Sounds Of Silence By Simon & Garfunkel

September 6, 2016

“The Sounds Of Silence” was written by Paul Simon during 1963 and an acoustic version was  included on the Simon & Garfunkel debut album Wednesday Morning 3 AM. The album and the song quickly disappeared and Simon moved to England.

Enter producer Tom Wilson. He had the Byrds “Mr. Tambourine Man,” when he asked the musicians from Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” session to stay in the studio to record a new electric backing for Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds Of Silence” vocals.

On January 1, 1966, Paul Simon received an amazing New Year’s gift, when he received a call informing him that “The Sounds Of Silence” was the number one song in the United States; a position it would hold for two weeks. It would introduce the duo and their music to the world.

Over The Bridge Of Time by Paul Simon

October 27, 2013


There is little left to say about the career of Paul Simon. He was one-half of the legendary duo of Simon & Garfunkel, plus his solo career has resulted in dozens of hit albums and singles. Throw in eight Grammy Awards, two inductions into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, induction into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, induction into the American Academy Of Arts And Sciences, 39 BMI Awards, named in 2006 by Time Magazine as “100 People Who Shaped The World,” and a Kennedy Center Honors recipient and you have one of the most famous and respected figures in American music.

Now Legacy Records has released Paul Simon – The Complete Albums Collection, which is a 15-disc box set containing his 12 studio and two live concert albums. They cover his entire solo career from 1965’s The Paul Simon Songbook to 2011’s So Beautiful, Or So What.

Coinciding with the box set release is a one disc compilation titled Over The Bridge Of Time: A Paul Simon Retrospective (1964-2011). While all the material has been available on a number of occasions, it is the first time that Simon & Garfunkel material has been combined with his better known solo work. The songs are sequenced chronologically beginning with Simon & Garfunkel’s first hit, “Sounds Of Silence” and ending with the recent “Love And Hard Times.”

There is nothing new here but the 20 tracks are a wonderful ride through his career. “The Boxer,” “Cecelia,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” set up such well-known solo songs as “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard,” “50 Way To Leave Your Lover,” “Slip Slidin’ Away,” “Late In The Evening,” and “You Can Call Me Al.”

Each of the songs stands on their own but they also make you yearn for more. Simon’s career is filled with well-known and not so famous material and to really appreciate his genius, it is necessary to dig deep into his catalogue of albums.

Still, Over The Bridge Of Time: A Paul Simon Retrospective (1964-2011) serves the purpose of whetting the appetite with many of the definitive songs of the last half century. It presents Paul Simon at his most memorable.

Live Rhymin’ by Paul Simon

July 19, 2011

Columbia/Legacy has just released four classic Paul Simon solo albums in remastered form with bonus tracks. Paul Simon, Still Crazy After All These Years, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, and the subject of this review, Paul Simon In Concert: Live Rhymin’ are all memorable albums, which became huge commercial successes by selling millions of copies.

Paul Simon has always been able to write a song. His ability to paint pictures with words has rarely been equaled in American rock music. He has produced lyrics that have been fun, thoughtful, incisive, interesting, and always entertaining. His music would undergo a number of changes down through the years as he would explore a number of styles.

Paul Simon In Concert: Live Rhymin’ was his third album after going solo, but it was the first one that caught my attention. I was a big Simon & Garfunkel fan, and maybe it was my disappointment at their split, but I ignored his first two albums at the time of their initial release. This album was an eye opener for me as it quickly proved that Paul Simon could really sing. I had always considered Art Garfunkel as the superior singer, but here Simon’s voice just soars on their material as well as some of his early solo songs.

The album was recorded during his 1973-74 tour in support of his There Goes Rhymin’ Simon release. It has never been stated at which venues the recordings were made but there is little doubt it was separate concerts. Despite that fact, the album is pieced together well so it presents a short, but effective concert experience.

