Sunday, February 03, 2013

Music Sunday: The Simon and Garfunkel Edition

Some Sundays, I wake up with no idea what I'm going to write about and share for Music Sunday. Other Sundays, I know exactly what I want to do with the post of the day.

This week, I've known for a couple of days what I'm going to share today.

I spent a good part of the past week reading Tom Brokaw's book from 2007, Boom! Voices of the Sixties. Somewhere in the pages of the book, Simon and Garfunkel were mentioned. My first thought at that reference was that I haven't heard any of their music in quite a long time, and that Music Sunday would be the perfect reason to go looking for some of their work.

And so, that's the plan for today.

Simon and Garfunkel actually met when they were in elementary school, in 1953, and started writing songs together in 1955. They recorded a single, "Hey, Schoolgirl", in 1957, calling themselves Tom & Jerry. The song got enough play that they appeared on American Bandstand. It doesn't sound exactly like what would become their signature folk style:

After some later success on the Greenwich Village folk scene and recording several songs that did not initially get much notice, the singers went their separate ways, with Paul Simon moving to England. While he was there, however, "The Sound of Silence" began getting some airplay. When Simon returned to the US, the duo got back together. I found this live performance of "The Sound of Silence", from a 1966 television broadcast:

They followed in 1965 with "I Am A Rock". I think this live performance might be from the same 1966 Canadian television broadcast as the previous clip. In the clip, Simon introduces the song as perhaps his "most neurotic" song:

One of my own favorites of Simon and Garfunkel's songs is "Scarborough Fair", from 1966. They manage to make the traditional ballad from Britain sound as antique as it is, even in this performance from the duo's 1981 reunion concert in Central Park:

Along with "The Sound of Silence" and "Scarborough Fair", the song "Mrs. Robinson" appeared in the 1967 film "The Graduate". This is the 1968 recording of "Mrs. Robinson", on the album "Bookends". It is a different, more complete version than appeared in the film:

"Bridge Over Troubled Water" was Simon and Garfunkel's biggest hit, here from the Concert in Central Park in 1981. It has never been one of my favorite songs, but this particular performance is very good:

"Cecelia" is also from the "Bridge Over Troubled Water" album, and I like it much better. The conventional wisdom is that the song is about a girl, but Paul Simon has indicated that it is actually about St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music and has more to do with trouble writing songs than with girl trouble. Take your pick; the song works either way:

Simon and Garfunkel broke up, mostly for good, in 1970, but they have reunited several times for performances, including an appearance on the second episode of "Saturday Night Live" on October 18, 1975, and for the previously mentioned Concert in Central Park in 1981, which was attended by over half a million people.

No comments: