When it came time for 37-year-old Harper Simon to record his self-titled debut record, he wanted to do it with musicians who were around in the ‘60s and ‘70s so as to capture the sound he was emulating.
Instead of taking advantage of connections he had through his famous father, Paul Simon, the younger Simon hooked up with producer Bob Johnston, whom he had long admired for his ability to work with soft voices and acoustic guitars. Through Johnston, he was hooked up with Charlie McCoy, Hargus "Pig" Robbins, Gene Chrisman and several other notable players who had made a name for themselves before the younger Simon was born.
"The ‘60s and the ‘70s, I really think, is the golden era for the classic album," Simon said. "The great albums, really. I just grew up listening to records from that time. I think everybody who loves albums loves albums from the ‘60s and the ‘70s."
Simon was particularly interested in the long-form album and attempted to create one of his own with "Harper Simon," which was released last month. He's not quite sure whether he accomplished it and is just now achieving the sound he always wanted with his touring band, which includes Gregg Foreman of Cat Power, Mike Bloom of Rilo Kiley, Russell Simmons of John Spencer Blues Explosion and Jeff Hill of Rufus Wainwright.
"I just did my best to make a good album where every song was as good as every other song and they fit together in a cohesive way and it has an arc and a structure," Simon said. "I think the album is a great art form."
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While Simon would rather talk about his touring band than his famous father, he did say that since he grew up watching his father work and is a fan of his music that it did have an influence on his own sound. But that influence isn't any different than other musicians he listened to while growing up such as the Rolling Stones.
"Mostly it's a pain in the ass," Simon said of being the son of a rock star. "Mostly it's a drag, I have to talk about it all the time. People introduce me on television as the son of blah, blah, blah. People have a lot of suspicion because people don't like the son of a rock star making records.
"I have to deal with a lot of things I'd rather not deal with, but I shouldn't complain, really, because everybody has been really generous about my record so far."