Paul Simon, one of the finest songwriters of our time, got a Number One record his first time out with singing partner Art Garfunkel. "Sounds of Silence" was followed by "Homeward Bound"; "I Am a Rock"; the Bookends album; another Number One, "Mrs. Robinson" (thanks to the movie, The Graduate); the watershed Bridge Over Troubled Water; and a third Number One single, the title song.
And then Simon dissolved the partnership and started all over again. He was thirty-one and just launching his solo career with his "first" album when this interview was done by associate editor and record reviewer Jon Landau in the spring of 1972. Their three days together produced thirteen hours of tape, as Landau recalls, "for some poor soul to transcribe." Simon's second album was There Goes Rhymin' Simon (which produced the gospel-powered hit, "Loves Me Like a Rock"), and while he's been something short of prolific, he's made each effort worth waiting for. In 1980, he made his acting debut in a film he wrote, One Trick-Pony. He is no longer married to Peggy, mentioned in the interview, but his relationship with his family is reflected in both the movie and his 1975 album, Still Crazy After All These Years.
As for Landau, the former "dean of rock critics" went into producing records, doing well with Livingston Taylor and Jackson Browne, and doing spectacularly well with Bruce Springsteen.
Paul Simon divides his time between a farm in Pennsylvania and a triplex, once owned by guitarist AndrĂ© Segovia, in New York's Upper East Side, where the interview was taped. Peggy, Paul's wife, was present only briefly. She and Paul are expecting their first child in September. Paul had just completed production on the album of his friends Los Incas, whom he used for the background track on "El Condor Pasa. " In September and October he plans to produce his second solo album and in November will embark on a national tour.
We had not met before and so found ourselves getting to know each other while doing the job. I found him open on virtually every subject, but always deliberate and intent on laying exactly what he meant. His voice and pace would become more measured when the subject became more important. I realized he really did approach this interview the same way he approaches writing, recording, performing--as a perfectionist.
Q) Was there a specific confrontation or meeting or decision that finalized the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel ?
A) No, I don't think there was. During the making of Bridge over Troubled Water there were a lot of times when it just wasn't fun to work together. It was very hard work, and it was complex. I think Artie said that he felt that he didn't want to record, and I know I said I felt that if I had to go through these kinds of personality abrasions, I didn't want to continue to do it. Then when the album was finished, Artie was going to do Carnal Knowledge, and I went to do an album by myself. We didn't say, "That's the end." We didn't know if it was the end or not. But it became apparent by the time the movie was out and by the time my album was out that it was over.
Q) What were the immediate feelings brought on after the split?
A) Having a track record to live up to and the history of successes had become a hindrance. It becomes harder to break out of what people expect you to do. From that point of view, I'm delighted that I didn't have to write a Simon and Garfunkel followup to "Bridge over Troubled Water," which I think would have been an inevitable letdown for people. It would have been hard on me, hard on both of us. But more hard on the writer, because he takes the responsibility. If an album stiffs, I think to myself it stiffed because I didn't come up with the big songs.
Q) So dissolving Simon and Garfunkel was a way of unburdening yourself of a lot of pressure ?
A) Yes. And it left me free to do what I want. I wanted to sing other types of songs that Simon and Garfunkel wouldn't do. "Mother and Child Reunion," for example, is not a song that you would have normally thought that Simon and Garfunkel would have done. It's possible that they might have. But it wouldn't have been the same, and I don't know whether I would have been so inclined in that direction. So for me it was a chance to back out and gamble a little bit; it's been so long since it was a gamble.
Q) When Simon and Garfunkel were most active doing concerts--around '68 what was the day-to-day relationship like between the two of you? How did you function on the road?
A) Things were pretty pleasant from the point of view of us getting along. It was hard and boring to travel so much. But at the end, during the concerts in 1970, I would go with Peggy, and everyone would bring whomever they wanted, and it was more like festivals because we didn't go out too much, and when we did go out, we went to places we wanted to play, Paris or London.
Q) Anything on the road contribute to the breakup?
A) I don't think the road had much to do in exacerbating our relationship because, first of all, we weren't on the road that much in the end. The breakup had to do with a natural drifting apart as we got older and the separate lives that were more individual. We weren't so consumed with recording and performing. We had other activities. I had different people and different interests, and Artie's interest in film led him to other people. His acting took him away, and that led him into other areas. The only strain was to maintain a partnership.
