by C. W. Nevius
The reuniting of the singing duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel for a tour won't change the world, but it will please a lot of people -- not to mention making a boatload of cash. Sneer at geezer rock if you will, but the Baby Boomers still turn out for concerts. Five of the top 10 money-making tours of the summer are represented by such elder statesmen as Metallica, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Ozzie Osbourne and . . . wait for it . . . Cher.
The witty, smart, close harmony of Simon and Garfunkel should fall right into line. They could be a little precious -- "Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you again" -- but songs such as "The Boxer" and lines such as "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you" have become a part of the national musical fabric. It is a grand body of work, still widely appreciated by a diverse fan base.
"There must be something wrong with me," joked the famously hip and cynical David Letterman when the two were on his show. "I am more excited about them getting back together than (the impending birth of his) baby."
The tour (which will include Oakland and Sacramento) should be a nice tribute. Simon and Garfunkel, who will each turn 62 on the road, can bask in their long creative partnership, reflect on a relationship that began before they were teenagers, and consider what a perfect match their voices and talents have been.
Except that they probably won't.
In fact, the two have, as they freely admit, been unable to get beyond petty bickering and jealousy. Even when the tour was announced, old friend Gary Bongiovanni suggested caution "because you never know when Artie and Paul will get into a fight and call the whole thing off."
It is a great lesson for the rest of us, without a tenth of the talent. How often have we formed a perfect, productive partnership -- business, creative or romantic -- only to undermine it with petty concerns?
Simon has said that when the two sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water," he would hear the roars of approval for Garfunkel's soaring voice and "I wanted to say, thank you, I wrote that song."
Can't you hear that tone in your mind? They created something wonderful and all they can think about is who gets the credit.
"It is all about ego," Simon has said. "It's about your own ego. As you get older you're able to just go past that and say it is unimportant. The ego is unimportant."
Nice thought, but the reality is that it is a constant battle. At last February's Grammy Awards, when they were reunited for a triumphant set on national television, they got into such a tiff -- "like ex-spouses," one technician said -- at the sound check that each stormed off to his dressing room and there was talk that the performance would be called off.
A lot of people have already scoffed that the only reason Simon and Garfunkel are getting back together is money. At least they have a reason. Isn't there someone you know with whom you once had a special bond who has dropped out of your life? You know, at some point it gets a little late to start making new lifelong friends. You have to preserve the old ones. It is never easy.
Simon and Garfunkel met on the way to sixth grade. By the time they were in seventh, Simon says, "we decided we would have to have a conversation and get it straight so that we'd stop arguing."
Instead, they've fought, and often lost, the battle of pettiness. For years,
Garfunkel reportedly kept the scathing reviews of Simon's Broadway bomb "Capeman" to show friends. Simon scoffed at Garfunkel's contribution to the duo. The two have stopped speaking for years at a time.
Now they are on the road again. Expect to hear a lot about healing and the power of friendship. Those are fine thoughts, but it is unlikely to be all sweetness and light. There are reports they have already argued about the split of the box office receipts.
Old friends indeed.