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Overview for Simon & Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel


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Popular music was changing fast in 1965, and Simon & Garfunkel did their part to change it. Beginning with that year's hit "The Sounds of Silence," the duo brought subtlety and poetry into the Hot 100, and joined Bob Dylan and The Byrds at the forefront of the folk-rock movement. Singer/songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel were already industry veterans by the time of that first hit. As friends at Forest Hills High School, they formed a rock & roll duo patterned after the Everly Brothers. Taking the name Tom & Jerry, they saw minor chart success in 1957 with "Hey Schoolgirl" but couldn't manage a follow-up. Simon made a few more unsuccessful attempts to write commercial rock songs and in 1963 they made another try as a folk duo, with "Sounds of Silence" part of their repertoire. That song helped get them signed to Columbia Records, where they made the debut album Wednesday Morning, 3AM. It flopped and the duo split up, with Simon moving to England and continuing to write songs. Fate took its course when producer Tom Wilson, who'd overseen Dylan's folk-rock transition, took the album version of "Sounds of Silence," overdubbed an electric band, and released that as a single. Arguably the first hit remix in history, the single took off and prompted Simon's return. The duo quickly cut an album, mainly using songs Simon wrote in England, two of which ("Homeward Bound" and "I Am a Rock") were also hits. For the next single, Simon reworked "Scarborough Fair," a song he'd learned in England from folksinger Martin Carthy. This too became a beloved hit and in 1967, a reluctant Simon was convinced to write songs for a movie, Mike Nichols' "The Graduate." "Mrs. Robinson" helped make that an iconic late-'60s film though ironically, the full song never appears in the movie. The final two albums were Simon & Garfunkel's most ambitious. Side one of Bookends (1968) was a continuous suite, tracing the life cycle from rebellious youth to old age. Between albums came "The Boxer," about a young man's painful coming of age in New York, which defied radio norms for its length (five minutes) and lyrics (it was the first hit to include the word "whores"). The next single, "Bridge Over Troubled Water," was a full production with orchestration and a memorable Garfunkel lead. Arguably Simon's most popular song, it was the title track of the next album which yielded two more hits, "El Condor Pasa" and the unusually lighthearted "Cecelia." Released in 1970, it was the best-selling album of the next three years. But the duo was growing apart and spit soon after, with Simon starting his solo career and Garfunkel Moving into an acting career that paralleled his own solo records. Reuniting briefly in 1975, they recorded "My Little Town," a hit single that appeared on both partners' solo albums that year. Finally in 1981 they did a high-profile reunion tour and began work on a new studio album, Think Too Much. But the partnership broke down (again) during the sessions, Garfunkel's vocal parts were erased and it became a solo Simon album, Hearts & Bones. There were sporadic reunions since then, including a 2003 tour that included the last appearances of their guests the Everly Brothers. Simon & Garfunkel last played together at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2010; though both partners remained active, Simon said in 2016 that their partnership was over for good.

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