Paul Simon is retiring. "When I finished that last album, a voice said 'That's it, you're done'," the legendary singer-songwriter explains.

At 76, seated in a plush London hotel room, Simon looks his age yet his manner is sprightly and the years melt away when he talks.

"I'm not stopping because I'm exhausted," he insists.

"I'm stopping because it feels like a good moment to think about other things."


His farewell tour is drawing to a close, with just a clutch of American dates left in September before he quits the stage.

"I've travelled a lot but there's a bunch of places I haven't been, the South Pacific Islands, Cambodia."

The night before, he played his final show in Britain, in Hyde Park, in front of 65,000 people. He closed the show with an acoustic version of his 1960s classic, The Sound of Silence.

Yet despite this talk of retirement, he has a new album out this month, In the Blue Light. The songs themselves aren't new, but rather new versions of obscure personal favourites from his solo back catalogue.

There is a huge breadth to Simon's career, which began with novelty pop in the late 1950s before flowering into the luscious harmonised folk of his superstar partnership with Art Garfunkel.

Simon's subsequent solo material merged jazzy grooves and complex chord structure into 1970s soft-rock, before he enjoyed a second wave of chart-topping success with the dazzling incorporation of world music rhythms in the 1980s and 90s. A flourish of outstanding albums since 2000 brought this together with a subtle electronic patina.

Simon makes offhand remarks about possibly collaborating again with virtuoso jazz guitarist Bill Frisell (who appears on In the Blue Light), and making guest appearances with experimental New York chamber sextet yMusic.

"What was interesting about declaring a final tour is that I have to keep my word ... at least for a while."