Simon & Garfunkel Overview

Simon & Garfunkel is an American singer-songwriter duo consisting of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. They formed the group Tom & Jerry in 1957, and had their first taste of success with the minor hit "Hey, Schoolgirl". As Simon & Garfunkel, the duo rose to fame in 1965, backed by the hit single "The Sounds of Silence". Their music was featured in the landmark film The Graduate, propelling them further into the public consciousness.

They are well known for their close vocal harmonies and sometimes unstable relationship. Their last album, Bridge over Troubled Water, was delayed several times due to artistic disagreements. They were among the most po***r recording artists of the 1960s; among their biggest hits, in addition to "The Sounds of Silence", were "I Am a Rock", "Homeward Bound Homeward Bound (song) ", "A Hazy Shade of Winter", "Mrs. Robinson", "Bridge over Troubled Water Bridge over Troubled Water (song) ", "The Boxer", "Cecilia Cecilia (song) ", and "Scarborough Fair/Canticle". They have received several Grammys Grammy Award and are inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame (2007).
They have reunited on several occasions since their 1970 breakup, most famously for 1981's The Concert in Central Park, which attracted about 500,000 people.


 
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Early history

Close friends through childhood, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, New York, just blocks away from each other. They met in elementary school in 1953, when they both appeared in the school play Alice in Wonderland (Simon as the White Rabbit, Garfunkel as the Cheshire Cat). They were classmates at Parsons Junior High School and Forest Hills High School, and began performing together in their junior year as Tom and Jerry, with Simon as Jerry Landis (whose last name he borrowed from a girl he had been dating) and Garfunkel as Tom Graph (so called because he was fond of tracking ("graphing") hits on the pop charts). They began writing their own songs in 1955, and made their first professional recording, "Hey, Schoolgirl", for Sid Prosen of Big Records in 1957. Released on 45 rpm Gramophone record and 78 rpm vinyl records Vinyl recording , with the flip-side song "Dancin' Wild", the recording sold 100,000 copies, hitting #49 on the Billboard Magazine charts. Both Simon and Garfunkel have acknowledged the tremendous impact of The Everly Brothers on their style, and many of their early songs (including "Hey, Schoolgirl") bear the mark of this influence.

They later performed their hit on American Bandstand, right after Jerry Lee Lewis's "Great Balls of Fire".

Subsequent efforts in 1958 did not reach near their initial success, and after high school the duo went to separate colleges, with Simon enrolling at Queens College Queens College, New York and Garfunkel at Columbia University. While enrolled in college, they both joined their campus chapters of the Jewish fraternity College fraternity , Alpha Epsilon Pi.

In 1963, they found prominence as part of the Greenwich Village folk music scene. Simon, who had finished college but dropped out of Brooklyn Law School, had—like Garfunkel—developed an interest in the folk scene. Simon showed Garfunkel a few songs that he had written in the folk style: "Sparrow", "Bleecker Street", and "He Was My Brother"—which was later dedicated to Andrew Goodman, a friend of both Simon and Garfunkel and a classmate of Simon's at Queens College, who was one of three civil rights workers murdered Mississippi civil rights workers murders in Neshoba County, Mississippi, on June 21, 1964.

These three efforts were among five original songs by Simon included on their first album for Columbia Records, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which initially flopped upon its release on October 19, 1964.


First breakup

Shortly after finishing recording, the duo split and Simon moved to the United Kingdom, where he performed at Les Cousins Les Cousins (music club) and The Troubadour The Troubadour (London) in London and toured provincial folk clubs. While in England, he recorded his solo The Paul Simon Songbook in 1965. Recorded on three different dates in June and July at Levy's Studio, London, the album was released as an LP but then deleted about 1979 at Simon's request, and re-released on CD with bonus tracks in 2004. During this period in London he also collaborated on a number of songs with Bruce Woodley of The Seekers, including "I Wish You Could Be Here", "Cloudy", and "Red Rubber Ball", which would be a U.S. #1 hit for The Cyrkle in 1966.

