Connecting With Fans: Paul Simon Invites Fan On Stage To Play Song After She Yells That She Learned Guitar To It

from the a-nice-way-to-connect dept

Carl J points us to a story from a couple months back, of how singer Paul Simon found a neat way to connect with fans (well, one fan in particular). As you can see in the YouTube video, Simon invited one fan on-stage to play a song.

If you listen very closely, at the very beginning of the video, with the crowd cheering, you can hear a female voice yell out: “I learned to play guitar on this song!” Simon hears it, goes over to the mic, and repeats the statement back as a question. When the woman yells yes, he waves her up on stage, and tells her to come on up. He then gives her the guitar, and tells her to play. The look on her face is priceless. She looks like she’s going to have a heart attack. But then she goes through with it, and the band joins in, and the crowd loves it. Apparently, this all happened at a show in Toronto.

As we’ve discussed, one of the key “scarcities” out there that musicians can really use to connect with fans is authenticity. And the thing about this video is that it’s such a genuine and authentic moment. Obviously, he connected with that one fan… but he also connected with everyone else in the building, judging from the cheers they gave. Furthermore, the video already has a few hundred thousand views, again allowing Simon to connect with more fans who are impressed by his decision here. It may seem like a simple thing. And, in fact, it is a simple thing. But no one said connecting with fans needed to be complicated at all. You just have to do it. And Paul Simon did in this case.

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Comments on “Connecting With Fans: Paul Simon Invites Fan On Stage To Play Song After She Yells That She Learned Guitar To It”

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ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So, she might be a good actor. Nothing impossible about that.

And you might be an alien from another planet. It is entirely possible, but very, very, very unlikely. If it was an act, this woman needs an Oscar right now, and needs to be signed up for every drama out there because she is far more convincing than every actor I’ve seen out there.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

About a decade or so ago I saw James Brown perform. There was a much younger guy in the audience dressed up just like him, dancing to his songs just like him.

Eventually James invited him up on the stage to dance with him. He kept him around and let him sing a song by himself while James stood back and watched. It was awesome. The look on the guy’s face was priceless.

Back in the 90s I saw Soundgarden. They did a cover of Spinal Tap’s Big Bottoms. They let someone from the audience come up and sing it. I though, “Oh, like this random kid is going to know the lyrics.” He did, and once again, it was awesome.

ShadowCaster says:

Re: [:SITD:] does such things too

Same for [:SITD:] (Shadows in the Dark), their singer jumps somewhere near the end of a concert down from the stage with the microphone and moves among the fans, inviting them to sing with him. Really cool.
They also had an contest for the best fan-made remix which will be released on the next single.

I think a lot of musicians, especially from the indy part, have understood how music works quite well.

Not That Chris (profile) says:

Forever ago I went to see a Reel Big Fish concert with a few friends, and for one of their more popular songs (I suppose maybe their only popular song depending on your taste in music), they let people come up for each of the instruments (drums, guitar, etc.) and let them play as an impromptu band. I don’t recall it going so well (as some of them may have exaggerated their ability to play their selected instruments), but it was still wildly amusing and a great example of how to get fans involved and make sure they know how much the band appreciates them.

Donny (profile) says:


A gig I was at recently, a girl was recording video with her cameraphone. Instead of the usual “security shines a torch on offender and tells her to stop” you see at gigs though, what happened was this: the lead singer spotted her, and grabbed the camera off her, and sang into it, and ran in between the bassist and drummer, and sang into it again, and handed it back to her.

It’s not something you can fake. You can’t give a performer a “If X happens, do Y, then fans will like you more” heads-up. You can’t draw up a cheat-sheet or present the how-to at a conference.

But if you just hold a certain attitude, a certain approach, to other people, to your music, to your gigs, then you’ll make the most of the opportunities to gain people’s good-will and admiration. And then you’ll deserve the fruit that fall for you, and that’s all it comes down to.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ANTIQUE TECH, been done for at least a century.

Way to go, repeating the same thing that Mike’s been saying since forever. And repeating the same thing the trolls have been saying for just as long.

Ironic that you’re just repeating the same old spiel we’ve heard ever single time a CWF article is written.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: ANTIQUE TECH, been done for at least a century.

a CENTURY? I’m fairly sure that the concept of “customer service” has been around for millenia…. I realise that’s hard to grasp when so many corporations these days not to mention many individuals think they have a *right* to be paid no matter what but giving a little something back will *always* ultimately get you more than demanding.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: ANTIQUE TECH, been done for at least a century.

Very little that Mike proposes is completely new, it’s just common sense and a way to deal with things that don’t involve legal action or “fighting piracy”. It’s a shame so many of the regular “anti Mike” commenters seem to completely miss this.

Well, to be fair, most of the regular “anti Mike” commenters and common sense still need to connect with each other.

mojo says:

U2 details

During their “Rattle and Hum” tour in the late 80s/early 90s, Bono broke his arm. He would usually play acoutic guitar during the band’s cover of “People Get Ready,” but his broken arm obviously made this impossible.

So, on every show for the rest of the tour, Bono would invite a random fan to come on stage and play his guitar.

It was an inspired choice and gave a few dozen fans the greatest moment of their life. Of course the rest of the crowd went wild and it helped reinforce the strong connection U2 has always made with their audience.

CharlieM (profile) says:

The Who did this in the 70's (I think)

Something very similar to this happened in the 70’s at a Who concert (I believe at Madison Square Garden in NYC). Keith Moon was too drunk to continue playing the show, and they grabbed some guy from the audience to finish the show.