Simon’s solo career was in its formative stages at the time, so he was relying on the extensive Simon & Garfunkel catalogue for much of his concert material. As such, there is an immediate comfort level. It was interesting at the time to hear him rework such songs as “Sounds Of Silence,” “Homeward Bound,” “The Boxer,” “El Condor Pasa,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to fit his voice, as they were and remain some of the best known songs in American pop music history.

His early solo material was fresh at the time, but now almost forty years later, songs such as “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard,” “”Mother and Child Reunion,” “Duncan,” “Loves Me Like A Rock,” and “American Tune” represent the simple period of his career. Today these songs have been overplayed and I can’t help but miss some of his more recent, sophisticated material. Still, if the album is accepted as representative of his career at the time, they still provide a nice listen.

Live Rhymin’ is an album that has been reissued a number of times down through the years. It remains a fine overview of his early solo concert act. It should be a part of any music collection as it is a pleasant way to spend an hour and let your mind wander back to when Paul Simon’s career, and life itself. was a lot more simple.

Homeward Bound 45 by Simon & Garfunkel

June 20, 2011


Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel hit the big time with the release of their “Sounds Of Silence” single during November of 1965. It would top the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

On February 12, 1966, they released “Homeward Bound,” which solidified their position as hit makers. It would reach number five on the BILLBOARD Chart.

“Homeward Bound” was a gentle folk song that featured the dual vocals and harmonies of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. It would become an early addition to their impressive catalogue of music.

So Beautiful, So What by Paul Simon

June 6, 2011

It has been about five years since Paul Simon has come calling with a new studio album. The good news is that So Beautiful Or So What is his best album since Graceland, although its style and sound is more in line with that album’s successor, Rhythm Of The Saints.

Simon’s voice is always reassuring. And here he appears relaxed, as if he is sitting in his living room performing for a few friends. His poetic ability remains intact as he explores such themes as mortality, eternal life and spirituality.

The album’s musical textures and rhythms are far removed from his Simon & Garfunkel days. He continues to incorporate African rhythms to support his lyrics and at times to run counterpoint to them. In fact, he has become extremely adept at layering various sounds until the instruments blend together into a united whole.

There are a number of very strong, creative tracks. The album opener, “Getting Ready For Christmas Day,” serves to set the tone for what will follow. Its lyrics are based on a 70-plus-year-old sermon by The Reverend J.M. Gates, a fire and brimstone, Heaven and Hell preacher. Simon modernizes his message, layering drums as foundation and enhancement.

The great Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, wrote how he considered Hell would be an endless succession of red tape and administrative layers. ”The Afterlife” adapts those concepts to Simon’s views of Heaven, complete with filling out forms and endless waiting.

The best track may be “Love Is Eternal Sacred Light.” In it Simon admits there are no answers to life’s major questions, but ultimately that is okay. He even pokes some fun of his philosophical predicament.

Later this year Paul Simon will turn 70, an age when the themes he explores here take on added personal importance. As such, with So Beautiful Or So What he has produced a mature work that explores his life’s ongoing journey, doing so through music of depth and beauty.

Read more:

The Sounds Of Silence 45 by Simon and Garfunkel

June 14, 2009

“The Sound Of Silence” was a track on Simon & Garfunkel’s first album, Wednesday Morning 3 AM. It was an acoustic album in the folk tradition and quickly disappeared without making much of a commercial impact. Paul Simon left for England shortly thereafter.

Enter producer Tom Wilson who had been listening to the Byrds fusion of country and rock on their classic release “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Without Simon or Garfunkel’s knowledge he electrified the song and released it as a single. When Paul Simon returned from England he found that he had a number one song on his hands. Simon and Garfunkel would go on to create some of the best pop in music history.

“The Sounds Of Silence” remains a signature song from the 1960’s. It’s memorable lyrics and subtle harmonies made it one of the unique songs of its era. It still receives radio airplay today and remains just over three minutes of pop bliss.841g

Live From Philadelphia (DVD) by Paul Simon

May 21, 2009

Let me issue the warning first. If you are a Paul Simon fan, the music presented here was issued in 2003 on a previous DVD titled, Live At The Tower Theatre. Nowhere on the Live From Philadelphia DVD package or in the promotional material is this fact mentioned.

