There’s a moment at the famous 1981 Central Park party that tells a long story. Standing in the warm, cheerful rain, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were so intense that the line between affection and repression could no longer be clearly recognized.
Art Garfunkel goes to his younger partner in the theatre, and carefully puts his arm around his shoulders. Paul Simon hesitates before shyly responding to this gesture – while at the same time keeping his distance. Where is the line between affection and repression?
This scene illustrates: You can love someone very much – and still not be friends with them.
Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon—along with Jagger, Richards, Lennon, and McCartney, perhaps the most famous pair of dysfunctional friends in pop history—would be 160 years old these days.
Art (actually Arthur Ira) Garfunkel) was born in New York 80 years ago. Paul Simon is three weeks ahead of him: his birthday is October 13. Simon grew up in Queens. In 1953 the two met at rehearsals for a school performance of the song “Alice in Wonderland” – and they founded the duo Tom & Jerry, which thankfully became Simon & Garfunkel.
The two were completely identical. Two rather strange Jewish boys, united in their love for folk music. Simon was a genius – a talented guitarist and songwriter – Garfunkel had the voice of an angel.
But what made them so unusual: their voices were so identical that in the end you had the feeling of hearing one sound. They sang in the style of “close harmony”, vocals hugging each other at intervals of one-third. Their great role model was the Everly Brothers – a duo of brothers, united in a sincere love-hate relationship.
In 1970, Simon and Garfunkel separated for the first time, and several reunions and separations ensued. Paul Simon became a big solo star, and Art Garfunkel was young (and also worked as a math teacher). Both are politically active, Garfunkel loves to travel the world on foot and write about it. Simon no longer appears, but Garfunkel does.
He says of Paul Simon: “I love this guy. We were just a wonderful mix of two completely different people merging with a very short fuse.”
He calls himself an outsider: “I’ve always been just a shy intellectual who loves rock ‘n’ roll.”