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Music / Playlist
We pick our favourite Simon & Garfunkel tracks ahead of the Through The Years tribute show arriving in Australia in February and March 2020
It cannot be denied – Simon and Garfunkel created some of the most memorable music in the pop canon.
While the friendship between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel may have been filled with bitterness, the pair truly knew how to make music together. From the release of their debut studio album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. in 1964 through to their final album, 1970’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, the iconic duo released five albums packed with stunning singles that laid a foundation for today’s folk-rock sound. So entrenched in popular music, it is hard to separate the pair from all the artists they have influenced since.
Growing from an earnest folk duo to some of the most adventurous artists in the ’70s, a trek through their discography is never a boring one. Despite the fact that none of their songs were officially written together, the combination of Paul’s intricate and timeless songwriting, Art’s vocals, and the way their voices harmonise together has ensured they’ve remained one of the greatest musical duos of all time.
Now you can relive all the magic and glory of a Simon and Garfunkel performance with Simon & Garfunkel: Through the Years. Made up of Dan Haynes & Pete Richards, the pair have taken the show around the world, including theatres across the UK, Europe and the United States. Performing the songs in a truly captivating way, against a backdrop of iconic imagery, their delicate recreation of the unmistakable sound of the American folk-rock duo is breathtaking.
In preparation for the tour to land in Australia in February and March 2020, we’ve dug through Simon and Garfunkel’s back catalogue to pick out some of our favourite tracks.
Even though the movie was already full of the duo’s music, The Graduate director Mike Nichols wanted just one more Simon and Garfunkel song to complete the soundtrack. Originally titled ‘Mrs Roosevelt’, a track Paul Simon had written about Eleanor Roosevelt, the duo was more than happy to change the title over. At the time the song was still incomplete, they even had to fill in missing lyrics with “dee dee dee”, but Nichols loved it and it’s continued popularity proves that everyone else does too. From Simon’s stellar guitar work to the little bongo drum inclusion and some lovely pop culture references, the track – with its regret, hope and nostalgic look at a time gone by – is still just as fitting today.
Holding as much relevancy today for its use in pop culture memes (“Hello, darkness, my old friend / I’ve come to talk with you again”) as it has for the array of artists adding their spin on the classic, ‘The Sound of Silence’ became Simon and Garfunkel’s first=ever number one and still stands as one of the greatest songs, not only in the folk-rock canon but in music history. Originally released as a stripped-down acoustic folk number on the duo’s debut album, it wasn’t until producer Tom Wilson (who also had his hands on Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited) remixed the track, adding electric guitars and drums – without the duo’s knowledge, they had disbanded at the time – that the track really took off. The success of the track saw the band get back together, and from there the rest is history.
What began as an improv session recorded on a tape recorder in a house on Los Angeles’ Blue Jay Way soon became the signature bones of ‘Cecilia’. Released as the follow up to ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ (don’t worry, we’ll get there soon), this percussion-based handclap-filled tune with its Latin rhythms was one of Simon’s first forays into a more global, worldly sound.
By the time Simon and Garfunkel had reached their fifth album Bridge Over Troubled Water their relationship was incredibly fractured, and many of the tracks on what would turn out to be their final album include illusions to the duo’s feelings towards each other, but ‘The Boxer’ instead speaks of inner, more personal turmoil. Rumours that went around for years suggested ‘The Boxer’ might have been aimed at Bob Dylan, but after Dylan covered the track on his own album Self Portrait’ most decided the claim was nothing more than a rumour. While the heartfelt lyrics make the track so powerful, its production might just be the most impressive element. Garfunkel and producer Roy Haylee spent more than 100 hours on the track, moving from studio to studio and even St Paul’s Chapel in New York to get the perfect echo effect.
We don’t think there are many more heartbreakingly beautiful songs in musical history than Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. Written at the height of the duo’s turmoil, the emotional masterpiece based on friendship has become the quintessential Simon and Garfunkel track, even though it doesn’t event feature both musicians on the recording. The first time that Garfunkel heard the track he told Simon that he should be the one to sing it, but in a generous move that Simon has said he since regrets, the track belongs to Garfunkel and his soaring vocals. It’s been covered by everyone from Elvis Presley to Aretha Franklin, becoming the band’s most successful track, remaining at number one on the charts for six weeks in 1970 and winning Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in the process.
A song about a road trip with Simon’s girlfriend, ‘America’ beautifully captured the country’s sense of restlessness and confusion during the year that saw the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, as well as the escalation of the war in Vietnam. While it barely made a dent in 1968, it’s become one of Simon and Garfunkel’s most loved songs. Flitting between youthful joy and deep sadness, it is the duo’s gorgeous harmonies that makes ‘America’one of the strongest performances from the pair.
It was pretty hard to narrow down Simon and Garfunkel’s incredible catalogue to just these picks. Relive all their greatest moments when the Through The Years tribute arrives on stage.
Simon and Garfunkel: Through the Years will tour Australia in February and March 2020. Tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster.com.au.