While Simon was in England that summer of 1965, radio stations around Cocoa Beach Cocoa Beach, Florida and Gainesville, Florida, began to receive requests for a song from the album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. called "The Sound of Silence". The song also began to receive radio airplay in Boston Boston, Massachusetts . Seizing the chance, the duo's U.S. producer, Tom Wilson Tom Wilson (producer) , inspired by The Byrds' hugely po***r electric versions of Bob Dylan songs, used Dylan's studio band (who had collaborated with him on his landmark hit Like a Rolling Stone that year) to dub electric guitars, bass and drums onto the original "Sound of Silence" track, and released it as a single, backed with, "We've Got a Groovy Thing Goin'". The dubbing turned folk into folk rock, the debut of a new genre for the Top 40, much to Simon's surprise. (A few months earlier the briefly reunited duo had recorded a couple of songs, including "Groovy Thing", which experimented with a more contemporary sound, but the sessions were not later.)

In September 1965, Simon first learned that it had entered the pop charts while he was about to go on stage in a Danish Denmark folk club. The song hit #1 on the pop charts by New Year's Day, 1966.


Reformation and success

", from 1966.
Simon immediately returned to the United States and the duo re-formed for the second time to record more tracks in a similar style, though neither approved of what Wilson had done with The Sounds of Silence. The result was a sequence of folk rock records which have endured as well as any in the genre. On January 17, 1966, the duo released the album Sounds of Silence Sounds of Silence (album) , which—helped by the title track's success—hit #21, while Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. was re-released and reached #30. Among the tracks on The Paul Simon Songbook that were rerecorded (some with electric backing) for Sounds of Silence were "I Am a Rock" (which as a single reached U.S. #3 in the summer of 1966), "Leaves That Are Green", "April Come She Will", "A Most Peculiar Man", and "Kathy's Song Kathy Chitty ".

Further hit singles came, including "Scarborough Fair/Canticle", based on a traditional English ballad with an arrangement by Martin Carthy, and "Homeward Bound Homeward Bound (song) " (later U.S. #5), about life on the road while Simon was touring in England in 1965. The song is reputed to have been written when Simon was stranded overnight on a platform at Widnes Central Ditton railway station railway station after mis-reading the timetable. A plaque commemorates this event at the station.

More tracks from The Paul Simon Songbook were included with recent compositions on their October 10, 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, which refined the folk rock sound hastily released on Sound of Silence. "Cloudy", co-written earlier with Bruce Woodley, was included on Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. However, a Woodley credit was incorrectly omitted. The following year, Woodley's band The Seekers recorded it for their studio album Seen in Green, on which Simon received a credit.

In early 1967, Pickwick Records, which had a reputation as a low-quality label, decided that it would capitalize on the duo's newfound fame by releasing an album entitled The Hit Sound of Simon & Garfunkel. This album consisted of ten tracks recorded from the late 1950s and early 1960s while the duo still called themselves Tom & Jerry, including their hit "Hey, Schoolgirl", and its B-side, "Dancin' Wild". Simon and Garfunkel then sued Pickwick because the company was presenting the music as recently-recorded material, not as songs written and released over five years earlier. Soon afterwards, Pickwick withdrew The Hit Sound of Simon & Garfunkel from the market. On June 16, 1967, the duo performed at the Monterey Pop Festival.

That same year, Simon and Garfunkel contributed heavily to the soundtrack The Graduate Original Soundtrack to Mike Nichols' film The Graduate, which was released on January 21, 1967, and instantly rose to #1 as an album. According to a Variety Variety (magazine) article by Peter Bart in the May 15, 2005 issue, Nichols had become obsessed with Simon and Garfunkel's music while shooting the film. Larry Turman, his producer, made a deal for Simon to write three new songs for the movie. By the time they were nearly finished editing the film, Simon had only written one new song. Nichols begged him for more but Simon, who was touring constantly, told him he didn't have the time. He did play him a few notes of a new song he had been working on; "It's not for the movie... it's a song about times past—about Mrs. Roosevelt Eleanor Roosevelt and Joe DiMaggio and stuff." Nichols advised Simon, "It's now about Mrs. Robinson, not Mrs. Roosevelt."

