Paul Simon 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.
Principle 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)
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".
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.
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"
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 characterised as the junior partner in the duo, and there is truth in that, as Simon both 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. (Compare the solo version of "American Tune" to the one they recorded together during the concert in Central Park.) Additionally, Art had the solo on the duo's biggest hit ever, "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
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.
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.
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.
This Is a Song: "Song for the Asking", also "Leaves That Are Green" ("I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song").
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