Breaking: Harper Simon

November 18, 2009 10:13 AM ET

Who: The 37-year-old son of Paul Simon, who's casting out under his own name for the first time with his fall debut (read the RS review). Simon says the process of becoming a solo artist was a "journey of discovery" and though he was hesitant to step into the spotlight, "I realized, 'If I don't do this I'm going to regret it.'"

Sounds Like: Simon's self-titled debut is a gorgeous collection of vintage-sounding country-folk tunes like the shuffling "Tennessee" and the dreamy psychedelic ballad "The Audit." Have a listen to his Elliott Smith-esque "Shooting Star."

Vital Stats:

• Simon was raised in New York by his dad after Paul and mom Peggy Harper split in 1975. He started to play guitar at 12 and later quit the Berklee College of Music and relocated to London, where he performed in a rock band called Menlo Park.

• Simon began work on his debut three years ago in Nashville, when he booked himself studio time with legendary producer Bob Johnston, who worked on classic '60s and '70s LPs by Bob Dyan and Johnny Cash.

• Pals like Sean Lennon, Adam Green and Petra Haden — and of course, his famous dad — popped into later sessions in New York and Los Angeles to lend their talents and support. Paul plays acoustic guitar and co-wrote three tunes.

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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