal moment, he began to play ‘Old Friends’ on the same guitar he’s been playing on his solo records for 50 years, while I sang along. He stayed with us for nearly an hour. And then we laid down ‘Old Friends,’ now sprinkled with pixie dust by this American icon.”
Simon’s new album is provisionally titled The Seven Psalms, the inspiration for which apparently came to him in a dream, according to his conversations with Malcolm Gladwell as part of the Miracle and Wonder audiobook series. A spokesperson for Simon tells SPIN there’s no release date for or additional information about the project as of yet.
It will be Simon’s first album of new material since 2016’s Stranger to Stranger. Two years later, Simon re-recorded 10 album tracks from his solo discography for In the Blue Light, which featured classical- and jazz-leaning musicians such as Bill Frisell, The National’s Bryce Dessner, Wynton Marsalis and the ensemble yMusic.
Simon retired from touring in 2018 but continues to make occasional live appearances, including his first performance at the Newport Folk Festival last month in Newport, R.I.