Whether performing folk-rock melodies with Paul Simon or delivering romantic ballads as a solo artist, Art Garfunkel has left a lasting impression with his finespun yet powerful voice. Described by Tony Schwartz in Newsweek as “an effortlessly lyrical voice that is as smooth and unfettered as any in pop music,” Garfunkel’s choirboy tenor lent a sparkling incandescence to the often dark and introspective compositions of partner Simon, when the duo recorded a string of hits as Simon & Garfunkel between 1964 and 1970.
Splitting to pursue separate interests in 1971, the two have forged successful solo careers, capitalizing on their individual strengths. Simon, the songwriter of the pair, has had continued success with his poetic, finelycrafted songs, experimenting with calypso, reggae, and gospel. Garfunkel has enjoyed success as a motion picture actor and as a singer of romantic standards. In an interview with Ron Givens for Stereo Review Garfunkel stated, “[I] attempt to do songs that have moved me as beautifully and interestingly as I can.”
Growing up in the middle-class neighborhood of Forest Hills, New York, Garfunkel met classmate Simon in the sixth grade while preparing for their school’s graduation play, “Alice in Wonderland.” Garfunkel was the Cheshire Cat; Simon the White Rabbit. After rehearsals the two walked home together, discussing their mutual interests—sports and music. Fans of such fifties rock and roll performers as Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and the Comets, and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the pair listened to the radio for hours, dabbled in composition, and practiced singing together, accompanied by Simon’s acoustic guitar. Performing at school functions and parties, the pair cut a demonstration record that caught the attention of a Big Records executive, who offered them a contract and renamed them Tom & Jerry.
Singing simple teenage rock and roll tunes, the duo had their first hit single, “Hey! Schoolgirl,” when they were just fifteen. Two years later, however, Big Records folded, and the duo went their respective ways, attending separate colleges after high school graduation. Garfunkel attended Columbia University, studying architecture and mathematics. There he crossed paths with Simon once more, who was studying at nearby Queens College. While neither seriously considered a professional musical career they began to perform together again, this time singing Simon’s poetic folk pieces instead of their jointly-created rock and roll. The two attracted an enthusiastic local following and were offered a contract by Columbia Records.
Simon & Garfunkel’s first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m., appeared in 1964. Released during the throes
Born November 5,1941, in Forest Hills, Queens, N.Y.; father in garment packaging business; married Linda Marie Grossman (an architect),1972 (divorced). Education: Columbia University, B.A., 1965, M.A., 1967.
Singer and songwriter,1955—. Performed with Paul Simon as Tom & Jerry, 1957-59, and as Simon & Garfunkel, 1964-71; solo performer,1971—. Actor in motion pictures, including Catch 22, 1970, Carnal Knowledge, 1971, and Bad Timing … A Sensual Obsession, 1980.
Awards: Recipient, with Simon, of two Grammy Awards in 1969 for record of the year, for “Mrs. Robinson,” and for best performance by a pop vocal group; six Grammies, with Simon, in 1970, including for best album, for Bridge Over Troubled Waters, best single record, for “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” best song of the year, for “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” and for best performance by a pop vocal group.
Addresses: Record company —c/o Columbia/CBS Records, 51 West 52nd St., New York, NY 10019.
of Beatlemania, the album was largely ignored, although one of its songs, “The Sounds of Silence,” was moderately popular. Late the following year, unbeknownst to the pair according to some accounts, Columbia overdubbed drums and bass guitar and rereleased “The Sounds of Silence” as a single. This new version sold more than one million copies and became the title track for the pair’s next LP, which went gold. Subsequent Simon & Garfunkel albums also proved top sellers, introducing such folk-rock classics as “I Am a Rock,” “Homeward Bound,” and “Scarborough Fair.”
While Garfunkel arranged the occasional piece, Simon did the lion’s share of the songwriting, and was paid commensurately from their recording and performing revenues; Garfunkel once explained that he didn’t write songs “because Paul was so good… [and] it seemed foolish to go for equal time.” Still, Garfunkel was often credited for much of the duo’s success: it was his clear tenor voice that frequently soared above the pair’s seamless harmonic blend; it was Garfunkel’s easy manner and boyish looks (his bushy blond hair was described as “a huge dandelion gone to seed” by one writer) that provided an appealing counterpoint to the dark, serious man that was Simon.
