50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

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"50 Ways to Leave Your Lover"
Single by Paul Simon
from the album Still Crazy After All These Years
B-side"Some Folks' Lives Roll Easy"
ReleasedDecember 1975
Songwriter(s)Paul Simon
Paul Simon singles chronology
"Gone at Last"
"50 Ways to Leave Your Lover"
"Still Crazy After All These Years"

"50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" is a song by the American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. It was the second single from his fourth studio album, Still Crazy After All These Years (1975), released on Columbia Records. Backing vocals on the single were performed by Patti Austin, Valerie Simpson, and Phoebe Snow.[1] The song features a recognizable repeated drum riff performed by drummer Steve Gadd.

One of his most popular singles, "50 Ways" was released in December 1975 and began to see chart success in the new year. It became Simon's sole number-one hit as a solo artist on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, and was his highest position in France, where it peaked at number two. Elsewhere, the song was a top 20 hit in Canada and New Zealand. The single was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting sales of more than one million copies.


Following Simon's divorce from first wife Peggy Harper, Simon opted to take a more humorous approach to document the event. He recorded the song in a small New York City studio on Broadway and built the song around the drums in order to "avoid clutter".[2]

As with "American Tune" three years earlier, Simon found inspiration in classical music. The melody of the tune is based on "Tit er jeg glad" (Danish: Often I am happy), a 1917 love song by the Danish composer Carl Nielsen. [citation needed]


Billboard called it an "excellent song" that has "very clever lyrics" and an "easy to listen to melody."[3] Cash Box said that it is "a clever, commercial song about the elasticity of love, how easy it is to pull away and equally easy to snap back with it."[4] Record World said that the song "finds Simon aided by a crack team of session men and the unmistakable vocals of Phoebe Snow."[5] Spin listed the song as one of the "50 Worst Songs By Otherwise Great Artists".[6]

Charts and certifications[edit]

"50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" was Paul Simon's biggest solo hit and broke in the US in late 1975. It hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 on February 7, 1976 (his only number one on that chart as a solo act), soaring from number ten the previous week, and remained there for three weeks; it topped the adult contemporary chart for two weeks.[7] Overseas, on the UK Singles Chart, the song reached number 23 in January 1976. It was certified gold on March 11, 1976, and remained a best seller for nearly five months. Billboard ranked it as the No. 8 song of 1976.[8]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marc Eliot (2010), Paul Simon: A Life, John Wiley and Sons, p. 142, ISBN 978-0-470-43363-8
  2. ^ "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover". Super Seventies. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  3. ^ "Top Single Picks" (PDF). Billboard. December 13, 1975. p. 58. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  4. ^ "CashBox Singles Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. December 13, 1975. p. 16. Retrieved 2021-12-11.
  5. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. December 13, 1975. p. 1. Retrieved 2023-03-08.
  6. ^ https://www.spin.com/2022/07/the-50-worst-songs-by-otherwise-great-artists/
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 222.
  8. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1976
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ "RPM100: Singles" (PDF). RPM. 24 (21). Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada. February 21, 1976. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  11. ^ "The Programmers' Pop Music Playlist" (PDF). RPM. 24 (22). Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada. February 28, 1976. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  12. ^ "Paul Simon – 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  13. ^ "Paul Simon – 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  14. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 499. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  15. ^ "Paul Simon - Chart history". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  16. ^ "Paul Simon Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  17. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Paul Simon – {{{song}}}" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved November 12, 2015. To see peak chart position, click "TITEL VON Paul Simon"
  18. ^ "RPM100: Singles" (PDF). RPM. 26 (14–15). Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada. January 8, 1977. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  19. ^ "Pop Singles" Billboard December 25, 1976: Talent in Action-6
  20. ^ Top 50 Adult Contemporary Hits of 1976
  21. ^ "British single certifications – Paul Simon – 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  22. ^ "American single certifications – Paul Simon – 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  23. ^ "Original 1977 album liner notes", Paul Simon Greatest Hits.
  24. ^ "Tony Levin". Rolling Stone Australia. 2020-07-02. Retrieved 2023-11-02.

External links[edit]