5 Songs You Didn’t Know That Sampled Paul Simon

Today, Paul Simon is considered one of the best and most influential songwriters of the 20th century and beyond.

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With songs to his credit like “Mrs. Robinson,” “Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes” and “The Boxer,” Simon has penned many of the most acclaimed tracks of all time.

[RELATED: Top 5 Performances in Paul Simon’s Grammy Tribute ‘Homeward Bound’]

To wit, the 81-year-old, New Jersey-born Simon’s songs have been sampled in a number of tracks by artists from Eminem to Common and more. Here, we will dive into several of those tracks to see just how far Simon’s songs have reached.

1. “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”

Sampled by Eminem

The at times-mournful, at times-up beat song by Simon, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” written for his 1975 album, Still Crazy After All These Years, was sampled in the 1997 rap song by Marshal Mathers, aka Eminem, in his 1997 song “Murder, Murder.” Simon’s guitar line runs through much of the song, which appeared on Eminem’s EP, Slim Shady EP. Eminem, who is never one to hold his tongue, raps about crime, family, and more in the song, which takes advantage of the emotive Simon song.

2. “Graceland”

Sampled by Living Colour

Simon’s song “Graceland” is also the title song of his 1986 LP. It was sampled in the song “Elvis Is Dead” by the rap group Living Colour. The band chopped up the lyric Maybe I’ve a reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland to create the chorus, I’ve got a reason to believe we all won’t be received at Graceland. This reformation touches on the fact that, though The King used Black music to gain fame, Blacks aren’t welcome in his home kingdom—at least, according to Living Colour. The song also samples Public Enemy.

3. “Leaves That Are Green”

Sampled by Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg sampled Simon’s 1965 song, “Leaves That Are Green,” in his track, “A New England.” The opening lines of the song, I was 21 years when I wrote this song / I’m 22 now, but I won’t be for long, are the same opening lines of Simon’s song, which appears on the 1966 Simon & Garfunkel album, Sounds of Silence. Bragg is an admitted fan of the duo, noting that they had a big impact on him.

4. “The Sound of Silence”

Sampled by Rush

Rush’s 1980 song, “The Spirit of Radio,” from the album Permanent Waves, samples the legendary Paul Simon song “The Sound of Silence” from the Simon & Garfunkel album of the same name. The song, which is about the new age of FM radio and the downsides of that from Rush’s point of view, samples its reggae ending lyrics from “The Sound of Silence.”

5. “Mrs. Robinson”

Sampled by Kid Rock

With a guitar lick used as part of the beats for Kid Rock’s raunchy 1993 song “Desperate Rado” from his album, The Polyfuze Method, “Mrs. Robinson” found a home in the Detroit rapper’s repertoire (though it’s not clear if Simon would appreciate the effort here from Rock). Either way, it’s yet another track that borrows from one of the greatest songwriters of the past 100 years.

Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

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