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58 years of The Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel.
On February 19, 1964, Paul Simon wrote one of the most beautiful songs in pop history: ‘The Sounds of Silence’. He premiered it with his partner Art Garfunkel some time later. After an initial failure, that romantic melody rose to number 1 on the Billboard charts, a reference magazine in the United States, at the beginning of 1966.
The soundtrack of the film The Graduate, in 1968, further contributed to its diffusion throughout the world. Simon and Garfunkel was an exceptional duo for the harmonies of their voices. But they laughed. And each continued to perform separately as soloists.
Paul and Art met at school, when they were teenagers; the first was born in New Jersey, and the other was native of New York, eighty years ago. United by friendship, companionship and their love of music, which led them to create the duo Tom and Jerry, a name that refers us to the remembered drawings of the Warner Bros production company (and not the Disney factory as some have mistakenly written).
But then they abandoned that denomination and chose to choose the first name of one, Paul, and the last name of the other, Garfunkel. Their activity began when the first half of the mythical 60s was over.
The first album they recorded, ‘Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.’ it was an absolute failure: they sold only two thousand copies. Among other pieces, there was already ‘The Sounds of Silence’, later so acclaimed. That, by the way, between later versions, has come to be known in the singular; that is, ‘The sound of silence’.
Discouraged by this unfortunate debut, Paul Simon decided to go to London for a while to continue his law studies, while Art Garfunkel returned to New York University, where he wanted to graduate in Mathematics. Paul had fallen in love with a certain Kathy, who probably inspired some melody in him. He was always more creative than his partner when it came to composing.
One of his obsessions was finding himself in absolute silence at his parents’ house, spending a lot of time in the bathroom, with the tap running, listening to how the water came out of the pipes, whose sound gave him pleasure, imagining some possible song. He claimed that the tiles in that room picked up the echo produced by the gushes of the water. Closing the faucet, there was silence. An obsession for him. This is how the bars of what was to be his best-known melody arose. To which you had to put a suitable letter.
That letter, translated into our language, came to say this: ‘Between the sound of silence. / In dreams without rest I walk alone…’. And then: ‘By the glow of the neon light / that split the night / I touch the sound of silence / and in the naked light I saw…’. The word silence was repeated and would give title to the theme. Versions have emerged about what or who inspired the lyrics. Paul Simon was moved, like so many millions of citizens, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on November 20, 1963.
He realized that how many mourned the death of someone who advocated a policy of new ideals from the White House, and He excited so many North Americans, they joined their prayers as they recognized his legacy. Paul Simon wrote as a result of that assassination a letter that speaks of the lack of communication that exists in the world. And that served for many to find in that text the reasons for that massive popular reaction of pain.
But can a plot connection really be found so that the lyrics of ‘The Sounds of Silence’ have something, or a lot, to do with that assassination? It is not easy to assert, but it is the most widespread version, since there is another less plausible one, which we refuse to comment on, considering it a simple fable. The most reasonable thing is to refer to what the author himself, Paul Simon, declared in one of his interviews: ‘The key must be found in a very simple melody and in the message contained in the text aimed above all at young people’.
Initially recorded with the simple accompaniment of a guitar, its strings plucked by Paul himself, it was later enhanced on the advice of producer Tom Wilson, with electric guitar, bass and drums. And then, forgetting the failure of their first album, Simon and Garfunkel achieved the worldwide success they were after. That, as we said, the film The Graduate increased the diffusion of its new recording, is something that no one disputes.
In addition, some other bands also included ‘The sounds of silence’ in other films. Paul Simon was able to return to the United States, from London where he perceived what The Beatles’ music meant, at the height of their popularity. They influenced Simon and Garfunkel, no doubt, but the former always expressed his admiration for Bob Dylan.
The successive albums (five studio albums in total, plus the compilations and direct ones) included other notable songs: ‘Bridge Over troubled Waters’, ‘Mirs Robinson’, ‘The boxer’ (her musical devotion to Dylan is recorded), ‘El cóndor pasa’, ‘Cecilia’… And so the years went by when the duo enjoyed success and general recognition, being considered very important in the course of melodic pop music. Before them, we only find a certain parallelism with the voices of the fantastic Everly Brothers.
But it is already known that sooner or later, duos, trios, groups in general, end up separating, like any marriage. And in the early 1970s, Paul and Arthur showed that they got along like cat and dog. Reasons? Several. Their disagreements began when Simon wanted to record an album based on what was happening in Cuba. And Garfunkel replied that if they got into political messes, he was no longer with them. And they broke their musical union.
