BY CHRISTOPHER GRAY
Simon & Garfunkel, the Everly Brothers
Frank Erwin Center, July 6
For all their pleasant melodies, pastoral imagery, and harmoniously finger-picked guitar, many of Paul Simon´s songs are born of a profound sense of loss. Green leaves turn to brown, a boxer loses everything but his dignity in New York´s asphalt jungle, Joe DiMaggio departs for parts unknown. If rhymin´ Simon and junior-high pal Art Garfunkel´s appearance Tuesday before a well-heeled Erwin Center crowd of nearly 10,000 didn´t gloss over that sense of loss, it gave equal weight to the duo´s happier side: the whimsically playful ´Feelin´ Groovy,´ rousingly jubilant ´Cecilia,´ and hard-won reconciliation of ´Bridge Over Troubled Water,´ which closed out the main set with a full-throated turn by Garfunkel that drew a well-deserved standing ovation.
Whatever animosity once existed between the pair (´We started to argue when we were 14,´ joked Simon) has receded like Simon´s hairline, and the depth of their friendship radiated through ´The Only Living Boy in New York,´ which Simon wrote in 1969 when Garfunkel was away filming Catch-22.
Over the years, their twin tenors Simon´s a mellow Merlot, Garfunkel´s a smoky Shiraz have intertwined so completely they could be brothers, so first hit ´Hey Schoolgirl´ made a perfect introduction for primary inspirations the Everly Brothers. Don and Phil, dapper in matching black blazers, delighted the crowd with a four-song miniset of ´Wake Up Little Susie,´ ´All I Have to Do Is Dream,´ ´Let It Be Me,´ and ´Bye Bye Love,´ which brought Paul and Artie back out for some excellent four-part harmony. The Everlys´ influence cropped up elsewhere, mostly on more rocking numbers like ´Keep the Customer Satisfied,´ which followed an equally driving ´Mrs. Robinson.´ Joe DiMaggio may be gone, but for Simon & Garfunkel, any loss is never total. ´Preserve your memories,´ advises ´Bookends.´ ´They´re all that´s left you.´ After Tuesday, no problem there.
By Joe Gross
Sunday, July 4, 2004
´This bubble of delight.´ That´s what Art Garfunkel calls the ´Old Friends´ tour with Paul Simon, which lands in Austin on Tuesday.
Isn´t that just the perfect Art Garfunkel phrase? It just sounds like something he´d sing five notes higher than Simon with acoustic guitars, stand-up bass and a steady drumbeat in the background.
´This bu-bble of de-liiiiggghhht!´
´We´ve stepped back into this bubble of delight that we left off in last fall, Paul and I,´ Garfunkel says from a hotel in New York, his speaking voice just as mellifluous as his singing voice. ´We have a lovely, warmed-up friendship. It´s a pleasure to have your dear, deep old friends back in your life. Most of us don´t have that many deep friends. The love and affection between Paul and Artie is the key to the tour. It spreads to the band, and the personnel and the audience.´
It helps that, from 1964-70, two New York kids who grew up together named Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel made five of the most popular rock records of the 1960s.
With Simon´s detailed, adult songwriting and Garfunkel´s extraordinary harmonies and knack for vocal arrangement, the two took still semi-radical folk rock and made tuneful, resonant and occasionally very corny hit records out of it. Their songs virtually invented soft rock as we know it, and every one of their albums has gone at least platinum, with their ´Greatest Hits´ selling more than 14 million copies. Those are era-defining numbers.
And it helps that much of this tour, which began last fall, has sold out weeks and months in advance (though tickets still are available for the Austin date). It has been 20 years since their last go-round, and people want to see these guys.
Garfunkel blames accident and circumstance for this outing: ´Opportunities just come out of the blue and whether you say ´yes´ or ´no´ dictates the course you´re on.´
In truth, he says that the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 put them on stage together for the first time in years.
´We did ´The Sound of Silence´ on that show and we left it thinking, ´That was nice,´ ´ Garfunkel says. ´We started hanging out, had a couple of meetings, a couple of dinners. That became ´Let´s work together,´ then came the tour.´
Then came a lot of work. Garfunkel says that while their voices still lock up pretty easily, so much time had gone by it was a little harder to find the right blend.