Q) Because it was unnatural?
A) You gotta work at a partnership. You have to work at it, you got to . .
Q) But at this point it was not a natural one.
A) At this point there was no great pressure to stay together, other than money, which exerted really very little influence upon us. We certainly weren't going to stay together to make a lot of money. We didn't need the money. And musically, it was not a creative team, too much, because Artie is a singer, and I'm a writer and player and a singer. We didn't work together on a creative level and prepare the songs. I did that. When we came into the studio I became more and more me, making the tracks and choosing the musicians, partly because a great deal of the time during Bridge, Artie wasn't there. I was doing things myself with Roy Halee, our engineer and co-producer. We were planning tracks out, and, to a great degree, that responsibility fell to me. Artie and I shared responsibility but not creativity. For example, we always said Artie does the arranging. Anybody who knows anything would know that that was a fabrication - how can one guy write the songs and the other guy do the arranging? How does that happen? If a guy writes the songs, he obviously has a concept. But when it came to making decisions it had always been Roy, Artie and me. And this later became difficult for me.
I viewed Simon and Garfunkel as basically a three-way partnership. Each person had a relatively equal say. So in other words, if Roy and Artie said, "Let's do a long ending on "The Boxer'", I said, "Two out of three," and did it their way. I didn't say, "Hey that's my song, I don't want it to be like that." Never did it occur to me to say that. "Fine," I'd say. It wasn't until my own album that I ever started to think to myself, "What do I really like?" You would say, " That's a great vocal, listen to that." And I would listen, and I wouldn't think it was great, but he said it was great so I believed it was great. I just suspended my judgment. I let him do it. On my own album, I learned every aspect of it has to be your own judgment. You have to say, "Now, wait a minute, is that the right tempo? Is that the right take?" It's your decision. Nobody else can do it.
Q) You laid that more and more on 'Bridge' you were exercising the judgment and making the plan. Is it that Artie wasn't that interested?
A) It's hard to say, but I guess that's true - no, I can't say that. He had other interests that were very strong. But he certainly was interested in making the record. From the point of view of creativity, I didn't have any other interests than the music; I had no other distractions. On several tracks on Bridge there's no Artie on it at all. "The Only Living Boy in New York," he sang a little on the background. "Baby Driver," he wasn't there. He was doing Catch-22 in Mexico at that time. It's a Simon and Garfunkel record, but not really. And it became easier to work by separating. On Bridge over Troubled Water there are many songs where you don't hear Simon and Garfunkel singing together. Because of that the separation became easier.
Q) What was his reaction when he'd come back and you'd show him all this stuff?
A) "Bridge over Troubled Water" was written while he was away. He'd come back and I'd say, "Here's a song I just wrote, 'Bridge over Troubled Water.' I think you should sing it."
Q) It seems as if his absence would tend to make you more resentful if he were to reject any of your ideas. Did they?
A) That's true. If I'd say, "We'll do this with a gospel piano, and it's written in your key, so you have the song," it was his right in the partnership to say, "I don't want to do that song," as he said with "Bridge over Troubled Water."
Q) He didn't want to do it altogether, or he didn't want to sing it himself?
A) He didn't want to sing it himself. He couldn't hear it for himself. He felt I should have done it. And many times I think I'm sorry I didn't do it. Many times on a stage, though, when I'd be sitting off to the side and Larry Knechtel would be playing the piano and Artie would be singing "Bridge," people would stomp and cheer when it was over, and I would think, "That's my song, man. Thank you very much. I wrote that song." I must say this: in the earlier days when things were smoother I never would have thought that, but towards the end when things were strained I did. It's not a very generous thing to think, but I did think that.
Q) Do you mark the strain from 'Catch-22' or does it go back before that?
A) I think it started before that.
Q) When did you become aware of it?
A) There was always some kind of strain, but it was workable. The bigger you get, the more of a strain it is, because in your everyday life, you're less used to compromising. As you get bigger, you have your own way. But in a partnership you always have to compromise. So all day long I might be out telling this lawyer to do that or this architect to build a house in a certain way, and you expect everything. You're the boss. When you get into a partnership, you're not the boss. There's no boss. That makes it hard. There's eleven songs on Bridge over Troubled Water, but there were supposed to be twelve. I had written a song called "Cuba Si, Nixon No." And Artie didn't want to do it. We even cut the track for it. Artie wouldn't sing on it. And Artie wanted to do a Bach chorale thing, which I didn't want to do. We were fightin' over which was gonna be the twelfth song, and then I said, "Fuck it, put it out with eleven songs, if that's the way it is." We were at the end of our energies over that.
