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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.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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