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Simon & Garfunkel

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Simon & Garfunkel

Paul as a rabbit, Art as a cheshire cat; this is how the two met at a school performance of "Alice in Wonderland" in 1953. Paul Simon was born on October 13, 1941, Art Garfunkel just three weeks later, on November 5. Both grew up in Queens and shared their enthusiasm for rock and roll from the start. Their first little hit "Hey Schoolgirl" (1957) was therefore little more than an Everly Brothers imitation and of course the two 16-year-olds also gave themselves stage names: Tom & Jerry.

Her debut album "Wednesday Morning, 3 AM" has the programmatic subtitle "exciting new sounds in the folk tradition", which alludes to influences of the folk movement in New York's Greenwich Village; Paul also spent some time in England, where he lived with folk musicians and recorded a solo album, the "Paul Simon Songbook". It was made in London within an hour and it cost a measly £ 60 to record! Some songs were later recorded again for "Sounds of Silence"; they are among the best of the early S&G pieces: "Homeward Bound", "April Come She Will" or "I am a Rock".

The song "Sounds of Silence" was already on their first record, but it flopped. The big breakthrough didn't come until Christmas 1965. Art was studying architecture and Paul was in England when her producer Tom Wilson was free to provide "Sounds of Silence" with electric guitar and drums. The revamped piece was released as a single and promptly became a # 1 hit. Her second # 1 was "Mrs. Robinson" in 1968. Originally it was supposed to be called "Mrs. Roosevelt", but Mike Nichols wanted it for his film "The Graduate", for which he also used older tracks like "Scarborough Fair" and "April Come She Will". According to the protagonist of the film, the song was then given its final name.

"Mrs. Robinson" was also carried over to the "Bookends" album, widely regarded as the duo's most intense work. In contrast, the last album "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was less homogeneous. In addition to the ballad "The Boxer", there are infusions from the initial rock'n roll phase as well as songs such as "El Condor Pasa" and "Cecilia", which clearly showed Simon's interest in exotic music. During the recording of that album, tensions developed between Art and Paul. Not least because Art was absent for five months to shoot in Mexico with Mike Nichols for the film "Catch 22".

"We no longer functioned as the unit that had distinguished our previous albums and we didn't get along very well," said the interviewee. The fact that Art Garfunkel received the roaring applause for "Bridge Over Troubled Water" at all concerts was hard to bear for Paul, who wrote the hit, and certainly one of the reasons for their much regretted separation.

Simon's next album with the witty title "Paul Simon" turned out to be extremely simple and reserved; it was clear to him that he could no longer top a piece like "Bridge ...". In 1975 the two wrote "My Little Town", each of which was put on a solo album, namely on Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years" and Garfunkels "Breakaway". In 1981 there was another tour together, from which the live recording "The Concert In Central Park" originates.

The great strength of the S&G song repertoire lies in the lyrics and the catchy melodies. The term "catchy" is almost too negatively charged here, because the melodies are simple, but not intended as a concession to the audience, but rather to carry the lyrics according to their content. The filigree simplicity, to which many songs owe their quiet moods, is somewhat impaired in some studio versions by more opulent orchestral arrangements. The two-part vocals and Paul Simon's guitar bring out the quiet moods unbeatably well!

After more than 20 years of silence, interrupted only by extremely rare appearances on special occasions, it became clear in February 2003 that prizes and honors also have concrete benefits for once: On the occasion of the award of the Grammy for their joint life's work, the two start talking to each other again. The friendship survived all financial disputes, said Simon in a press conference that was scheduled at short notice in September.

The result: an almost ten-week concert tour through the USA, which begins on October 18 and leads through 32 cities. The duo will then go on an acclaimed European tour, which will end with a concert in front of 600,000 spectators in the Colosseum in Rome. The two only play old hits like "Mrs. Robinson" or "Bridge Over Troubled Water". We don't have any new ones either, and that is unlikely to change in the future. When asked if they didn't want to go back to the studio, Simon replied in a TV interview that this was unlikely for the same reason they stopped: because they could never surpass "Bridge Over Troubled Water".