Friday, October 14, 2011

How Terribly Strange to Be 70

Paul Simon turned 70 yesterday. His original singing partner, Art Garfunkel, is right behind. How did this happen?

In the song, "Old Friends," from the 1968 album, Bookends, they sing the words that are contained in the title above.

I've followed Paul and Art since 1965, when their giant hit, Sounds of Silence, hit the airwaves. The two started out as a pop duo in the 1950s--Tom and Jerry--and become folkies in the early 1960's with Paul's sensitive, poetic lyrics matched with an acoustic guitar. When the record company decided to add electric tracks to their acoustic recording of Sounds of Silence, the two singers weren't even around, but they found out soon enough that their song had hit the big time. Folk rock had arrived, and the 1960s were the heyday of Simon & Garfunkel, but after A Bridge over Troubled Water came out, they separated.

I was pretty broken up about it. After all, the Beatles disbanded around the same time. And Paul's early solo efforts were good, but sounded empty without Art's high harmonic voice. But Rhymin' Simon turned out to have staying power, and as I fell for Kodachrome and the Hearts and Bones album, the best was yet to come--Graceland. That may be his best work ever.

Recently, a new album arrived, So Beautiful or So What, and a brand new, specially selected collection is arriving in a week or so called Paul Simon, Songwriter.

Paul recently sang Sounds of Silence at the dedication of the Word Trade Center Memorial. It was great to see him, but it would have been nice to see Garfunkel there, too.

But I guess I have to face the fact that if Paul's 70, I'm no longer a teenager myself--I'm not that far behind him.

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