We had just finished working on this television special, which really wiped us out because of all the fighting that went on, not amongst ourselves but with the Bell Telephone people. We were very tired. It was all happening in the fall. We did a tour in October. We filmed the television special from September until October. We then had to postpone working on the album until the TV special and the tour were over. And then we went into December, and we had to stop for Christmas, and we didn't finish the album
until like the first week in January. We were really exhausted, and we fought over that. Well, at that point I just wanted out; I just wanted to take a vacation. So did he, I guess. So we stopped at eleven songs.
Q) The obvious question is why didn't it split up earlier?
A) That is a really good question. The answer has to go back to me. I always looked for partnership because I probably felt I couldn't do it myself. I would have been afraid or embarrassed. So I looked to work with a bunch of people. "We'll all do this. Actually, I'll do it all, but we'll all take the credit or take the blame." Peggy brought me out of that and made me feel like I should do it myself and take the responsibility. If it's good, it's yours, and if it's bad, it's yours, too. Go out and do your thing and say, "This is my thing." One of the things that upset me was some of the criticism leveled at Simon and Garfunkel. I always took exception to it, but actually I agree with a lot of it, but I didn't feel it was me. Like that it was very sweet. I didn't particularly like sweet soft music. I did like sweet soft music, but not exclusively.
Q) You thought Artie was contributing a lot to that?
A) That is Artie's taste. Artie's taste is much more to the sweet, and so is Roy's. Sweet and big and lush. More than me. There's nothing wrong with that; there's a place for lushness. It's not generally the way I go. This is what I've said on the new album to Roy. I want the tempo to be right; I want it to be a good tempo. I want to get like the basic rhythm section and one coloring instrument, maybe, like in "Duncan," the flutes and "Peace Like the River." That has its own coloring.
Q) Simon and Garfunkel were known for their fastidiousness in recording. You seem to be looser on your own.
A) It was all three of us, but particularly Artie and Roy. Many times I had arguments where I wanted to leave in something that was poorly recorded because it had the right feel, and they would always end up doing it again. They'd say, "It's bad, I didn't like it, I didn't mike it right, it was the first take and I didn't really get the balance," and I'd say, "I don't care, leave it. Leave it." That was the three-way partnership coming back to haunt me. Everybody has a voice, and everybody's voice is equal.
Q) Was 'Bridge' your best album?
A) Yes. Bridge has better songs. And it has better singing. It is freer, in its own way. "Cecilia," for example, was made in a living room on a Sony. We were all pounding away and playing things. That was all it was. Tink a tong tink a tink a tong tuck a tuck a toong tuck a . . . on a Sony, and I said, "That's a great rhythm set, I love it." Every day I'd come back from the studio, working on whatever we were working on, and I'd play this pounding thing. So then I said, "Let's make a record out of that." So we copied it over and extended it double the amount, so now we have three minutes of track, and the track is great. So now I pick up the guitar and I start to go, "Well, this will be like the guitar part"--dung chicka dung chicka dung, and lyrics were virtually the first lines I said: "You're breakin' my heart, I'm down on my knees." They're not lines at all, but it was right for that song, and I like that. It was like a little piece of magical fluff, bur it works. "El Condor Pasa" I like. That track was originally a record. The track is originally a recording on Phillips, a Los Incas record that I love. I said, "I love this melody. write lyrics to it. I just love it, and it right over the track." That's what it is, and that works pretty different "Bridge" is a very strong melodic song.
Q) How Was 'Bridge over Troubled Water' recorded?