While most people would not want to purchase the same concert material twice, if you do not own the Tower disc you’ll find that the choice of many songs and their presentation are very different from the normal Paul Simon live fare. Plus, he is backed by one of the best bands of his career.

In 1980 Paul Simon was touring in support of his One Trick Pony album. He is backed by drummer Steve Gadd, bassist Tony Levin, keyboardist Richard Tee, and more importantly guitarist extraordinaire Eric Gale. This was the group of musicians who supported him on the album and they are a very tight unit. All but Levin played together in the group Stuff for a number of years. The interaction between Simon and Gale is interesting and ultimately brilliant. Simon plays the rhythm part on the songs and literally could have performed without any other accompaniment. Gale just improvises against this basic sound being laid down by Simon. In some ways this becomes an Eric Gale concert as well. If you are a fan of this late, great guitarist, then this performance is a must.

The set presented on the DVD is short at eleven songs and just under 55 minutes. Paul Simon is in fine vocal form and appears relaxed (and young). It’s nice to see him not surrounded by a multitude of back-up singers and musicians.

Four songs from his One Trick Pony album are performed. The rarely heard “Ace In The Hole” and “Jonah” are given a funky feel. “One Trick Pony” has some wonderful interplay between the bass and Gale’s guitar. Paul Simon’s big hit at the time, “Late In The Evening,” is given a straightforward outing.

Another rarely performed song, “Something So Right,” features some more clean and understated picking by Gale. “Still Crazy After All These Years” has a wonderful jazz feel.

Homage is paid to his Simon & Garfunkel days as the concert closes with “The Boxer” and “The Sounds Of Silence.” While these songs are two of the most over played in their catalogue, Simon gives them freshness.

Live From Philadelphia is a nice relic from the past as it presents Paul Simon at his best.

Concert In Central Park by Simon & Garfunkel

May 8, 2009

Most people have forgotten what a big deal Simon & Garfunkel’s free concert in Central Park was at the time. After the release of Bridge Over Troubled Water the duo had gradually gone their separate ways. There had been a 1972 concert in Madison Square Garden for presidential candidate George McGovern, a 1975 appearance on Saturday Night Live, and they had recorded a single together titled “My Little Town.”

By 1981 Simon & Garfunkel had taken on a legendary status and so on September, 19, the lawn of New York’s Central Park was covered by several hundred thousand people who had turned out to see this free reunion concert. This performance would be recorded live and released as a two disc vinyl album on February 16, 1982.

The Concert In Central Park would find the duo updating their sound. A full band with synthesizers and a brass section would provide backing.

The album also shows just what wonderful vocalists Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were and how perfectly they fit together. It also proved that they could provide perfect renditions of their songs live without any recording techniques.

The song selection was impeccable. The concert begins with “Mrs, Robinson” which quickly established the fact that Simon & Garfunkel are alive and very well. “Homeward Bound,” “America,” the Paul Simon solo hit “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard,” and “Scarborough Fair” quickly follow and are all presented perfectly but with a modern sheen.

Side two begins with the gentle folk hit, “April Comes She Will” and then moves to an Everly Brothers tribute song, “Wake Up Little Susie.” They had based their original sound upon that of the Everly’s and were one of the few artists who were able to mimic them perfectly.

The “Kodachrome/Maybelline” medley was an inspirational pairing of two songs that don’t seem to fit together. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” just soared out into the night with some of the purest vocals ever captured live.

The concert ends with the poignancy of “Old Friends,” the goofiness of “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” and the quiet beauty of “The Sound Of Silence.”

The Concert In Central Park was and remains one of the best live albums ever recorded. It captured one of music’s legendary duos at their best and also showed what the music world had been missing.

Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel

May 8, 2009

Bridge Over Troubled Water was issued Feb. 14, 1970 and was as close to pop perfection as any album ever released. It would spend ten weeks on top of the national charts and sell 13 million copies. It would go on to win six Grammy Awards.