In 1968 Simon & Garfunkel provided original music for the hit motion picture The Graduate; “Mrs. Robinson,” the film’s theme song, earned a Grammy Award as record of the year. Nineteen seventy brought more Grammies for the duo, their album Bridge Over Troubled Waters becoming one of the top-selling LPs of all time, at nine million copies. The album’s title song, featuring an inspirational Garfunkel solo, flooded the nation’s airwaves. Yet ironically, while the two performers were at the height of their popularity—celebrating brotherhood in their hit song—their personal differences became so great that they abandoned their partnership.
Key to the split was Garfunkel’s burgeoning acting career; the singer told Stephen Holden in a 1982 interview in Rolling Stone that “I think when I went off to make Catch-22, Paul was left feeling out of it and uncomfortably dependent. Looking back, I know, too, that I felt envious of Paul’s writing and playing.” While the pair did attempt to work together from time to time, it was not until 1982 that they laid old conflicts to rest, reuniting for an open-air concert in New York’s Central Park, a television special, a double album, and an international tour—thrilling longtime fans.
Garfunkel made his acting debut as Captain Nately in Mike Nichols’s 1970 film adaptation of the bestselling Joseph Heller novel Catch 22. The actor’s efforts were well received by critics; Gary Arnold wrote in the Washington Post, for instance, “[Garfunkel] embodies a kind of youthful sweetness and idealism that the material desperately needs in the face of so many manic and inhuman characters.” Garfunkel gave notable performances in Nichols’s “Carnal Knowledge” and Nicholas Roeg’s “Bad Timing” as well; nonetheless, in his interview with Holden, Garfunkel admitted that his acting career had fallen short of his expectations.
As a solo vocalist the performer has enjoyed greater success: his first album, Angel Clare, was a top seller and his second LP, Breakaway, went platinum. Reviewing the first release, Loraine Alterman wrote in the New York Times, “Not only does Garfunkel emerge as the excellent singer we all knew him to be but he also reveals himself as a romantic not afraid to luxuriate in lush sounds.” Singing the soft-edged works of popular composers like Van Morrison, Randy Newman, and— especially—Jimmy Webb, Garfunkel has also recorded a number of ballad favorites: his rendition of “I Only Have Eyes for You” climbed the charts in 1975.
In his interview with Schwartz, Garfunkel revealed that his simple, sentimental stylings are far more thoughtful and complicated than they first appear: “I work a lot on the crafting… emptiness vs. busyness, peaks followed by valleys, tension and then resolve,” he related.”I respond more to notes than to lyrics…. What I get caught up in is texture and sonority—the sound perse.” Discussing his romantic inclinations, Garfunkel continued: “What that really means is that my leaning is more legato than percussive. I happen to like smooth, connected notes more than choppy, staccato ones. I find some songs too gritty, too sophisticated. My style is to sing bloody, from the heart.”
Simon & Garfunkel LPs
Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m., Columbia, 1964.
The Sounds of Silence, Columbia, 1966.
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary &Thyme, Columbia, 1966.
Bookends, Columbia, 1968.
The Graduate (soundtrack), Columbia, 1968.
Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Columbia, 1970.
Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits, Columbia, 1972.
Concert in Central Park, Warner Bros., 1981.
Angel Clare, Columbia, 1973.
Breakaway, Columbia, 1975.
Watermark, Columbia, 1977.
Fate for Breakfast (Doubt for Dessert), Columbia,1979.
Scissors Cut, Columbia, 1981.
Lefty, Columbia, 1988.
Garfunkel (greatest hits), Columbia, 1989.
(With Amy Grant)The Animals’ Christmas, Columbia, 1986.
Simon, George T., and others, The Best of the Music Makers, Doubleday, 1979.
Stambler, Irwin, Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock, and Soul, revised edition, St. Martin’s, 1989.
High Fidelity, May 1982.
Newsweek, October 8, 1973; April 3, 1978.
New York, June 29, 1970.
New York Post, May 26, 1973.
New York Sunday News, March 26, 1967.
New York Times, September 9, 1973.
New York Times Magazine, October 13, 1968.
Rolling Stone, August 3, 1972; October 30, 1980; March 18, 1982.
Seventeen, May 1968.
Stereo Review, April 1988.
Washington Post, June 25, 1970.
Born: Newark, New Jersey, 13 October 1941
Best-selling album since 1990: The Rhythm of the Saints (1990)
Often remembered as the creative half of the singing duo Simon and Garfunkel, singer/songwriter Paul Simon is one of the most accomplished pop songwriters in American music history. Whether playful or poignant, Simon's songs are driven by agile, often sophisticated lyrics and engaging melodies. He has recovered from commercial and creative slumps by making incisive changes in his musical handiwork to remain at the forefront of the industry since the 1960s.