A) We were in California. We were all renting this house. Me and Artie and Peggy were living in this house with a bunch of other people throughout the summer. It was a house on Blue Jay Way, the one George Harrison wrote "Blue Jay Way" about. We had this Sony machine and Artie had the piano, and I'd finished working on a song, and we went into the studio. I had it written on guitar, so we had to transpose the song. I had it written in the key of G, and I think Artie sang it in E. E flat. We were with Larry Knechtel, and I said, "Here's a song; it's in G, but I want it in E flat. I want it to have a gospel piano." So, first we had to transpose the chords, and there was an arranger who used to do some work with me, Jimmie Haskell, who, as a favor, he said, "I'll write the chords; you call off the chord in G, and I'll write it in E flat." And he did that. That was the extent of what he did. He later won a Grammy for that. We'd put his name down as one of the arrangers. Then it took us about four days to get the piano part. Each night we'd work on the piano part until Larry really honed it into a good part. Now, the song was originally two verses, and in the studio, as Larry was playing it, we decided--I believe it was Artie's idea, I can't remember, but I think it was Artie's idea to add another verse, because Larry was sort of elongating the piano part, so I said, "Play the piano part for a third verse again, even though I don't have it, and I'll write it," which I eventually did after the fact. I always felt that you could clearly see that it was written afterwards. It just doesn't sound like the first two verses.
Then the piano part was finished. Then we added bass--two basses, one way up high, the high bass notes. Joe Osborn did that. Then we added vibes in the second verse just to make the thing ring a bit. Then we put the drum on, and we recorded the drum in an echo chamber, and we did it with a tape-reverb that made the drum part sound different from what it actually was, because of that afterbeat effect. Then we gave it out to have a string part written. This was all in L.A. And then we came back to New York and did the vocals. Artie spent several days on the vocals.
Q) Punching in a lot ( recording in small segments to achieve greater control and accuracy)
A) Yes. I'd say altogether that song took somewhere around ten days to two weeks to record, and then it had to be mixed.
Q) "Bridge" was gospel, "El Condor" was South American, "Mother and Child" was reggae you seem to be incredibly eclectic.
A) I like the other kinds of music. The amazing thing is that this country is so provincial. Americans know American music. You go to France: They know a lot of kinds of music. You go to Japan, and they know a lot of indigenous popular music. But Americans never get into the South American music; I fell into Los Incas, I loved it. It's got nothing to do with our music, but I liked it anyway. The Jamaican thing, there's nobody getting into a Jamaican thing. Jamaicans have a lot of good music, an awful lot.
Q) That one you really pulled off--"Mother and Child Reunion. "
A) I got that by making a mistake. Because "Why Don't You Write Me?" was supposed to sound like that, but it came out a bad imitation. So I said, "I'm not going to get it out of the regular guys. I gotta get it out of the guys who know it." And I gotta go down there willing to change for them. I started to play with them. I started to show them the song and play, and we started to work it out, and they were playing, and I would play, but I couldn't play with it. Couldn't fit.
So I sat down and said, "You play it. Play what you want." That's the key thing. Let them play whatever they want, and then you change. You go their way. That's how you get that.
Q) You didn't have the words to that song written when you recorded the track?
A) I didn't. Know where the words came from on that? You never would have guessed. I was eating in a Chinese restaurant downtown. There was a dish called "Mother and Child Reunion." It's chicken and eggs. And I said, "Oh, I love that title. I gotta use that one."
Q) I read a lot into that one.
A) Well, that's all right. What you read in was damn accurate, because what happened was this: Last summer we had a dog that was run over and killed, and we loved this dog. It was the first death I had ever experienced personally. Nobody in my family died that I felt that. But I felt this loss--one minute there, next minute gone, and then my first thought was, "Oh, man, what if that was Peggy? What if somebody like that died? Death, what is it, I can't get it." And there were lyrics straight out forward like that. "I can't for the life of me remember a sadder day. I just can't believe it's so." Those are the lyrics. The chorus for "Mother and Child Reunion"--well, that's out of the title. Somehow there was a connection between this death and Peggy, and it was like heaven, I don't know what the connection was. Some emotional connection. It didn't matter to me what it was. I just knew it was there
Q) l still don't see why you would do the track before you had written the words. Why did you do that?
A) I had no words. The words I had I never intended to use. But sometimes you get a very good record that way because you fit the words right to the track. You play with the feel of the track and the words.
Q) The humor on 'Paul Simon' is elusive.
A) Yes. For example, at the beginning at "Papa Hobo," it opens light because it's stylised. It's an obviously constructed line. It's not a cry of anguish. It's too thought out. It's carbon monoxide and the old Detroit perfume. It's satirical. The "basketball town" line. It's got a little bit of bitterness, but it's also, it's in it's own way, an element of humor and a putdown of a place, a basketball town. It reminds me of a Midwest thing. The "Gatorade" line . . .
Q) I hate that word "Gatorade"....
A) That's why I use it. That word doesn't belong in a song. It comes out, and there it is. It's the whole thing. It's where that guy came from.
