Oct 132011

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

“I usually come in second [to Bob Dylan],” Paul Simon told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “I don’t like coming in second.”

Well, bad news Paul. Bob beat you to something else: turning 70. When Dylan turned 70 in May, it was accompanied with all manner of fanfare, tributes, and think pieces. We ourselves held a five-day celebration. Paul’s 70th birthday today comes with noticeably less pomp and circumstance. No lavish tributes, no critic navel-gazing, not much notice of any kind. It’s an occasion worth celebrating though, whether he was first or not.

In that spirit, we’ve put together a set of birthday covers for Mr. Simon. The songs all come from his solo work (plenty of Simon & Garfunkel covers to be found here) and include some of his biggest hits performed by some of his biggest admirers. Wish the man a happy birthday below and remember why Paul Simon is second to no one.

Streetlight Manifesto – Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard (Paul Simon cover)

Last year, Jersey ska giants Streetlight Manifesto disappointed some fans by returning from a hiatus with…a cover album. The fact is, though, it was an incredibly good cover album, one we named the 16th best of the year. Hear why with their roaring horn-punk take on one of Simon’s biggest tunes.

Noah and the Whale – You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon cover)

Want proof that Paul Simon continues to inspire? Just yesterday John Wesley Harding and comedian Eugene Mirman parodied the iconic Chevy Chase-featuring “You Can Call Me Al” music video in Harding’s new video. Watch that, then check out Noah and the Whale’s 2008 b-side cover.

Candy Golde – The Boy in the Bubble (Paul Simon cover)

Featuring members of Wilco, Cheap Trick, and Eleventh Dream Day, Candy Golde knocked us out at SXSW this year with this cover. In stark contrast to Peter Gabriel’s stately cover last year, Candy Golde’s version rips your head off with Bun E. Carlos’ speedy drumming and Rick Rizzo’s crazy solos.

G. Love – 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (Paul Simon cover)

The Avett Brothers produced this song and their influence is obvious. Acoustic folk gets a high-octane twist with handclaps, stomps, and a big sing-along chorus.

Big Daddy – Graceland (Paul Simon cover)

Eighties cover band Big Daddy had the oldies-style covers shtick going two decades before the Baseballs. On “Graceland,” they turn Simon’s Africa-inflected ballad into an Elvis-esque tune, even cribbing melodies from “All Shook Up” for a dramatic transformation.

Check out more Paul Simon covers in the archive.

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