Artist Info. Lyrics Guitar Tabs Misheard Lyrics


S I M O N     A N D    G A R F U N K E L


Formed 1962, New York City, New York

Paul Simon (b. Oct. 13, 1941, Newark, N.J.), guitar., voc.;
Arthur Garfunkel (b. Nov. 5, 1941, New York City), voc.

 

When they were in the sixth grade together in Forest Hills, New York, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel found they could harmonize. The first songs they sang together were doo-wop hits, but soon they were singing their own songs. One of those was "Hey, Schoolgirl," which the duo recorded in 1957. An agent of Big Records present at the session signed them on the spot. Calling themselves Tom and Jerry ("Tom Graph" and "Jerry Landis"), they had a Top Fifty hit with "Hey, Schoolgirl" and appeared on American Bandstand. Garfunkel estimates the record sold 150,000 copies. When a few follow-ups flopped, Tom and Jerry split up.

When they met again in 1962, Garfunkel was studying architecture after trying to record as Arty Garr, and Simon was studying English literature but devoting most of his time to writing and selling his songs. In 1964 Simon, who had just dropped out of law school and quit his job as a song peddler for a music publishing company, took one of his originals to Columbia Records producer Tom Wilson. Wilson bought the song and signed the duo.

Wednesday Morning 3 AM -- a set that combined traditional folk songs with Simonís originals and Dylan anthems like "The Times They Are A-Changiní," performed only by the two singers accompanied by Simonís acoustic guitar -- was lost in the glut of early Dylan imitations. Simon went to work the folk circuit in London, where in May 1965 he recorded a solo album. Several months later, he was performing around England and the Continent when he received the news that one of the songs on Wednesday Morning -- "Sounds of Silence" -- was the #1 single in the United States.

It was not quite the song Simon and Garfunkel had recorded. Wilson (who had played a part in electrifying Dylanís music) had added electric guitars, bass and drums to the original track. The remixed single was at the vanguard of "folk rock." Simon returned to hit the college circuit with Garfunkel and to record a second duo album. Along with the re dubbed "Sounds of Silence," the album of that name comprised folk-rock remakes of many of the songs from Simonís U.K. solo album. The production was elaborate, an appropriate setting for Simonís self-consciously poetic songs, and Simon and Garfunkel turned out to be acceptable to both teenagers (who found them relevant) and adults (who found them intelligent). In 1966 they placed four singles and three albums in the Top Thirty (the revived Wednesday Morning, Sounds of Silence, and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme). "Homeward Bound" (#5), "I Am a Rock" (#3), and Parsley Sage reached the Top Five.

Simon was not a prolific writer -- most of the material on the first three Simon and Garfunkel albums had been composed between 1962 and 1965 -- and once Parsley Sage was completed, the duoís output slowed considerably. They released only two singles in 1967: "At the Zoo" (#16) and "Fakiní It" (#23). Simon was developing the more colloquial, less literary style he would bring to his later solo work; the first sign of it was the elliptical "Mrs. Robinson," composed for the soundtrack of The Graduate. The film and the soundtrack album were followed within two months by Bookends; "Mrs. Robinson" hit #1 in June, Bookends soon afterward.

Simon and Garfunkel produced Bookends with engineer Roy Halee, who had worked on every Simon and Garfunkel session. (With Parsley Sage, Halee had taken a major role in the arranging; it was Columbiaís first album recorded on eight tracks.) "The Boxer" (#7), Simon and Garfunkelís only release in 1969, was Columbiaís first song recorded on 16 tracks.

Bridge over Troubled Water took almost two years to make, as the duo began to pursue their individual projects. They often worked separately in the studio, and as their music became more complex they performed less often on stage; their only appearance in 1969 was on their own network television special. Around this period, Garfunkelís acting career began with a role in Catch-22. Soon after the recordís release, Simon and Garfunkel staged a brief but very successful tour, which quieted rumors about a breakup, but by the time Garfunkelís second movie, Carnal Knowledge, and Simonís 1972 solo album came out, it was clear that their individual solo careers were taking precedence [see entries].

According to Simon, following a last show at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, the two did not speak for years. They left their joint career at its peak, though in recent years both have said that their initial intention was not to break up permanently but just to take a break from each other. After reaching #1 in spring 1970, Bridge over Troubled Water rode the charts for over a year and a half (spending ten weeks at the top), eventually selling over 13 million copies worldwide. The LP yielded four hit singles -- the title song (a #1 hit, the biggest seller of their career), "Cecilia" (#4), "The Boxer" (#7), and "El Condor Pasa" (#18) -- and won six Grammys. In 1977 it was given the British Britannia Award as Best International Pop Album of the past 25 years, and the title song received the equivalent award as a single. To date the duo has sold over 20 million albums in the United States alone.

Since 1970 the Forest Hills classmates have gotten together on a few notable occasions. The first was a benefit concert for presidential candidate George McGovern at Madison Square Garden, New York, in June 1972. (That occasion also saw the reunions of Peter, Paul and Mary and the comedy team of Mike Nichols and Elaine May.) In 1975 Simon and Garfunkel had a Top Ten hit single with "My Little Town," a song Simon wrote for Garfunkel and sang with him, which appeared on solo LPs by both. Garfunkel joined Simon to perform a selection of their old hits on Simonís 1977 television special, and the two got together again the next year in a studio with James Taylor to record a trio rendition of Sam Cookeís "(What a) Wonderful World." On September 19, 1981, Simon and Garfunkel gave a free concert for an estimated 500,000 fans in New Yorkís Central Park, and in 1982, a double album, The Concert in Central Park, went platinum, peaking at #6. They embarked on an extended tour and began recording what was to have been a new Simon and Garfunkel album. Unable to resolve their creative differences, the two abandoned the project, and the material was released on the Paul Simon solo LP Hearts and Bones.

In the years since, the pair has reunited on several occasions. They performed several shows for charitable causes in the early Nineties, and in 1993 a smash 21-date sold-out run at the Paramount Theater in New York City, followed by a tour of the Far East. Though, technically speaking, these shows were not Simon and Garfunkel concerts (they performed together only in the first and last of the showís four segments; the balance was dedicated to Simonís solo work), fans seemed to feel otherwise. Whether for its exquisite craftsmanship or for its place as a musical-cultural touchstone, or both, the music Simon and Garfunkel created and recorded seems destined to endure. The two were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

1964 -- Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (Columbia)
1966 -- Sounds of Silence; Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
1968 -- Bookends; The Graduate soundtrack
1970 -- Bridge over Troubled Water
1972 -- Greatest Hits
1982 -- The Concert in Central Park

 

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