It is completely possible that this is an urban myth, but I always thought “Damn, the Who kicks ass”.

I tried to Google it, couldn’t find it, any other Tech Dirt readers remember hearing this/collaborate the story?

Schmoo says:

Re: The Who did this in the 70's (I think)

Minor quibble…

> …too drunk to continue playing…

I have it on good authority that in Keith’s case, there is no such thing as ‘too drunk to play’. Too drunk to get to the kit without help, maybe, but once he was perched on the stool he was away. The story’s true, but it was sleeping pills or somesuch that knackered him, not mere alcohol 🙂

Rob says:

Green Day’s been doing similar things too in their last couple of tours – getting 2 – 3 people on stage and giving them an instrument. Granted, I’m not sure if it was staged or not, but it seemed pretty genuine and got the fans into it. Last one I went to, Billy Joe Armstrong grabbed an iPhone or a camera off a fan and filmed the band and the crowd briefly before giving it back.

But then Billy Joe can really work a crowd.

kyle clements (profile) says:

connecting with fans.

Several years ago, I was at an ‘ohGr’ show in Toronto.

One fan was holding up a camera and was snapping away. Ogre (the front man) took the camera, walked around the stage, and began taking close-ups of each of the band mates before returning the camera.

The reaction from the fans was overwhelming. Even though it wasn’t my camera, even though I didn’t have the photos, seeing the singer do something cool like that just made me like him even more.

For him, it’s just a little thing. For the fans, it’s huge.

TechnoMage (profile) says:

Disturbed did something similar for disabled at concert

I was at a local show with Disturbed and there was a guy with two crutches(the permanent ones that wrap around the forearm) and he was next to a mosh pit and the lead singer saw this and called him a real BadA** and brought him up on stage (to sit off to stage left). Then they went ahead and did the same for everyone with a wheelchair or crutches, and there was 2 more people there with wheelchairs (this was kinda a small venue). When 10 Thousand Fists came out, to put it in a time frame if anyone cares.

This act was a small gesture, but still makes me enjoy the memory of the concert, which would make me more interested in going and seeing them again(and it’s also a great PR move too(I’m talking about them/then)).

Bodo (user link) says:

There was even a better performance by another fan of Paul Simon

Video is a little bit shaky in the first 10 seconds, but then very good.

This is for 100% NO fake. I know this person. Paul Simon forgot the lyrics, Mr. Fournier told him…and so in the end he was invited to sing the whole song as a duet with him. It is incredible good how they share the lyrics (this is not a duet song at all). This was never planed.

Anthony says:

Re: There was even a better performance by another fan of Paul Simon

They both were complete fakes. Paul F. sure knows Paul S.,
he brags about their meetings constantly. In today’s world, it
is too dangerous to bring anyone you don’t know on the stage.
Even Paul laughed at that girl in a press conference. Oh sure
Paul takes stranger to meet with his senator too. That sing
along was so funny, he was half drunk. I can’t believe how
many people believe this stuff.

Anonymous Coward says:

I was at a Simon & Garfunkel concert a couple of years ago and Paul noticed a fan on her cell phone and then holding it up so her friend could hear. He motioned for her to hand him her cell phone and then carried on a couple minute conversation with her friend. The audience thought it was great and you can only imagine what her friend must have thought. S&G do put on a great show.

Kaden (profile) says:

Re: And he didn't mind she violated his IP

She should have learned guitar by playing something entirely original. As it stands, she stole Simon’s material, and will now leverage that theft and her subsequent exposure into 10s of dollars of adsense profit and a heartwarming audition segment on America’s Got Talent, with no thought whatsoever to the hundreds of hardworking music industry employees she’s condemning to a life of dumpster diving and convenience store hold-ups.

Mojo says:

Gimme a break, these people are not plants or shills.

On the other hand, it IS entirely possible – even probable – that after the first time Simon did this as part of a genuinely freak accident and saw how wild the crowd went and how much publicity it got – that he started to “spontaneously” bring a fan in on the action at every show.

The fan is still genuine, but the moment planned for.

Even though U2 did it at a lot of consecutive shows, they had a “legitamite” reason behind it – Bono’s arm was indeed broken and couldn’t play guitar! If Simon is indeed doing it more than once, his reason is simple – it gets attention!

MikeVx (profile) says:

The good ones know the value of fan interaction

Swedish singer Nanne Gr?nvall sometimes involves audience members by holding the microphone up to a fan for a round of a chorus or two. She seems to do this mostly in small venues such as shopping malls, but has also done a few instances (I have no idea if those are staged) on major television programs. I wouldn’t be surprised if doing these small venues gives her more fan cred than other less sociable singers get.

Now some people will no doubt comment that a singer doing shopping mall concerts is a has-been. This particular “has-been” has been doing appearances on Melodifestivalen, which is the Swedish feed platform for the Eurovision song contest. She’s placed high in Eurovision in the past.

I think the point Mike is trying to make he is that these little moments do happen, and the smart entertainer could learn a bit about fan involvement from such as Paul Simon, or Nanne Gr?nvall.

Part of why I bother to collect albums from a singer whose songs I can’t understand without Google Translate is the energy she has and her fan interaction.

And to throw in the obligatory copyright-paradox point, the only reason I know about Nanne at all is from an AMV (Anime Music Video, for those unfamiliar with the term) that combined Nannes “H?ll om mig nu” with clips from the anime “Princess Tutu”. The result of this is that I bought the Princess Tutu box set and have chased down every Nanne Gr?nvall album I can find.

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