´But we´re both rehearsal freaks,´ he adds. ´We have good work ethics, so we put a lot of time in the arrangements.´
And that´s what he likes to do. ´I´m a behind-the-glass man, a control room guy,´ Garfunkel says. Indeed, he´s listed as a producer and arranger on a number of the Simon and Garfunkel albums, including ´Bridge Over Troubled Water´ and ´Bookends.´
He doesn´t hesitate to name Side 1 of the latter as his favorite S&G recording. ´I think it´s got ´it,´ ´ he says. ´It´s literary and that´s a very interesting quality for a pop record. Nobody writes like Paul Simon.´
As for the concert, Simon and Garfunkel reward the devout by sticking a few obscurities and reboots into a show that most fans know like their high-school yearbook.
´You know you´re gonna do ´Bridge,´ you know you´re going to do ´Scarborough´ and ´Sound of Silence,´ ´ he said. ´We brought in ´The Only Living Boy in New York,´ as I´ve found that people really love that one.´
Simon´s solo career will not be forgotten.
´I have a personal fondness for ´American Tune,´ written by Paul right after the two of us split,´ Garfunkel says. ´It went into his first solo album and I used to bite my lip and say, ´Gee, I wish I´d sung on that one.´ It comes from a Bach chorale that I showed Paul. We´re both good at hymnlike things.´
And expect chestnuts with new arrangements. ´We´ve gotten ´America´ better than ever,´ he says. ´We´re also doing ´Leaves That Are Green,´ no band, one guitar. I love working that way, I just go to heaven and it comes out of the two of us with real feeling.´
And it´s those real feelings that have stayed with people all these years. ´I think they´re good songs. Good is good,´ Garfunkel says as we wrap up. ´I´m proud of my body of work. I think the way these songs hit your ear is well attended to in the making.
´I think there are certain timeless values in those records: melody that really moves, chord changes that are not clichÃ©d. I think these things from decade to decade will always have appeal. We were tireless about getting it right as we defined right.´
Simon and Garfunkel leave Austin fans feelin´ groovy
By Michael Corcoran
July 8, 2004
The knee-jerk tag on Simon and Garfunkel is that Paul Simon, who´s ranked just below Bob Dylan among America´s greatest living songwriters, is the turkey main course, while Art Garfunkel is the cranberry sauce, just there to sweeten the harmonies. But at the Erwin Center on Tuesday night, in front of nearly 10,000 folk-starved fans, Garfunkel proved as equal an accomplice as the South African musicians who lifted Simon´s ´Graceland.´ Visually, the tall-haired Artie was Kramer to Simon´s George Costanza; musically Garfunkel gave wings to the pedestrian ´Old Friends,´ which opened the two-hour show, and ´American Tune,´ the Simon solo effort that should´ve been an S&G chestnut.
Garfunkel also stood virtually alone in the spotlight on the concert´s high moment, a shimmering take on ´Kathy´s Song,´ which he noted was his favorite Simon composition.
On his own, Simon would be playing the Backyard in front of about 4,000; Garfunkel would pack the 200-capacity Cactus Cafe. But together they´re a much bigger draw because fans know they´re going to be transported back to a favorite era by hearing hit after hit, without having to sit through ´one from our new album.´ These guys haven´t done a new song together in almost 30 years. Tuesday night, it was one classic after the next, with ´Scarborough Fair´ leading into ´Homeward Bound´ into ´Sounds of Silence´ into ´Mrs. Robinson.´ The duo performed only two numbers from Simon´s illustrious solo career; this set list was geared for baby boomer nostalgists (yes, a redundant term) who play ´Bookends´ while they sip wine or smoke after-dinner cigars.
Garfunkel did most the talking and aside from a little jabbering about the two meeting as sixth-graders at the school play, there wasn´t much interplay except when they sang. But the duo from Queens, N.Y., did go back to their very first hit, ´Hey Schoolgirl,´ which they recorded as Tom and Jerry in 1957. That number set up a too short four-song set by their idols the Everly Brothers. Phil and Don Everly had barely woken up little Susie before they, joined by Paul and Art, waved ´Bye Bye Love.´ The Everlys were like a halftime show, while S&G were the big game.
But I´d doubt if anyone asked for refunds. This was a show that surpassed expectations, most likely even by those who had paid up to $185 a ticket. Even the greatest cynic was sent humming out into the night. Much has been made of the troubled waters surrounding this duo´s relationship over the years; David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen have been cozier. But on Tuesday night, Simon and Garfunkel laid down a bridge of true affinity for the musical life they shared for a few years a long time ago