Multiple generations of musicians gathered to honor celebrated folk singer-songwriter Paul Simon at Homeward Bound: A Grammy Salute To The Songs Of Paul Simon, which took place back on April 6th at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre and finally aired on CBS on Wednesday. Among those who paid tribute to the acclaimed musician were Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews, the Jonas Brothers, Garth Brooks, Woody Harrelson, Jimmy Cliff, Shaggy, and Trombone Shorty.
The ceremony began with a performance by Brad Paisley, who played “Kodachrome” from Simon’s 1973 album There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. Actor Woody Harrelson then took the stage and delivered what Grammy.com describes as “a rambling, weirdly moving monologue” detailing how the Simon’s music helped usher him through emotionally difficult times in college. “The songs of Paul Simon really are like old friends,” he remarked, referencing the title of one such song before singing the opening verse.
Highlights of the program included Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood‘s take on “The Boxer”, Billy Porter‘s rendition of “Loves Me Like A Rock”, Jimmy Cliff and Shaggy’s reggae-fied “Mother & Child Reunion”, Trombone Shorty and Irma Thomas‘s “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” duet, and the Jonas Brothers’ cover of “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”. Two of the most engaging performances, though, came from Stevie Wonder and Dave Matthews.
Stevie Wonder performed alongside R&B legend Ledisi, who joined him on Simon & Garfunkel‘s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Wonder then invited the Jonas Brothers and percussionist Sheila E. to join them on “Mrs. Robinson”, during which he played harpejji instead of piano, allowing him to embellish the upbeat song with acoustic guitar-like flourishes.
Stevie Wonder With Jonas Brothers, Ledisi, & Sheila E. – “Mrs. Robinson” (Paul Simon)
Later on, Dave Matthews played a collaborative cover of “Under African Skies” with fellow Africa native Angélique Kidjo before busting some serious dance moves while playing “You Can Call Me Al”. The particularly animated singer-songwriter looked extra sharp here, having traded his typical black tee and jeans for a dapper suit in honor of the occasion.
Dave Matthews With Angélique Kidjo – “You Can Call Me Al” (Paul Simon)
Paul Simon himself closed the show with three songs. First came “Graceland” and “American Tune”, which featured Rhiannon Giddens. Simon then finished with a solo rendition of “The Sound of Silence”, a song he has traditionally used to close his gigs. The folk rock icon’s finale was a fitting reminder that in addition to being one of history’s most celebrated songwriters, he can still deliver a breathtaking performance, even at 81 years of age.
Watch Homeward Bound: A Grammy Salute To The Songs Of Paul Simon on-demand in its entirety via CBS or Paramount+ here.