Paul Simon says he is ‘beginning to’ accept his hearing loss | Paul Simon

Paul Simon has said he is “beginning to” come to terms with his almost complete hearing loss in his left ear, which is impacting his ability to perform music live.

The 81-year-old singer-songwriter was speaking at the world premiere of In Restless Dreams: the Music of Paul Simon at the Toronto international film festival.

“I haven’t accepted it entirely, but I’m beginning to,” Simon told the audience in a Q&A after the screening, alongside the documentary’s director Alex Gibney.

“I play the guitar every day. 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.”

He said there had been no improvement since he first revealed the hearing loss in May.

“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,” Simon 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,” he added.

In May, Simon revealed the hearing loss occurred while writing music for his most recent 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 said he was most feeling “frustration and annoyance” but not anger “because I thought it would pass, it would repair itself”. He also said it had changed his thinking about performing certain songs “that I don’t want to sing live” any more.

“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 said. “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.’”

Famed director Gibney, who also directed Scientology documentary Going Clear, Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room and Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, has turned his eye to Simon’s six-decade career in his latest documentary, In Restless Dreams. The three-and-a-half-hour film covers the musician’s time in Simon and 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.

General release dates for In Restless Dreams have yet to be announced, but it will be shown at London film festival in October.

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