History: Did you know Paul Simon was inspired to write Homeward Bound after visiting and falling in love in Brentwood?
PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 December 2018 | UPDATED: 14:38 13 December 2018
Yui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images
This week, historian and vice-president of the Brentwood Writers’ Circle Sylvia Kent reveals more about the connection that half of the famous duo Simon and Garfunkel had with the borough.
Having just read the newly released biography of one of the worlds most popular American singers, Paul Simon, it was good to hear that today he still retains warm memories of his time spent in our town more than 50 years ago.
Of course, we have had many famous visitors over the years who either settled in Brentwood, attended school or entertained us at major venues, but this book on Paul Simon gives a great snapshot of how this notable musician remembers his early years making music in our town.
In 1963, Paul Simon, was just starting out in his career as a singer of folk songs.
Born in Newark, New Jersey in October 1941, his family moved to Kew Garden Hills, Queens, in New York where he lived for the next twenty years, right across the street to Arthur (Art) Garfunkel, born in November 1941.
Way back in the early 1960s, Paul had begun creating music with his schoolboy chum, Art.
They enjoyed the early music of the Chords, the Crewcuts and the Drifters and later Elvis Presley.
Paul’s early life was fast-paced and he and Art were inspired by early rock n roll music, then writing and recording their lyrics.
Paul took off for a trip to Europe in the early 60s and around that time, he met Dave McCausland, a young Englishman, from Brentwood.
Dave enjoyed Simon’s music so much, that he asked the young American to call in at his local Folk Club should he ever visit Brentwood.
He suggested performing at one of their Sunday evening folk shows.
Returning home, Dave told some of his Brentwood Folk Club regulars about the talented young American folk singer who played an extremely rare, Martin dreadnought guitar.
It wasn’t long before Paul visited Dave’s club at the Railway Tavern in Kings Road.
Happily, a local journalist/photographer who lived just opposite the Railway Tavern in Railway Square turned up for Paul’s first gig.
This was the late (and great) Dennis Rookard who was then working on various national and regional radio shows, including his beloved Hosi-Prog hospital radio.
He also made weekly recordings of the Folk Club sessions that included some original soundtracks of Paul’s early music.
Paul became great friends of the McCausland family and loved staying in their home whenever he came to England.
“Paul got along great with my father with all of us, in fact,” recalled Jonty McCausland, Dave’s younger brother.
“He played a few songs on the guitar and said he hoped to come back to England soon and do some more shows.”
At the time, Paul was singing songs that had been recorded by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan: “What have they done to the Rain, “The lily of the West” and “Geordie.”
Jonty’s sister Lynne told the author of Paul’s biography, Robert Hilburn: “Paul was special.
“It was like we adopted him and he adopted us,” she said. Eventually, her father began calling him his fifth son.”
During his earliest trip to Brentwood, Paul met a pretty, shy, 18-year-old Kathy Chitty, who became his first serious girlfriend.
She inspired some of his songs after they met.
Born in Romford, Kitty had worked in the folk club but later their lives went in different directions. The press had named her “Kathy, Paul Simons mysterious missing muse” when Paul originally, unsuccessfully, had tried to find her.
But thirty years later, at the height of his worldwide fame, the musician eventually discovered where she lived, and the two did manage to meet (with their families) in London.
We can thank Kathy for Paul’s distinctive famous song “Homeward Bound” as it was said, she was his inspiration.