After a few years singing alone, they reappeared together in 1981, with a massive concert in New York’s Central Park in the presence of half a million excited, enthusiastic fans. An album recorded live recalls that event. On subsequent occasions they resumed their galas, in 1990, in 1993, in 2003 on the occasion of receiving several Grammys… But too much time had passed. And Simon and Garfunkel, definitely, were left to remember. However, they separately continued their performances.
Paul Simon has been the first to retire, a year ago, becoming an octogenarian. Deciding that he had to collect what he had sown in music, selling the rights to his songs to a multinational record company. What he received is unknown, but it is easy to assume that a millionaire. That he deserved it, no doubt. For his part, Art Garfunkel fell into drug networks, being arrested a couple of times in 2004 and 2005, accused of being in possession of cannabis.
For the end we have left the review of the loving biography of the couple. Paul Simon had an affair with the Kathy we mentioned around the time she left for London: her full name was Kathleen Mary Chitty. Romance that lasted only a few months in 1964. Five years later, he was united with Peggy Parker, to end it with her in 1975. His romantic idyll, ending in a wedding, with the remembered Eddie Fisher, between 1983 and 1984, followed later, in 1992 when he married Edie Brickell. Paul is the father of four children.
As for Garfunkel, he was married between 1972 and 1975 to the architect Linda Marie Grossman. By divorcing her, he stated that he had never loved her, ignoring the reasons why he married. He went on to partner with photographer Laurie Bird for a five-year period. He would regret when she killed herself, because he was a drug addict, not marrying her, because he adored her.
The third in Art’s life was an actress, Penny Marshall, but only for a year, because when he left her, Garfunkel married ex-model Kathryn (Kim) Carmak, his last wife. He is the father of two children. In 2010, he suffered paralysis of his vocal cords, which kept him home for two years, until he was able to reappear.
The youth of many had as background music ‘The sounds of silence’ and other unforgettable songs by Simon and Garfunkel, which have not lost their validity, despite the novelties that continue to appear.
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Paul Frederic Simon (Newark, New Jersey, October 13, 1941) is an American singer, musician and renowned musical composer. Simon’s musical career has spanned more than six decades. He is widely considered one of the most acclaimed composers in the history of popular music.
He graduated from Queens College and briefly studied at Brooklyn Law School. Simon formed the duo Simon & Garfunkel with his school friend Art Garfunkel in 1956. They released five studio albums and became one of the most acclaimed groups of the 1960s. Simon wrote almost all of their songs, including ‘The Sound of Silence‘, ‘Mrs. Robinson’, ‘America’, ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ and ‘The Boxer’.
After Simon & Garfunkel broke up in 1970, Simon recorded three acclaimed albums over the next five years, all of which reached the top 5 of the Billboard 200. Simon reunited with Garfunkel for a performance in New York’s Central Park. in 1981, drawing half a million viewers, followed by a world tour with Garfunkel. After a fall in his career, Simon released Graceland, an album inspired by South African popular music, which sold 14 million copies worldwide and remains his most popular and acclaimed solo work.
Simon has won sixteen Grammy Awards for his solo and collaborative work, including three for Album of the Year (Bridge Over Troubled Water, Still Crazy After All These Years, and Graceland) and a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: first in 1990 as a member of Simon & Garfunkel and in 2001 for his solo career.
In 2006, he was selected as one of the ‘100 people who shaped the world’ by Time.
In 2011, Rolling Stone named Simon one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists,6 and in 2015 he was ranked eighth on its list of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time.
Simon was the first recipient of the Gershwin Award of Popular Song from the United States Library of Congress in 2007.
This discography does not include compilation albums, concert albums or work with Simon & Garfunkel. Simon’s solo concert albums often have songs he originally recorded with Simon & Garfunkel, and many Simon & Garfunkel concert albums contain songs Simon first recorded on solo albums.
Simon has a few songs that appear on compilation albums and nowhere else, such as “Slip Slidin’ Away” which appears only on the compilation albums Negotiations and Love Songs (1988) and Greatest Hits, Etc. (1977).
Solo studio albums
The Paul Simon Songbook (1965) Paul Simon (1972) There Goes Rhymin' Simon (1973) Still Crazy After All These Years (1975) One-Trick Pony (1980) Hearts and Bones (1983) Graceland (1986) The Rhythm of the Saints (1990) Songs from The Capeman (1997) You're the One (2000) Surprise (2006) So Beautiful or So What (2011) Stranger to Stranger (2016) In the Blue Light (2018)