Paul Simon ended his final concert tour under a moonlit sky on home turf Saturday, telling an audience in a Queens, NY, park that their cheers "mean more than you can know." Simon performed at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which he said was a 20-minute bicycle ride from where he grew up, ending the landmark night with his first big hit, "The Sound of Silence." The 76-year-old Simon isn't retiring, and hasn't ruled out occasional future performances. But he's said this is his last time out on the road, reports the AP, and he isn't alone among his peers; Elton John and Kiss are also doing goodbye swings. The return to New York raised memories of Simon's two iconic shows in Manhattan's Central Park, in 1981 with former partner Art Garfunkel and in 1991 on his own.
Simon didn't directly address the special nature of this occasion, and his only guest was wife Edie Brickell, who came out to whistle the solo in "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard." But there were many references to familiar surroundings, like when he paused and beamed at an airplane descending over the park as he prepared to sing "Homeward Bound." "Welcome to New York," he said. When Simon finished singing "Kodachrome," with its memorable line about "the crap I learned in high school," he said, "take that, Forest Hills High School." But, he conceded, "I actually had a good time there." His 26-song set spanned more than 50 years. An often dour performer, Simon has been animated and talkative during the final shows. He seems eager for the freedom that awaits, said Simon biographer Robert Hilburn. "He's been happy, relieved," Hilburn said. "There's a burden off of him."