Q) You have said that "Run Your Body Down" had a comic intent. But the title line is a very real thing to many people.
A) It is true. I don't mean it to be any less serious by the fact that I feel that there's humor in it. I think that that's a delicate combination. If you can get humor and seriousness at the same time, you've created a special little thing, and that's what I'm looking for, because if you get pompous, you lose everything. If I should write a preachy song about "for God's sake, take care of your health" it would sound like a Nichols and May bit: "My God, your mother and I ate sick with worry." You can't do it in a song. Even "Me and Julio," it's pure confection.
Q) What is it that the mama saw? The whole world want to know.
A) I have no idea what it is.
Q) Four people said that was the first thing I would ask you.
A) Something sexual is what I imagine, but when I say "something," I never bothered to figure out what it was. Didn't make any difference to me. First of all, I think it's funny to sing--"Me and Julio." It's very funny to me. And when I started to sing "Me and Julio," I started to laugh, and that's when I decided to make the song called "Me and Julio"; otherwise I wouldn't have made it that. I like the line about the radical priest. I think that's funny to have in a song. "Peace Like a River" is a serious song. It's a serious song, although it's not as down as you think. The last verse is sort of nothing; it sort of puts the thing back up in the air, which is where it should be. You end up, you think about these things that are something to do with a riot, or something in my mind in the city.
Q) What was Simon and Garfunkel's vocal style ?
A) S&G's vocal sound was very often closely worked-out harmony, doubled, using four voices, but doubled right on, so that a lot of times you couldn't tell it was four voices.
Q) Not four-part harmony?
A) No. Four voices. "The Boxer" is four voices.
Q) You're each singing your part twice--doubled back?
A) singing it twice. "Mrs. Robinson" was four voices.
Q) Harmonically was there a lot of progression?
A) There wasn't a lot of harmony on it. The thing that I learned at the end of S&G was to let Artie do his thing, and let me do my thing, and come
together for a thing. All of the other albums up until then, they're almost all harmony on every song. How much can you do with two voices? You can sing thirds or you can sing fifths or you can do a background harmony. Something like "The Only Living Boy in New York," where we create that big voice, all those voices in the background. That's my favorite one on that whole album, actually. The first time those background voices come in.
Q) You recorded the album 'Sounds of Silence' in New York, Los Angeles and where else?
A) We tried a few cuts in Nashville. We did "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall." Was that on that album? (It was on Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme.) We tried to cut "I Am a Rock" in Nashville, and it didn't work. At that time, we had an asset that we didn't know about, which was our engineer in New York - Roy Halee.
We really didn't know Roy too well. We did "Wednesday Morning" with him, but we didn't have any sort of relationship with him. He was a young engineer at Columbia who was coming up and nice to get along with, but we didn t pay much attention to him; we looked to the producer for direction. It took a while to realize that the people who were getting what we wanted was the three of us, Arthur and me and Roy. So at that time Roy was the engineer, and he was making things good, but we weren't saying, "This is the engineer who's really doing a good job.
Q) 'Sounds of Silence' is a morbid album. It has suicides and ...
A) That's right. I tend to think of that period as a very late adolescence. Those kind of things have a big impact on an adolescent mind, suicides and people who are very sad or very lonely. You tend to dramatize those things. It depends on the song. "A Most Peculiar Man," which dealt with a suicide that was written in England because I saw a newspaper article about a guy who committed suicide. In those days it was easier to write because I wasn't known, and it didn't matter if I wrote a bad song. I'd write a song in a night and play it around in the clubs, and people were very open then. No attention and so, no criticism.
Now I have standards. Then I didn't have standards. I was a beginning writer then, so I wrote anything I saw. Now I sift. Now I say, "Well, that's not really a subject that I want to write a song about."
Q) How was 'Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme' approached differently from "Sounds of Silence" ?
A) Time, a lot more time. Also, there was 'The Dangling Conversation', which was with strings.
Q) Whole idea was the strings?
A) I don't even remember now. All of us, probably. See, "The Sound of Silence' first single, our second was "Homeward Bound" and our third was "I Am a Rock." They were all of them pretty good-sized hits. "The Sound of Silence" was a big hit. Our fourth record was "The Dangling Conversation," and it was not a big hit. Neither in the sales, nor did it go into the Top Ten.
Q) It must have been disappointing to you then....