As their albums became progressively more adventurous, The Graduate Original Soundtrack The Graduate (soundtrack) was immediately followed in March 1968 at the top of the charts by Bookends, which dealt with increasingly complex themes of old age and loss. It features the top 25 hit singles "A Hazy Shade of Winter", "Fakin' It", "At the Zoo", "America America (Paul Simon song) " and a full version of "Mrs. Robinson", the classic #1 single from The Graduate soundtrack. Simon and Garfunkel returned to England in the Fall of 1968 and did a concert appearance at Kraft Hall which was broadcast on the BBC, and also featured Paul's brother Ed sitting in on a performance of the instrumental "Anji".
At the March 1969 Grammy Awards, "Mrs. Robinson" was named Record of the Year, while Simon was also honored with the Grammy for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media .


Second breakup

By 1969, the duo's success began to take its toll. Garfunkel had begun to pursue a career in acting and was featured in the role of Nately in Nichols's film adaptation of the novel Catch-22 Catch-22 (film) . Garfunkel's filming leave conflicted with and subsequently delayed the recording of the duo's next album. The part in the film which had initially been promised to Simon was completely cut from the script.

The duo's deteriorating personal relationship continued into their late 1969 tour, which featured performances at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio on November 11 and Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois on November 8, recordings of which are supposedly widely bootlegged. Video footage of the tour was shown on their controversial November 30 television special Songs of America, which TV sponsors refused to endorse because of its distinct anti-Vietnam War message.

The recording of what would be their final album, Bridge over Troubled Water, was not without tension. The LP was originally supposed to feature twelve tracks, but the duo could not agree on the twelfth track: Simon refused to record a Bach Johann Sebastian Bach chorale track favored by Garfunkel, while Garfunkel refused to record a song Simon had written called "Cuba Si, Nixon No". No middle ground was reached, so the album was released with only eleven songs.In 1997, John Hiatt's track "Sure Pinocchio" on the album "Little Head" included the lyrics: "You put me in a box/With God and his uncle/Like a pair of gym socks/Lookin like Artie Garfunkel."

In 1999, the asteroid 91287 Simon-Garfunkel was named in their honor.

In the late 1960s, the comedy television show, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, had a running skit featuring members of the "Farkel" Family, including Fred & Fanny Farkel, "and the twins, Simon and Gar Farkel."

In 1971, Israeli group The Parvarim recorded an album of Hebrew cover versions of Simon and Garfunkel songs. The translations were mostly accurate, but for "Scarborough Fair", the Hebrew words for "parsley", "sage Common sage ", etc. did not fit into the music, so the spices were changed to "cinnamon, jasmine and myrrh".

In 1993, Austrian electronic music duo Kruder & Dorfmeister modeled the cover of their first album, G-Stoned, after the cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Bookends Bookends (album) album, using similar black-and-white photo, pose, and typography.

In an episode of sit-com Friends, the character Phoebe Buffay was helping character Joey Tribbiani make a decision by asking him a series of question, and he has to answer as fast as possible. One of the questions was "Who would you rather be, Simon or Garfunkel?" to which Joey replies "Garfunkel".

The episode "Bendin' in the Wind" of Futurama, in a double send-up of Simon and Garfunkel and Battlestar Galactica, features the singing duo "Cylon Cylon (Battlestar Galactica) and Garfunkel" performing a rendition of "Scarborough Fair" in which the robot Cylon's singing is entirely monotone, and Garfunkel – who explains during the performance that he is the descendant of Art – states that he will give Bender the check "over my dead career!".

