Last tour for Simon & Garfunkel?
By DAVID BAUDER
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
Paul Simon, right, and Art Garfunkel share a moment at the Grammy Awards on
Feb. 23, 2003, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
NEW YORK -- Fans couldn't help but be curious last fall when Paul Simon and Art
Garfunkel strode onstage to open their reunion concerts with the song "Old
Old friends, yes. But still friends?
The boyhood chums have been famously estranged through the years, the classic
example of a duo that made sweet music onstage and hit sour notes when the
lights went down.
Now, however, "my friendship with Artie is back to where it was when we were 12
years old," Simon told The Associated Press. "We're laughing and kidding around
all the time. It's a lot of fun."
Agreed Garfunkel: "We are remarkably like brothers in our musical calling and
our senses of humor."
Good vibes. Without them, Simon & Garfunkel probably wouldn't be going out on
the road again this summer, starting June 10 in Albany. The $64.5 million in
ticket sales for the first leg of the "Old Friends" tour probably helped their
They may be friends again, but that doesn't mean they always see eye to eye. In
the course of two interviews, they disagreed on whether Simon & Garfunkel has a
recording future, a touring future beyond this summer and whether a change in
their show for Europe was politically motivated.
Last fall, during the song "America," a video montage ran on screens behind the
two singers, showing images of the nation during the past 40 years. That will
be either changed or eliminated when the tour moves to Europe.
"It's what an artist does when he feels the name of his country speaks too
loudly and too provocatively (that) it pushes the music aside," Garfunkel said,
somewhat cryptically. He wouldn't comment further.
Simon said it will be altered to be more appropriate to Europeans.
"It's not a political statement," he said. "It's a geographic reality."
The singers' repertoire is kept strictly to the Simon & Garfunkel recordings,
except for Simon's early 1970s solo recordings "Slip Slidin' Away" and
"American Tune." Trying to balance the duo material with more solo work would
have been too difficult, Simon said.
"It's particularly appropriate now to stay locked into a time capsule, because
it has a lot of resonance," he said. "The power of the elapsed time adds
emotion to the songs. A lot of these songs, even back then, were dealing with
the passage of time."
Simon was in his early 20s when he wrote a line in the song "Old Friends" about
being 70. The idea that he's performing the song at age 62 "is still shocking
to me," he said.
Simon spoke from his office in the Brill Building, a legendary location for
songwriters during the 1960s. His walls were covered with old posters and album
covers, along with the New York Yankees fan's impressive collection of baseball
Garfunkel talked at his three-story apartment off New York's Central Park,
shortly before leaving on a trip to continue a walking tour of Europe.
Preparing for the show was difficult in an odd, unexpected way, Simon
described. For most people, their memory of Simon & Garfunkel is two singers,
one guitar. But the old recordings usually had full bands. The challenge was
being true to the fans' memories yet updating the sound. The duo travels with a
The tour gave Simon a greater appreciation for what Garfunkel's voice meant to
"The sound of the two voices is unique," he said. "The fact that the Everly
Brothers are part of the show really connects us to our beginnings. Just the
fact of duo singing is a powerful thing. It's gone."
Between the Everly Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel and John Lennon and Paul
McCartney of the Beatles, the sound of two voices blending to make a sound
distinct from each alone is a powerful thing, he said. It sounds shocking today
because no one is doing it, he said.
"I find Paul at his absolute best," Garfunkel said. "He is a benign papa, with
that same considerable talent and a beautiful work ethic. I love people who
respect their work."
Seeing the duo isn't a cheap date. The average ticket price for a Simon &
Garfunkel show last fall was $136.90, well above the industry average of around
$50, according to Pollstar magazine.
"It's a hard subject," Garfunkel said. "It puts me on the defensive. I didn't
make the ticket price. I'm involved in it, my profit is related to it. Am I
squeezing the American people? Well, if they show up and say we're happy to buy
your ticket price and come see the show, who am I to say you shouldn't be
Garfunkel said he's had great fun with the reunion, which he called "an
open-ended experience." The idea of new recordings from Simon & Garfunkel is "a
very interesting and feasible possibility," he said.
That may be wishful thinking.
Although they're preparing a CD and DVD recording of their Madison Square
Garden from last fall, Simon doesn't expect any new music from the duo.
"I think we're about what we were," not what we could be in the future, he
said. Simon is halfway through a new album, an intriguing partnership with
soundscape engineer Brian Eno.
He also predicted it would be the last time on the road for Simon & Garfunkel.
"If it was an ongoing act where there was new material being recorded and you
were working that into the repertoire, maybe there would be some
justification," Simon said. "But I think this is a good example of the music
that we made and I don't really see any powerful reason to do it again, because
we did it. It's not a Shermanesque declaration. It's just how I feel."