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Paul Simon’s retirement letter is a rare, sweet gesture in a volatile industry

Reuters/Lucas Jackson
By Amy X. Wang
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Legendary American singer-songwriter Paul Simon is making his last rounds.

Simon, who is 76, announced today (Feb. 5) that he is retiring from the road after the conclusion of his next tour. “It feels a little unsettling, a touch exhilarating, and something of a relief,” the musician—who, in the course of his six-decade career, wrote 14 top-10 singles, won 16 Grammy Awards, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—said in a letter he posted to Twitter.

Paul Simon/Twitter

It is a sweet, calm note—and it is highly unusual.

Music, a turbulent industry in many ways, rarely affords artists the chance to retire in peace. Its lifestyle is fast and ruthless; one only need remember Kurt Cobain’s infamous suicide note to get a sense of the toll the business takes on its biggest stars. And unless you’re regularly topping the charts, music also doesn’t pay much, which has become an even bigger problem in the streaming age. (Steely Dan’s 69-year-old Donald Fagen even went back on tour last fall to keep making money.)

“I am very grateful for a fulfilling career,” Simon wrote in his letter. The rarity of retirement letters from musicians speaks for itself.

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