The first Simon and Garfunkel song I heard and attributed to them was "Mrs. Robinson" in 1968. I recall this for several reasons. First was the name Simon and Garfunkel. I thought it was one person. Simon Ann Garfunkel. Or Simonan Garfunkel. Or Simon Angarfunkel. Could have been. One of the villains on a cartoon I watched back then sported the name Simon Bar Sinister. How big of a leap did I make?
I felt like an idiot when a friend told me the solo was a duo with the real names of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
And then what about those lyrics to the song? "Coo coo ca choo?" Really? I asked a friend why this verse was about Mrs. Robinson sneezing. Otherwise, why one line later they say, "God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson?"
My friend called me an idiot and said that "Coo coo ca choo" could carry any meaning you wanted to give it. That meant, according to my friend, that the phrase meant "freedom of expression."
"Well, if it means freedom of expression then you can't give it any other meaning, can you?"
"You just don't get the meaning," he replied.
Oh, well. I was eleven years old and not the brightest star in the night sky.
From that point though I took Simon and Garfunkel seriously, indeed. Two years later they released the song that, to this day, is the best song I've ever heard, "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
My mother loved it.
So did my father, miracle of miracles (see last week's post).
S & G's break up in 1970, right after "Bridge Over Troubled Water" broke my heart, because by that time I had all of their albums and listened to them over and over. I even worked out versions of some of their songs on the guitar.
All I could think was "Come on guys, couldn't you have walked over that bridge together?"
Then came the concert in Central Park in 1981 that later showed on HBO. Wow! They still had it.
I loved it.
And, of course, they've had reunions since. Of those "Old Friends" in 2003 is my favorite.
So what does all of this have to do with stories?
Songs like "The Boxer," "My Little Town," "Scarborough Fair/Canticle," "The Sound of Silence" tell stories that touch me. "Bridge..." most of all.
Check out this performance in 2009. It's not perfect. They get a tad out of sync. But they do it well, and what a contrast to the picture above. Given their tumultuous relationship over the decades, I'm glad to see them share a smile.
And I looked on Wiki the other day and realized that both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel turn 71 this year.