The end of the "Lady Bouvier's Lover" episode of The Simpsons contains one of the series' many homages to The Graduate, and features a parody of "The Sounds of Silence" over the closing credits. ("Hello grandpa my old friend/your busy day is at an end/your words are always sad and boring/ they tell a tale that's worth ignoring".) In another episode, Mr. Burns spins around a lamp post singing, "Hello lamp post. What ya knowin'? I've come to watch your power flowin'."

The Rush Rush (band) song "The Spirit of Radio" references "The Sounds of Silence", turning "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls...and whispered in the sounds of silence" into the ironic "The words of the profits are written on the studio walls, concert halls... and echoes with the sounds of salesmen."

In the 2000 film Almost Famous, Zooey Deschanel's character (Anita Miller) and her mother (Elaine Miller), played by Frances McDormand, argue about the Bookends album. Later, Anita gives the song "America" as her reason for leaving home to become a stewardess.

In an episode of Saturday Night Live's "Celebrity Jeopardy Celebrity Jeopardy! (Saturday Night Live) " parody, there was a category entitled "Members of Simon and Garfunkel". The clue read, "Of Simon and Garfunkel, the one who is not Garfunkel." Once the Sean Connery character rang in, he asked for the question to be repeated. Once it was read again, he said in response, "I Garfunkeled your mother!" This was one of the running gags of the parody.

In the 2005 film Rumor Has It, Jennifer Aniston's character realizes that her family are the true Robinsons from The Graduate. Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson", from The Graduate's soundtrack, plays as she first realizes this.

In the original cover photo for the album Wednesday Morning 3 A.M., which was shot in the New York City Subway, it was noticed that "***" was barely visible scrawled on the wall behind them. Columbia Records objected to the photo, which was replaced with another. This event was the inspiration behind the track "A Poem on the Underground Wall" from Parsley, Sage Rosemary & Thyme. Garfunkel related the story on the album Live From New York.

In the 2009 film Watchmen, the song "The Sound of Silence" is played during The Comedian's burial scene.

Elvis Presley recorded a cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in Nashville's Studio B in 1970, and regularly performed the song in his live concerts. It was also prominently showcased in his two concert movies, Elvis: That's The Way It Is (1970) and Elvis On Tour (1972).

Japanese-American singer-songwriter Hikaru Utada mentions Simon & Garfunkel in the lyrics of her song "This One (Crying Like A Child) This Is The One (album) ". She sings, "We should get back on the road, like Simon & Garfunkel..."

In a recent SNL Saturday Night Live skit, Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis pose as Bon Jovi opposite band, Jon Bovi, but when accused of sounding exactly like Bon Jovi, they say, "Well, if you didn't like that, you're going to love our new opposite Folk Rock band, Gimon & Sarfunkel."

In the movie Old School the song "Sound of Silence" starts to play as Will Ferrell's character Frank 'the Tank' falls into the pool.

In the movie Bobby (2006 film), directed by Emilio Estevez, the song "Sound of Silence" plays after Robert F. Kennedy is shot.

In an episode of 'Flight of the Conchords', the lead characters form a Simon and Garfunkel tribute band performing the single, 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme'. Garfunkel himself later appears in the episode.

On an episode of 'How I Met Your Mother', Marshall commissions a Venn diagram in which one section represents the 'people who are breaking his heart' while the other represents 'people who are shaking his confidence daily'. The section where the two overlap is Cecilia.

In the PlayStation 2 video game Final Fantasy X-2 one of the side missions requires the player to pair up monkey-like creatures whose names refer to the song "Scarborough Fair". Parsley is paired up with Sage, and Rosemary is paired up with Thyme.

The Korean band, SG Wannabe, attributes its name from the duo.

English neofolk band Current 93 used part of "The Sound of Silence" lyrics in the song "St. Peters Keys All Bloody" from the album Dogs Blood Rising.

The Canadian group Jordaan Mason and The Horse Museum reference the song "Cecilia" on their 2009 album Divorce Lawyers I Shaved My Head in the song "Wild Dogs: Divorce!"

