Paul Simon may not yet have come to terms with the hearing loss in his left ear, but he is “beginning to.” The 81-year-old singer-songwriter talked about his ailment and ability to continue performing at a post-screening Q&A for In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday.
In the panel discussion alongside documentary director Alex Gibney, Simon told the audience “I haven’t accepted it entirely, but I’m beginning to,” when asked about his hearing loss.
“I play the guitar every day,” he added. “It’s the instrument that allows me to express myself creatively. But it’s also where I go for solace. If I’m feeling … ‘whatever.’ So it’s a very crucial thing to me. You know, something happens to you when you have some sort of disability that changes your awareness or changes how you interact with life.”
According to Simon there has been no improvement in his left ear, which has made a return to performing a challenge. “Usually when I finished an album I went out and toured with it, and then I have the opportunity to really investigate the piece. And then it evolves to another standard, and goes further,” he said. “Although a week from now I’m going to try and work with two guitarists who will play the parts that I played on the record, and see if I can sing the piece. I’m not sure how I can integrate my voice with the guitars.”
His ailment has not however kept Simon from composing new music. “I wrote a new song called ‘When I Learned to Play Guitar,’ but I don’t know if I’ll ever do anything with it,” he said at the TIFF premiere.
In May, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame artist, half of American folk duo Simon & Garfunkel, opened up about his hearing loss during an interview with the Times. Simon said his hearing loss happened while he was penning 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.”
The new documentary, helmed by the director of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Scientology doc Going Clear, covers Simon’s six-decade career, including the musician’s time in Simon & Garfunkel with his childhood friend Art Garfunkel, the recording of his hit 1986 solo album Graceland, and his later years recording in his home studio in Texas. Its release date is yet to be announced.