The 1960s had ended with the alienation of American youth. The Vietnam War, which was killing hundreds of young people each week, being chronicled on television. The draft lottery, the Manson family, the violence at Altamont, and the election of Richard Nixon all combined to move society far from the ideals of peace and love. It was against this background that the beauty of Bridge Over Troubled Water burst upon the music scene and in some way provided hope or at least a means of escape.

The title song is graceful, poetic, and inspirational. Art Garfunkel’s vocal soars above the mix and brings the lyrics to life. Garfunkel called singing this song in Madison Square Garden a spiritual experience. “Bridge Over Trouble Water” would be released as a single and top the charts for six weeks. It remains as one of the signature pop performances in music history.

“The Boxer” is a wonderfully reflective song about loss and struggle but with a dignity and perseverance. “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)” is a gentle song filled with obscure lyrics, yet they create a calm mood.

“Keep The Customer Satisfied” is about as rockish as Simon & Garfunkel would get. The brass background is reminiscent of the Blood, Sweat & Tears sound of the era. Hidden inside of this sound is a creative tale as told by Paul Simon. “Baby Driver” is another up-tempo production with words that draw you in but do not let you interpret them easily.

Simon & Garfunkel based their vocal style and harmonies upon that of The Everly Brothers. “Bye Bye Love” is a tribute to that duo. They provide a modernized version of this old hit and it is doubtful if anyone could have done it better. Some of the best harmonies of their career appear on this song.

This would be Simon & Garfunkel’s last studio album together. They would reunite for live performances and a few songs, and recently have toured together but would mostly travel different career paths.

Bridge Over Troubled Water is legitimately recognized as a landmark album. It is a series of songs that provide comfort and ultimately restore faith. It is not often you can receive this type of experience from a music album.

Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel

May 2, 2009

A lot changed during the 18 months between Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme and the release of Bookends. The Vietnam War was reaching its critical stage, the release of Sgt. Peppers had impacted the very fiber of modern music, Jimi Hendrix had exploded upon the scene, and Simon & Garfunkel had helped to organize the legendary Monterey Pop Festival.

Simon and Garfunkel were legitimate stars by the time of this release. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme had reached number four on the album charts. The movie, The Graduate, with the memorable, “Mrs. Robinson,” would enable Simon & Garfunkel to reach a whole new audience and build upon their established fame.

Bookends, released April 3, 1968, held the number one slot in the U.S. for seven weeks and remained on the charts for over a year thereafter. The duo was now a mouthpiece for a generation and Bookends represented their manuscript for this place in time, containing a series of poetic stories about innocence, loss and the American Dream.

There were four single releases from this album, three of them selling well but not reaching the top ten. “Fakin’ It” (#23) and especially “At The Zoo” (#16) and “A Hazy Shade of Winter” (#13) may have been just a little too thought provoking for radio and car music, but within the context of the album they worked well. “Fakin’ It” is about life’s insecurities. “A Hazy Shade Of Winter” is a thoughtful song about time passing quickly with a melody that belies its serious content. “At The Zoo” is a complicated song with obscure lyrics that almost defies understanding but always brings the listener back for another try.

The fourth single, “Mrs, Robinson,” ultimately reached number one. It became a signature song for the duo and would cross generational lines as it addressed eternal themes of life and time’s passing. The song would go on to win the Grammy Award as Record of the Year.

Another tune that would stand the test of time is “America.” which remains a part of Paul Simon’s concert repertoire. It is interesting to think of the ever-changing context of this song over the years.

One of the most memorable two minutes on the album, “Voices Of Old People,” gathered a string of reflections by the elderly, which Art Garfunkel recorded at rest homes. Entire lives are presented in just a sentence or two. I wish the album could have concluded with this track as it is the ultimate bookend.

This album and I have aged forty years since its release and these end of life thoughts are more poignant, sadder and real for me today. When the track “Old Friends” follows, there is a sigh for what can never be again.

Bookends remains an album I play over and over again. As I have aged, these songs have taken on new personal substance and meaning, communicating on both conscious and unconscious levels. Music rarely gets better than this.