and Art Garfunkel first came together in 1957 under the name Tom and Jerry, but rose to fame as Simon & Garfunkel
almost ten years later, mostly due to their hit "The Sound Of Silence" (1965). Both men were childhood friends growing up in Queens, New York
a few blocks away from each other.
With the release of "The Sounds of Silence
," Simon & Garfunkel became one of the Trope Codifiers
of folk-rock alongside The Byrds
. The song was also their first hit on the pop charts, reaching the number one spot on New Year's Day in 1966. Their later hits included "Scarborough Fair/Canticle
," which combined the English folk ballad "Scarborough Fair" with an anti-war poem sung in counterpoint, "Homeward Bound
" and " Bridge Over Troubled Water
." Later, their fame took an ever bigger boost when their music was used in the film The Graduate
, which not only included their older songs (which was rare at that time for film) but also new material like "Mrs. Robinson."
Simon is by far the more well known of the group. He experienced a Breakup Breakout
and a successful solo career, while Garfunkel is still best known for his efforts with the band, although he's also known for singing the Theme Song
of Watership Down
. They have broken up several times, and reunited over the years. Most famously, they came together for The Concert in Central Park, which drew a crowd of over half-a-million.
Principal Members (Founding members in bold):
- Art Garfunkel - lead vocals, piano (19571965, 19661970, 1975, 19811983, 1993, 20032004, 20092010)
- Paul Simon - lead vocals, guitar (19571965, 19661970, 1975, 198183, 1993, 20032004, 20092010)
Studio and Live Discography:
- 1964 - Wednesday Morning, 3 AM
- 1966 - Sounds Of Silence
- 1966 - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
- 1968 - The Graduate
- 1968 - Bookends
- 1970 - Bridge Over Troubled Water
- 1982 - The Concert In Central Park
- 2002 - Live From New York City, 1967
- 2004 - Old Friends: Live On Stage
- 2008 - Live 1969
They/Their work feature examples of:
- Aerith and Bob.
- Album Title Drop: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. A bit of an inversion, as the title comes from the lyric itself (the lyric being from the traditional song "Scarborough Fair").
- From "Old Friends": "Old friends / Sat on a park bench like bookends."note
- American Title: "America"
- Anti-Christmas Song: "Seven O' Clock News/Silent Night"
- Before My Time: "A Simple Desultory Philippic":
- Big Applesauce: "Bleecker Street", "The Only Living Boy in New York", "The 59th Street Bridge Song", and their triumphant 1981 live album, The Concert in Central Park
- Big Guy, Little Guy: Garfunkel towered over Paul Simon in length.
- Book Ends: The aptly-named pair of "Bookends Theme" songs on the aptly-named Bookends album aptly bookend the A-side of the album.
- BSOD Song: "Patterns"
- Central Theme: Nearly all of their songs involve an inability to communicate. Some overt, some subtle. Becomes Harsher in Hindsight when they broke up.
- Christmas Songs: In 1967 they recorded two carols ("The Star Carol" and "Comfort and Joy") for a planned Christmas single. It was never released, though the A-side turned up on a couple of multi-artist Christmas compilations and both songs were eventually included in the Old Friends box set.
- Also, their rendition of "Go Tell It on the Mountain" from the first album. And, of course, "Seven O'Clock News/Silent Night".
- Concept Album: Much of Bookends is tied together with the themes of aging and decaying love. Also, it has that song from The Graduate on it.
- Dying Town: "My Little Town"
- Driven to Suicide: The subjects of the songs "Richard Cory" and "A Most Peculiar Man".
- Either/Or Title: "A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara'd Into Submission)"
- Folk Music: More so on their earlier material.
- A Friend in Need / You Are Not Alone: "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
I'm on your side/When times get rough/And friends just can't be found
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In A Simple Desultory Phillippic:
- The Hermit: "I Am a Rock", "A Most Peculiar Man"
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: This is most notably expressed in "The Only Living Boy in New York" which is basically about Paul missing Art (the "Tom" in the song; in the early days when they performed as "Tom and Jerry," Art was "Tom") when the latter went to Mexico to film Catch-22.