Priming Rhymin' Simon
Simon grew up in the Forest Hills section of Queens, New York, under the erudite auspices of a mother who was a schoolteacher and a college professor father with a doctorate in semantics. Louis Simon was also a jazz bassist and exposed a preteen Simon to the world of jazz; however, like many teenagers growing up in the 1950s, Simon soon became enthralled with the sound of rock and roll. In 1955 Simon and a boyhood friend from the neighborhood, Art Garfunkel, formed a singing duo called Tom and Jerry with Simon singing and playing guitar and Garfunkel accompanying vocally. The conservative political backdrop of the 1950s fueled the boys' idea to call the twosome Tom and Jerry, avoiding any possible stereotyping for their Jewish names. They broke up when Garfunkel went away to college but recorded several singles together, including "Hey, Schoolgirl." Meanwhile, Simon went on to perform solo under the name Jerry Landis and scored some limited radio play with "Lone Teen Ranger."
Simon and Garfunkel re-formed in the early 1960s, this time under their own names, and recorded an album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (1964). The album fared poorly, the duo broke up, and Simon moved to England to work solo in the growing folk scene there. Back in the United States, however, a song from Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., "Sound of Silence," had been remixed and released as a single. It gained tremendous popularity, eventually reaching number one on the charts. Simon and Garfunkel quickly regrouped and recorded their next album, Sounds of Silence (1966), which included their surprise hit in addition to Simon's folk anthem, "I Am a Rock." Simon and Garfunkel recorded three more albums of Simon's songs until creative differences forced them apart in 1971 shortly after the release of Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970).
Going solo after such success with Garfunkel was perilous territory for Simon. Along with the two previously mentioned songs, their partnership had spawned radio classics including "Homeward Bound," "The Boxer," "The 59th Street Bridge Song," "Mrs. Robinson," and "Scarborough Fair/Canticle"—all written by Simon. The duo won five Grammy Awards, and their work was later acknowledged with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2003 Grammy Awards. Nevertheless, Simon's first solo album after the breakup, Paul Simon (1972), went platinum and started a string of successful releases and major hits throughout the 1970s.
Some of Simon's best-known hits include "Kodachrome," "Slip Slidin' Away," "Still Crazy After All These Years," "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," and "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" and earned him the tag "Rhymin' Simon." Along the way, he reunited with Garfunkel for special projects and appearances, most notably a concert in New York's Central Park that was released as an album. Afterward they agreed to re-form and cut a studio album but ended up disagreeing about Simon's material so it was scrapped. Most of those songs went into Simon's Hearts and Bones (1983), a spectacular album that inexplicably sold poorly. Simon had been experiencing a decline in sales since his ambitious One-Trick Pony (1980), which was a soundtrack to an autobiographical film that he scripted and starred in as an actor.
Exploring the World's Musical Terrain
Although no contemporary folk/pop artist in the post–Bob Dylan era was more successful at blending poetic lyrics with catchy music to produce hits, Simon still yearned for something creatively different. In addition, he felt a change in the musical atmosphere, a greater interest in ethnic, world music. Simon traveled to South Africa and soaked up varieties of the country's rhythmic music by working with many tribal musicians. Simon placed his lyrically powered songs within this framework to produce one of the greatest triumphs in contemporary music history, Graceland (1986). The album sold more than 10 million copies within two years, and critics across the board hailed it for its musical richness. Graceland earned Simon a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1987. However, the album also brought criticism from political groups who accused Simon of carpetbagging in the struggling third world milieu and for using their music to tell his stories. Nevertheless, Simon employed a similar strategy with his next album, The Rhythm of the Saints (1990). This time he traveled to Brazil, worked with local musicians there, and produced an album of his songs that again focused on ethnic rhythms and sounds. Although interest generated by The Rhythm of the Saints paled in comparison to Graceland, it still managed to sell 4 million copies and was a major success under any other definition of success.
In late summer of 1991, Simon, a resident of Manhattan's Upper West Side, performed (as he did with Garfunkel ten years previous) in a concert just a few blocks from his home in Central Park. The free event was attended by 750,000 people who peacefully watched Simon do selections from his deep catalog of hits. The concert was released later that year as Paul Simon's Concert in the Park (1991). Although Garfunkel was conspicuously absent from the Central Park concert, Simon teamed up with him in 1993 to perform at a variety of benefits and promote a three-CD box set retrospective of their music.