Two Simon and Garfunkel songs, The Sound of Silence and I am a Rock are available in the video game series Rock Band as Downloadable Content as of December 8th.

The Bluecoats 2008 show, "The Knockout" featured a reference to the Simon and Garfunkel song, "The Boxer". The Bluecoats brass feature has an almost identical chordal structure, ending with the majority of the band forming a chorus, singing the lines, "I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains".

In the episode "Our Dear Leaders" of "Scrubs Scrubs (TV series) " Lucy Bennett refers to herself as "Garfunkel" being the second-in-command of her study group and mistakenly asks Drew Suffin to be her Micky Dolenz.* 1964: Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.
* 1966: Sounds of Silence Sounds of Silence (album)
* 1966: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
* 1968: Bookends
* 1970: Bridge over Troubled Water
* 1982: The Concert in Central Park


Singles with Billboard Hot 100 positions

*"The Sounds of Silence The Sounds of Silence (song) " (#1) / "We've Got a Groovey Thing Goin'" -- Columbia 43396—11/65
::An extremely rare red vinyl promotional copy of "The Sounds of Silence" features the acoustic version on the A-side and the "electric" hit version on the B-side
*"Homeward Bound Homeward Bound (song) " (#5) / "Leaves That Are Green" -- Columbia 43511—2/66
*"I Am a Rock" (#3)/ "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall" -- Columbia 43617—5/66
*"The Dangling Conversation" (#25)/"The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine"—Columbia 43728—7/66
::The above three singles were also issued on red vinyl promotional copies with the A-side on both sides
*"A Hazy Shade of Winter" (#13) / "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" -- Columbia 43873—11/66
*"At the Zoo" (#16) / "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" -- Columbia 44046—3/67
*"Fakin' It Fakin' It (song) " (#23) / "You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies" -- Columbia 44232—7/67
::All pressings intentionally show the A-side playing time as 2:74 to boost radio airplay for stations that did not play songs over 3 minutes long. The B-side is a non-LP track
*"Scarborough Fair/Canticle" (#11) / "April Come She Will" -- Columbia 44465—3/68
::This was a re-release of two songs from earlier LPs due to their inclusion on The Graduate Original Soundtrack.
*"Mrs. Robinson Mrs Robinson (song) " (#1) / "Old Friends" / "Bookends" -- Columbia 44511—4/68
::Original pressings show both sides (B-side erroneously) as from the film The Graduate. Later pressings correctly show both sides as from the "Bookends" album.
*"The Boxer" (#7) / "Baby Driver" (#101) -- Columbia 44785—4/69
*"Bridge over Troubled Water Bridge over Troubled Water (song) " (#1) / "Keep the Customer Satisfied" -- Columbia 45079—2/70
*"Cecilia Cecilia (song) " (#4) / "The Only Living Boy in New York" -- Columbia 45133—4/70
*"El Cóndor Pasa El Cóndor Pasa (song) " (#10) / "Why Don't You Write Me"-- Columbia 45237—9/70
*"For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" (live version) (#53) / "America America (Paul Simon song) " (#97) -- Columbia 45663—9/72
*"My Little Town" (#9) / "Rag Doll (Art Garfunkel)" / "You're Kind" (Paul Simon) -- Columbia 10230—10/75
*"Wake Up Little Susie" (#27) / "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" -- Warner 50053—4/82
::Both tracks taken from the Central Park concert on September 19, 1981* Grammy Awards 1968 - Record of the Year (for "Mrs. Robinson")
* Grammy Awards 1968 - Best Contemporary Pop Performance - Vocal Duo or Group (for "Mrs. Robinson")
* Grammy Awards 1970 - Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, best Contemporary Song, Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), Best Engineered Recording, best Contemporary Vocal Group (for "Bridge over Troubled Water Bridge over Troubled Water (song) ")
* BRIT Awards 1977 - Best International Album (of the past 25 years) (for Bridge over Troubled Water")
* Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1990 - Inductee
* Grammy Awards 2003 - Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
 

 

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