A) It was amazingly disappointing. Absolutely amazing. Between the ages of fifteen and twenty-two, I had made only one very minor hit at the age of fifteen and then flops. So I expected everything to be a flop. I was utterly amazed that "The Sound of Silence" was a big hit. More amazed that "Homeward Bound" was a big hit. By the time "I Am a Rock" was a big hit, I starred to think, "Now I'm making hits," so now I got amazed when "The Dangling Conversation" wasn't a big hit. Why it wasn't a big hit is hard to know. It probably wasn't as good a song. It was too heavy. But anyway, this album starts to be more elaborate as far as time; I remember we spent about at least four months on it. Three or four months, and I remember then, that was the first time people started to say, "Boy, you really take a lot of time to make records." Columbia, they'd said that.
Q) What was Johnston's reaction to your taking so much time?
A) Fine, he didn't object. The whole time thing is a record company problem. They want you to put out records rapidly so that they can sell them. That's all they're concerned with--sales. Also, time costs a lot of money. Parsley, Sage started to get into the category of what albums cost today. Albums are $30,000 and upwards today, $30,000 for a medium-sized rock album. I'd say it costs between $50,000 and maybe up to $ 150,000.
Q) What's the more you've spent?
A) I don't know. I never look at the bills. But I would say it's between $50,000 and $100,000.
Q) These were being done on eight-track?
A) Sounds of Silence was done on four-track, but then we started on eight.
Q) Did you overdub the voice back then?
A) We almost always overdubbed the voice, because I was playing acoustic guitar and it was
hard to get decent separation between my voice and the guitar.
Q) So from the beginning you were making a more conscious use of the studio.
A) Both of us had a significant amount of studio time prior to our Columbia recording days. I did a lot of demos.
Q) Do you mean demos of your own songs ?
A) No. Other people's songs. I was a kid of seventeen or eighteen years old who could come in and learn a song and sing it in various styles. So a publisher would get a song and they'd say, "This song would be great for Dion." So we'd get somebody in, and I would be Dion, and then I'd sing all the background, "ooh ooh wah ooh." I'd do all those things and then sing the lead and for that get paid fifteen dollars a song. I did that when I was in school, and that's how I learned a lot about the studio. I learned about overdubbing. I learned about mikes. I learned how to sing on a mike.
Q) At the beginning, you didn't have that much sense of how much you could actually control your own thing. You would just skip the mix, wouldn't you?
A) We didn't show up for the mix on Sounds of Silence.
Q) Did you on 'Parsley, Sage'?
A) Parsley, Sage, we mixed it. It was the first eight-track session we did at Columbia. We were the first people to get them to do eight-track, and we were the first people to get them to go to sixteen-track.
Q) "Get them to"--what do you mean? You did these albums at Columbia recording studios . . .
Q) . . . and you pressured them to get sixteen.
A) Right. The first thing we did in sixteen-track was "The Boxer." It wasn't a sixteen-track machine; it was two eight-track machines synchronized, and it was a bitch to get them to work together. In other words, you had to press the button at the same time to record that way. It was hard. Halee rigged it out. It was hard.
Q) When you come to 'Bookends,' you're making full use of the studio.
A) That album had the most use of the studio, I'd say, of all the Simon and Garfunkel records.
Q) Where do you rate it among all the albums that Simon and Garfunkel did?
A) Right below Bridge. I rate each album as better than the last one. That's how I see it. In Bookends we started taking much more time with the singing. I remember, in Bookends, we were into punching in.
Q) You weren't in 'Parsley, Sage'?
A) Well, we might have repaired a line or something like that, but the concept in Parsley, Sage wasn't to get each line perfect, and it was in Bookends.
Q) Sometimes that turns into a compulsive thing.
A) To a degree, that would happen to Simon and Garfunkel. They'd get too perfect, which could be disturbing. A part of Roy and Artie's thing more than mine. Because I always liked more sloppiness than they did. They got to the point where it had to be just right. Sometimes it worked. Like, "Mrs. Robinson" was punched in a lot, and it worked really good. Bookends was recorded sort of half and half. Bookends is really the one side.
Q) And the other was made up of the most recent singles.
A) With the exception of "Mrs. Robinson," which was recorded at the same time as the songs on the Bookends side. Those other songs were for me, the dry patch of Simon and Garfunkel, which was from "The Dangling Conversation." I think the next was "Hazy Shade of Winter," "At the Zoo" and "Fakin' It"--those four.... They didn't mean a lot. They weren't well recorded. They just didn't have it. Then, The Graduate happened as we were working on Bookends.
