Paul Simon On How Partnerships Break Up

There’s an interview clip of Paul Simon explaining how partnerships break up you’ll want to watch. Here’s the big idea – and it’s as important in our personal lives as it is at work – we change, and that’s ok. Partnerships lift everyone up. When they no longer serve everyone, it’s best not to ignore their new reality, and move forward. 

Here’s my paraphrased transcript:

While a partnership is in its ascendancy and things are going well, you’re really united. There’s a meshing of egos, so that you tend ot think as one. 

As the partnership reaches its zenith, and in our case, that was around the time of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” it starts to disintegrate in that each person has a clear image/self-image, and at that time of recording the “Bridge Over Troubled Water” Arty was filming “Catch 22,” and he was going into movies, and I wrote this tune “Bridge Over Troubled Water” 

He was in Rome at the time, I was in New York, and I spoke to him on the phone and I said, “Well, I really wrote a real good song for you, and come on back as soon as you get a chance and we’ll record it, cause it’s a real goodie. 

And when he came back I played it for him and he didn’t think so. Sort of awkward, you know? I insisted it was good. He felt I should sing it. Now, why? This is something unique to partnerships I guess. Why I didn’t listen to him and sing it is something that’s psychologically interesting I think. 

That instead I insisted, actually, I wrote the song that was in a key that was too high for me to sing in order for him to sing it. And actually I don’t regret it because he sang it very well. 

When we used to perform it on stage, it’s a piano song and not a guitar song, and we had a piano player. Arty would sing the song, he has this beautiful choir boy voice, and the piano player would play, and I would be standing off to the side. And when he first finished the song, the first few performances, people lept up and they gave him a standing ovation, and my reaction was, “I wrote that. I wrote that song. I’m standing here on the side [and he’s getting all the applause].” 

And then he introduces the piano player, and then ehhh, I kind of shuffle back on and do the next tune. Anyway, this is how partnerships break up. 

Good partnerships keep reinvesting in the partnership. It’s harder than it sounds. And even though Paul Simon did OK, when it’s worth keeping the band together, it can really be worth keeping the band together too.