- Hypocritical Humor: "A Simple Desultory Phillipic"
- "I Am" Song: "I Am a Rock"
- I Just Want to Be You: "Oh, I wish that I could be Richard Cory."
- Imagine Spot: "Fakin' It"
Prior to this lifetime
I surely was a tailor
Look at me:
(Good morning, Mr. Leitch! Have you had a busy day?)
- In the Style of...: Their early recordings as Tom and Jerry were a inspired by The Everly Brothers' sound (whose song "Bye Bye Love" was covered on the Bridge Over Troubled Water album).
- Intercourse with You: "Cecilia" (going by a strictly literal interpretation of the song), "Baby Driver"
- Last Note Nightmare: "Richard Cory" features this with a stinger just before the final chorus, sure to startle.
He freely gave to charity, he had the common touch
And they were grateful for his patronage, and they thanked him very much
So my mind was filled with wonder when the evening headlines read:
Richard Cory went home last night and put a bullet through his head.
- The lyric then continues with
And I wish that I could be, yes I wish that I could be, Oh I wish that I could be Richard Cory. Of course, this was adapted from the poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson, which ended basically with the spoiled line.
- Their Bookends album has a First Note Nightmare at the start of "Save The Life of My Child", the second track of the album; made more jarring by the fact that the prelude was so gentle and puts the listener in a relaxed state of mind...and then WHAM.
- Laughing Mad: The end of "Cecilia", the singer's equivalent of throwing up his hands and giving in.
- Lesser Star: Former Trope Namer. Art Garfunkel has been characterized as the junior partner in the duo, and there is truth in that, as Simon sang, played guitar, and wrote all the music, while Garfunkel only sang. However, Garfunkel had a big hand in the vocal arrangements, and helped create the close harmonies that were one of the group's calling cards. One way to observe what Garfunkel brought to the act is to listen to The Concert in Central Park and pay attention to the Paul Simon solo tunes sung by the duo: "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard", "American Tune", "Late in the Evening", "Slip Slidin' Away", and "Kodachrome". The sound of the Simon and Garfunkel performances is very different from the original Paul Simon versions.
- Live Album: The Concert in Central Park
- Lonely at the Top: "Richard Cory"
- Lyrical Dissonance: "I Am A Rock", "The Sun Is Burning"
- Name and Name
- Never Be Hurt Again: "I Am a Rock" describes the feelings of someone who doesn't want to love any more because they were hurt by it once.
Don't talk of love
Well, I've heard the word before
It's sleeping in my memory
I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried
- New Sound Album: Their debut, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, had more of a traditional acoustic folk sound; the second album, Sounds of Silence, was where they shifted to more of a rock instrumentation and approach. The former album even had "The Sounds of Silence" in its original folk-style arrangement, whilst the latter introduced the familiar folk-rock version.
- Not Staying for Breakfast: "Wednesday Morning, 3 AM"
- Obsession Song: "Why Don't You Write Me", complete with a threat of suicide near the end.
- One Woman Song: "Mrs. Robinson", "Cecilia", "Kathy's Song", "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her"
- Putting the Band Back Together: More than once. The duo reunited for a single song, "My Little Town", in 1975. In 1981 they came together for a free concert in Central Park, New York City, which drew a crowd of over 500,000 people. This led to a world tour and their first new album in over a decade—until Simon mixed Garfunkel's vocals out of the album completely and released it as a Paul Simon solo album titled Hearts and Bones. In the 1990s the duo toured together briefly, and in the 2000s they reunited again and toured extensively.
- Refrain from Assuming: "Feeling Groovy" is actually "The 59th Street Bridge Song," but few people remember that.
- Repurposed Pop Song: "The Sounds of Silence" was used during the film adaptation of Watchmen. It is also the opening song for The Graduate, which also uses "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" several times.
- "At the Zoo" was used for advertisements for the Bronx Zoo and the San Francisco Zoo in the late 1970s, though this may overlap with Isn't It Ironic due to the song being more of an allegory for human nature. However, Paul Simon himself later re-purposed the song in the form of a children's book with the same title.
- "Bookends" was used as a New Year's Eve song for a while by networks, reminiscing about the past year in a montage.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Paul Simon wrote "A Most Peculiar Man" after reading a notice in a London newspaper about a suicide.