Q) 'Bookends,' is really different from 'Parsley, Sage.' It's a new thing musically and lyrically. There are fewer of those vignette type of songs--like "Richard Cory" and "Poem on an Underground Wall."
A) Those songs that you mentioned were both written in England. Those English songs tend to sound like they have a connection. "Kathy's Song," "April Comes She Will," "Richard Cory," "Homeward Bound," "Poem on an Underground Wall," "A Most Peculiar Man" were all written in England. They all have that other feeling to me.
Q) The early albums used to be explicitly about alienation--Artie used to say so in all the interviews--that was really a late Fifties, early Sixtie thing. . .
A) "The Sound of Silence" was written about a year before it was recorded on Wednesday Morning. So that puts "The Sound of Silence" in '62, '63, I guess--two years before it came out as a hit single. So, it's written about a feeling I had then. And it took me a couple of months then to write it. So, a lot of these songs are written in the past, and they come out as if this is what we're up to. Then, a kid comes back from England
with a big hit record, and everybody says, "You seem to write a lot about alienation." "Right," I said. "Right, I do." "Alienation seems to be your big theme." "That's my theme," I said. And I proceeded to write more about alienation. Actually, Dylan was writing protest, and whatever it was, everybody had a tag. They put a tag on the alienation. And it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, so I wrote alienation songs. Of course, we all had a feeling of alienation....
Q) But protest was actually an attempt to deny alienation, because protest generally reflected an active commitment, an active involvement.
A) Well, I don't think so. Actually protest songs were saying, "I'm not part of you. ' If the world was full of me, the answer wouldn't be blowin' in the wind, you know.
Q) Did you dislike protest music?
A) No, I didn't dislike it. I liked it, like everybody liked it. I thought that second Dylan album, Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, was fantastic. It was very moving. Very exciting. There was a lot of bad protest because protest became a thing. What was that song?
Q) "Eve of Destruction"?
A) Awful. And you knew that it was already ruined when that happened.
Q) You mentioned before, referring to the second side off Bookends,' that the lean period for Simon and Garfunkel was . . .
A) "The Dangling Conversation," "Hazy Shade of Winter," "At the Zoo" and "Fakin' It."
Q) You didn't like any of whole?
A) "Fakin' It" was interesting. Autobiographically, it was interesting. But we never really got it on the records.
Q) I'm surprised because I like 'faking It' so much.
A) That's because you are thinking of "Fakin' It" on the album. And "Fakin' It" on the album is vastly improved over "Fakin' k" as a single. For one thing, I think it's speeded up. For two, it was re-mixed and greatly improved in stereo. It was a jumble; it was a record that was jumbled sloppy. When you hear the original mono, it's slower and it's sloppier. It was improved on the LP, but by then it was already poisoned in my mind.
Q) What was that business about the tailor during the interlude and was the "Leitch" you mentioned a reference to Donovan?
A) During some hashish reverie I was thinking to myself, "I'm really in a weird position. I earn my living by writing songs and singing songs. it's only today that this could happen. If I were born a hundred years ago I wouldn't even be in this country. I d probably be in Vienna or wherever my ancestors came from--Hungary--and I couldn't be a guitarist-songwriter. There were none. So what would I be? "First of all," I said, "I surely was a sailor." Then I said, "Nah, I wouldn't have been a sailor. Well, what would a Jewish guy be? A tailor." That's what it was. I would have been a tailor. And then I started to see myself as like, a perfect little tailor. Then, once, talking to my father about my grandfather, whom I never knew--he died when my father was young--I found out that his name was Paul Simon, and I found out that he was a tailor in Vienna. It wiped me out that that happened. It's amazing, isn't it? He was a tailor that came from Vienna.
As for Leitch, the girl who said that on the record, her name was Beverly Martyn--did you ever hear of John and Beverly Martyn? She wasn't married to John Martyn at that time, but I knew her from way back in English scufflin' days, and we brought her over to sing at the Monterey Pop Festival. I thought she was a really talented singer. She was sort of livin' around with us. It was during the psychedelic days. Records faded in and out; things became other things. And she was friendly with Donovan. So, we decided to make up this little vignette about the shop we wanted to come up with a name. She said, well, let's put in Donovan's name.
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