This highly successful folk rock duo first played together during their early years in New York. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were initially inspired by The Everly Brothers and under the name Tom And Jerry enjoyed a US Top 50 hit in 1957 with the rock 'n' roll styled 'Hey Schoolgirl'. They also completed an album which was later reissued after their rise to international prominence in the 60s. Garfunkel completed two solo singles as Artie Garr before returning to college. Simon pursued a solo career before the duo reunited in 1964 for Wednesday Morning, 3AM. A strong, harmonic work, which included an acoustic reading of 'The Sound Of Silence', the album did not sell well enough to encourage the duo to stay together.
While Simon was in England the folk rock boom was in the ascendant and producer Tom Wilson made the presumptuous but prescient decision to overdub 'The Sound Of Silence' with electric instrumentation. Within weeks, the song (retitled 'The Sounds Of Silence') was number 1 in the US charts, and Simon and Garfunkel were hastily reunited. An album titled after their million-selling single was rush-released early in 1966 and proved a commendable work. Among its major achievements was 'Homeward Bound', an evocative and moving portrayal of life on the road, which went on to become a transatlantic hit. The solipsistic 'I Am A Rock' was another international success with such angst-ridden lines as, 'I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain'. In keeping with the social commentary that permeated their mid-60s' work, the duo included two songs whose theme was suicide: 'A Most Peculiar Man' and 'Richard Cory'.
Embraced by a vast following, especially among the student population, Simon And Garfunkel certainly looked the part with their college scarves, duffel coats and cerebral demeanour. Their next single, 'The Dangling Conversation', was their most ambitious lyric to date and far too esoteric for the Top 20. Nevertheless, the work testified to their artistic courage and boded well for the release of a second album within a year: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme. The album took its title from a repeated line in 'Scarborough Fair', which was their excellent harmonic weaving of that traditional song and another, 'Canticle'. An accomplished work, the album had a varied mood from the grandly serious 'For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her' to the bouncy 'The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)' (subsequently a hit for Harpers Bizarre).
After two strong but uncommercial singles, 'At The Zoo' and 'Fakin' It', the duo contributed to the soundtrack of the 1968 movie, The Graduate. The key song was 'Mrs. Robinson' which provided the duo with one of their biggest international sellers. That same year saw the release of Bookends, a superbly-crafted work, ranging from the serene 'Save The Life Of My Child' to the personal Odyssey 'America' and the vivid imagery of 'Old Friends'. Bookends is still felt by many to be their finest work.
In 1969 the duo released 'The Boxer', a long, wordy track that nevertheless found commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic. This classic single reappeared on their next album, the celebrated Bridge Over Troubled Water. One of the bestselling albums of all time (303 weeks on the UK chart), the work's title track became a standard with Garfunkel's angelic vocal set perfectly matched to the lush, orchestral arrangement and contrasting tempo. Heavily gospel-influenced, the album included several well-covered songs such as 'Keep The Customer Satisfied', 'Cecilia' and 'El Condor Pasa'. While at the peak of their commercial success, with an album that dominated the top of the chart listings for months, the duo became irascible and their partnership abruptly ceased.
The release of a Greatest Hits package in 1972 included four previously unissued live tracks and during the same year the duo performed together at a benefit concert for Senator George McGovern. A further reunion occurred on the hit single 'My Little Town' in 1975. Six years later they performed in front of half a million fans at New York's Central Park (the results were captured on The Concert In Central Park). Although another studio album was undertaken, the sessions broke down and Simon transferred the planned material to his 1983 solo Hearts And Bones. In the autumn of 1993, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel settled their differences long enough to complete 21 sell-out dates in New York and have continued to tour as a duo since.
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