In another creative adventure, Simon began writing songs for a Broadway show concept that eventually materialized when the musical play The Capeman (1997) opened in New York at the Marquis Theatre in 1997. The play, based on a double homicide in Manhattan's Hells Kitchen district in 1959, opened up old wounds for relatives of the victims—many of whom reside within blocks of the Broadway theater district—as Simon's play cast the perpetrator in a sympathetic light. The show's songs were somewhat well received, as were the musical performances of the two leading men, Marc Anthony and Ruben Blades. However, The Capeman was marred by a poorly conceived story, terrible dialogue, and clumsy staging as Simon insisted that there be little movement or anything else to distract from his music. Only a swell of interest generated by the production's skewed view of history kept it running for as long as it did—sixty-eight performances—and it now lies in the record books as one of Broadway's biggest flops. An album of the show's songs, Songs from the Capeman (1997), performed by Simon, was released.
In 1999 Simon went on tour with a singer/songwriter of equal legend, Bob Dylan. They successfully toured throughout 1999 and into 2000, performing concerts that contained their own solo sets, which were followed by a forty-five-minute set of them playing together.
Simon received a Grammy Award nomination for his ninth solo album, You're the One (2000). The album was less conceptual than his work of the 1990s and harked back to the introspective and melancholic wit of his earlier work. Simon received his second induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, this time as a solo performer. He earned one of America's grandest tributes when he was honored at the 2003 Kennedy Center Honors.
Aside from being one of the most important songwriters of his time, Simon is also an enchanting performer with a rich voice, and his classically influenced folk guitar style is highly revered.
Paul Simon (Columbia, 1972); There Goes Rhymin' Simon (Columbia, 1973); Still Crazy After All These Years (Columbia, 1975); Hearts and Bones (Warner Bros., 1983); Graceland (Warner Bros., 1986); The Rhythm of the Saints (Warner Bros., 1990); Paul Simon's Concert in the Park (Warner Bros., 1991); Songs from "The Capeman" (Warner Bros., 1997); You're the One (Warner Bros., 2000). With Simon and Garfunkel: Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (Columbia, 1964); Sounds of Silence (Columbia, 1966); Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (Columbia, 1966); Bridge over Troubled Water (Columbia, 1970); The Concert in Central Park (Warner Bros., 1982). Soundtrack: One-Trick Pony (WEA, 1980).
J. Perone, Paul Simon: A Bio-Bibliography, Vol. 78 (Westport, CT, 2000); L. Jackson, Paul Simon: The Definitive Biography of the Legendary Singer/Songwriter (New York, 2003).
GARFUNKEL, ART (1941– ), U.S. singer and actor. Born in Forest Hills, New York, Garfunkel met singer/songwriter Paul Simon while they were both in their early teens. Garfunkel received his B.A. in art history (1965) and his M.A. in mathematics from Columbia University (1967). He and Paul Simon formed the duo Simon & Garfunkel and began recording Simon's songs together in 1960 ("Hey, Schoolgirl"). In 1964, Simon and Garfunkel signed a one-album contract with Columbia Records and released Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m. It failed to generate interest, and Garfunkel left the music business to teach mathematics. The sudden and unexpected success of a single song culled from the album ("The Sounds of Silence") brought Garfunkel back with Simon, and together they recorded a long string of hit songs that include "Homeward Bound," "I Am a Rock," "A Hazy Shade of Winter," "The Dangling Conversation," "The 59th St. Bridge Song," "Mrs. Robinson," "The Boxer," "Fakin' It," and "Bridge over Troubled Water."
In 1973, Garfunkel began a solo career and recorded such albums as Angel Clare (1973), Breakaway (1975), Watermark (1978), Fate for Breakfast (Double for Dessert) (1979), Art Garfunkel (1979), and Scissors Cut (1981). Garfunkel is the recipient of Grammy Awards for "Mrs. Robinson" (1969) and "Bridge over Troubled Water" (1970). As an actor, Garfunkel appeared in such films as Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971), Bad Timing (1980), Good to Go (1986), Boxing Helena (1993), and 54 (1998).
In 1989, Garfunkel published a book of prose poems entitled Still Water. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of Simon & Garfunkel) in 1990. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Garfunkel contributed generously toward helping the survivors and the victims' families. He continued to give concert tours and in 2002 released the album Everybody Wants to Be Noticed. In 2003, he reunited with Paul Simon for the first time in 20 years on a nostalgia tour.
J. Morella and P. Barey, Simon and Garfunkel: Old Friends (1991); V. Kingston, Simon & Garfunkel: The Definitive Biography (1996).
[Jonathan Licht /
Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]