- Rockumentary: Simon and Garfunkel: Songs of America is a rather unique television special that aired on CBS in 1969. Much of the special is a fairly conventional rockumentary featuring interviews with the duo, footage of the duo working in the studio, and film from the 1969 tour. This portion includes Early Bird Cameos of "The Boxer", "Bridge Over Troubled Water", and "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright". The rest of the film is a series of montages of the social and historical upheavals of The Sixties (civil rights protest, Robert Kennedy's funeral train, etc), with Simon and Garfunkel songs as the musical accompaniment.
- Rule of Symbolism: A lot of it. For example, any time a betrayal is implied, thirty pieces of silver (or dollars) is referenced.
- Safety In Indifference: "I Am a Rock" is all about this.
I've built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
Its laughter and its loving I disdain.
- Singing Simlish: "The Boxer" and its "Lie la lie" chorus.
- Single Stanza Song: "Bookends"
- Society Marches On: "Seven O'Clock News/Silent Night" in particular. Gee, Lenny Bruce died this year?
- Soundtrack Dissonance: "Seven O'Clock News/Silent Night". Big time.
- Something Completely Different: On Bridge Over Troubled Water, "Baby Driver" (a silly little Intercourse with You song in great contrast to the very serious tone of most of the other songs) and "Bye Bye Love" (a cover of The Everly Brothers, and possibly a Call Back to their earlier years as "Tom and Jerry").
- On Bookends, there's "Voices of Old People", which consists of people in a New York City retirement home making conversation with Art Garfunkel.
- The Sound of Silence features the instrumental track "Anji", composed by Dave Graham.
- The Something Song: "The 59th Street Bridge Song" and "Kathy's Song"
- Spoken Word in Music: "Seven O'Clock News/Silent Night".
- A Storm Is Coming: inverted in "The Sun is Burning"
- Streetwalker: "The Boxer"
Asking only workman's wages I come looking for a job
But I get no offers
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare
There were times when I was so lonesome I took some comfort there
- Take That: "A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert Mc Namara'd into Submission)" is a rather savage Bob Dylan parody.
- "The Boxer" was also interpreted as a Take That to Dylan, but Simon has Jossed that interpretation, explaining that it was actually about himself in a period he felt like he was constantly criticised. Dylan's own Cover Version of it was seen as a Take That in return.
- There's No Place Like Home: "Homeward Bound"
Homeward Bound, I wish I was homeward bound
Home, where my thought's escaping
Home, where my music's playing
Home, where my love lies waiting silently for me
- This Is a Song: "Song for the Asking", also "Leaves That Are Green" ("I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song").
- Unintentional Period Piece: "Thirty dollars pays your rent/On Bleecker Street"
- Though it's a reference to Judas and those thirty pieces of silver, a metaphor used a few times by the duo.
- Updated Re-release: "Wednesday Morning, 3 AM" and "Somewhere They Can't Find Me" are more or less the same song, though the former is done as a folk ballad while the latter is poppier and begins with a bit of "Anji".
- The Cover Changes The Meaning: "3 AM" is a melancholy reflection from a man taking comfort in his lover's company one last time before the law takes him away. "Somewhere They Can't Find Me" changes the instrumentation to angry rock and adds new lyrics in the form of a chorus (including the title line) that indicate the singer plans to flee, unrepentant. Note that the same band released both the original and the cover.
- "A Simple Desultory Phillipic (or How I Was Robert Macnamara'd Into Submission)" from Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme is a darker, more cynical version of "A Simple Desultory Phillipic (or How I Was Lyndon Johnson'd Into Submission)" from Paul Simon's British album The Paul Simon Songbook
- "The Sounds of Silence" was originally released as a folk tune with the duo singing and Simon playing acoustic guitar. It went nowhere, and the duo broke up. Then the record company dubbed a whole new electric arrangement (guitar, bass, drums) onto the song and released the single again. It was a hit, and Simon and Garfunkel's career took off.
- Vocal Tag Team
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Very much, as anyone who's watched Paul snipe at Art onstage can verify. Simon has referred to Garfunkel as "my partner in arguments" on occasion.
- Wanderlust Song: "And we walked off/To look for America"