On 5 February 2018, the Boxer announced he would hang up his boxing gloves. Paul Simon (who was 76 at the time) spoke about his retirement from touring in a letter to his fans, adding he would embark on the farewell concert tour “Homeward Bound”.
His words were:
“I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to reach the point where I’d consider bringing my performing career to a natural end. Now I know: it feels a little unsettling, a touch exhilarating and something of a relief.
I love making music, my voice is still strong, and my band is a tight, extraordinary group of gifted musicians. I think about music constantly.”
Then he explained that the key factors for his decision were the time he had to spend away from his family and the death of his long-time friend, guitarist Vincent Nguini.
After that final tour, he added, he would still do the “the occasional performance in a (hopefully) acoustically pristine hall,” and donate the proceedings to philanthropies “particularly those whose objective is to save the planet, ecologically.”
He ended with these words “I am very grateful for a fulfilling career and, of course, most of all to the audiences who heard something in my music that touched their hearts.”
Toward the end of his Farewell Tour he released “In the Blue Light”, a collection of reinterpretations of lesser-known songs that he felt had been overlooked when he had written them. It felt it as an occasion “to have a second shot at fixing the original work,” he told the Telegraph in an interview. “Poets do it all the time. Walt Whitman’s got I don’t know how many versions of ‘Leaves of Grass.’ But in pop music, you go into a studio and get a version that’s good and say: There it is!”
The bronze Boxer at Rest, also known as the Terme Boxer or Boxer of the Quirinal, is a Hellenistic Greek sculpture of a seated nude fighter, who looks bruised and battered and is still wearing his leather hand-wrap. It is 128 cm high and dates back to a period between 330 to 50 BCE. He was discovered in 1885 on Rome’s Quirinal Hill, possibly from the remains of the Baths of Constantine, and is now in the collection of the National Museum of Rome.
The statue comes from a period in Greek art which is away from idealised heroic depictions of the body and youth, but employs realism to create great pathos and humanity and explore dark inner depths
When the statue was shown for the first time outside Europe, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) in 2013, Jerry Saltz enumerated the six distinctive features of the statue on New York magazine (15 July 2013) :
(i) The Pose, distinct for its massiveness and “elemental” form,
(ii) The Face, noted for the large brow and columnar neck,
(iii) The Blood, noted by its inlaid copper upon the bronze statue itself,
(iv) The Scared Genitals, distinct for being infibulated for aesthetic purposes of ancient times,
(v) The Hands, noted for being astounding yet gentle at the same time,
(vi) The Foresight, referring to the sculptor’s strength of vision which resembles and conjures Goya’s Giant.
The Met wrote “The rules for ancient Greek boxing were different than they are today. A boxer had to face one opponent after another, typically without significant pauses, and blows were dealt primarily to the head and face.”
It also spoke about the magical powers of the statue, having noted that parts of the toes and fingers are worn from frequent touching in antiquity. “It has been suggested that the statue was attributed healing powers, as was known to have occurred with other statues of famous athletes.” And it was thanks to its popular veneration that the bronze statue was protected so carefully in antiquity when the Baths of Constantine were destroyed.