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Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel first came together in 1957 under the name Tom and Jerry, but rose to fame as Simon & Garfunkel almost ten years later, mostly due to their hit "The Sounds of Silence" (1965). Both men were childhood friends growing up in Queens, New York a few blocks away from each other.
With the release of "The Sounds of Silence," Simon & Garfunkel became one of the Trope Codifiers of folk-rock alongside The Byrds. The song was also their first hit on the pop charts, reaching the number one spot on New Year's Day in 1966. Their later hits included "Scarborough Fair/Canticle," which combined the English folk ballad "Scarborough Fair" with an anti-war poem sung in counterpoint, "Homeward Bound" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Later, their fame took an ever bigger boost when their music was used in the film The Graduate, which not only included their older songs (which was rare at that time for film) but also new material like "Mrs. Robinson."
Simon is by far the more well known of the group. After their breakup, he went onto a successful solo career, while Garfunkel is still best known for his efforts with the band, although he's also known for singing the Theme Song of Watership Down. They have broken up several times, and reunited over the years. Most famously, they came together for The Concert in Central Park, which drew a crowd of over half-a-million.
They/Their work feature examples of:
- Aerith and Bob.
- Album Title Drop: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. A bit of an inversion, as the title comes from the lyric itself (the lyric being from the traditional song "Scarborough Fair").
- From "Old Friends": "Old friends / Sat on a park bench like bookends."
- American Title: "America"
- Anti-Christmas Song: "Seven O' Clock News/Silent Night"
- Big Applesauce: "Bleecker Street", "The Only Living Boy in New York", "The 59th Street Bridge Song", and their triumphant 1981 live album, The Concert in Central Park
- Book Ends: The aptly-named pair of "Bookends Theme" songs on the aptly-named Bookends album aptly bookend the A-side of the album.
- Breakaway Pop Hit: "Mrs. Robinson" from The Graduate
- Something of an inversion, as Paul Simon only wrote the chorus for the movie and they didn't bother finishing and recording the complete song until after the movie had become a hit.
- BSOD Song: "Patterns"
- Concept Album: Much of Bookends is tied together with the themes of aging and decaying love. Also, it has that song from The Graduate on it.
- Dying Town: "My Little Town"
- Driven to Suicide: The subjects of the songs "Richard Cory" and "A Most Peculiar Man".
- Either or Title: "A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara'd Into Submission)"
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Voices of Old People". It's old people talking about stuff.
- Executive Meddling: A positive example of this is responsible for the duo's entire career. Short history: they first released "The Sounds of Silence" in 1964 in a completely acoustic version on their debut album. Said album tanked, then the two split and Simon moved to England. A year later, The Byrds spearheaded the folk-rock movement with their electrified covers of Bob Dylan songs. Sensing an opportunity, in June 1965 Dylan's producer Tom Wilson took the original backing track and overdubbed electric guitar, bass and drums, borrowing members of Dylan's backing band. Not bothering to consult either Simon or Garfunkel, the new version of the song was released as a single and slowly climbed up to #1. Simon returned from England, reunited with Garfunkel and the two went on to more success.
- Though they only agreed to if the execs promised they'd never pull a stunt like that without telling them first.
- Folk Music: More so on their earlier material.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In A Simple Desultory Phillippic:
I been Ayn Randed, nearly branded
Communist, 'cause I'm left-handed.
That's the hand I use...well, never mind.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: This is most notably expressed in "The Only Living Boy in New York" which is basically about Paul missing Art (the "Tom" in the song; in the early days when they performed as "Tom and Jerry," Art was "Tom") when the latter went to Mexico to film Catch-22.
- Hypocritical Humor: "A Simple Desultory Phillipic"
He's so unhip when you say Dylan
He thinks you're talking about Dylan Thomas
Whoever he was.
The man ain't got no culture
- "I Am" Song: "I Am a Rock"
- I Just Want to Be You: "Oh, I wish that I could be Richard Cory."
- In the Style Of: Their early recordings as Tom and Jerry were a inspired by the Everly Brothers' sound (whose song "Bye Bye Love" was covered on the Bridge over Troubled Water album).
- Intercourse with You: "Cecilia", "Baby Driver"
- Lesser Star: Former Trope Namer. Art Garfunkel has been characterized as the junior partner in the duo, and there is truth in that, as Simon both played guitar and wrote all the music while Garfunkel only sang. However, Garfunkel had the better voice and Simon and Garfunkel's harmonies were the reason for their unique sound, and Art Garfunkel had a big role in the vocal arrangements. (One way to appreciate Garfunkel's role in the group is to listen to Paul Simon's "American Tune" and then listen to the Simon and Garfunkel version recorded during the concert in Central Park).
- Live Album: The Concert in Central Park
- Lonely At the Top: "Richard Cory"
- Lyrical Dissonance: "I Am A Rock", "The Sun Is Burning"
- Name and Name
- Never Be Hurt Again: "I Am A Rock" describes the feelings of someone who doesn't want to love anymore because they were hurt by it once.
- New Sound Album: Their debut, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, had more of a traditional acoustic folk sound; the second album, Sound of Silence, was where they shifted to more of a rock instrumentation and approach.
- One-Woman Song: "Mrs. Robinson", "Cecelia", "Kathy's Song", "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her"
- Putting the Band Back Together: More than once. The duo reunited for a single song, "My Little Town", in 1975. In 1981 they came together for a free concert in Central Park, New York City, which drew a crowd of over 500,000 people. This led to a world tour and their first new album in over a decade--until Simon mixed Garfunkel's vocals out of the album completely and released it as a Paul Simon solo album titled Hearts and Bones. In the 1990s the duo toured together briefly, and in the 2000s they reunited again and toured extensively.
- Refrain From Assuming: "Feeling Groovy" is actually "The 59th Street Bridge Song," but few people remember that
- Repurposed Pop Song: "The Sounds of Silence" was used during the film adaptation of Watchmen. It is also the opening song for The Graduate, which also uses "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" several times.
- "At the Zoo" was used for advertisements for the Bronx Zoo and the San Francisco Zoo in the late 1970s, though this may overlap with Isn't It Ironic? due to the song being more of an allegory for human nature. However, Paul Simon himself later repurposed the song in the form of a children's book with the same title.
- Rockumentary: Simon and Garfunkel: Songs of America is a rather unique television special that aired on CBS in 1969. Much of the special is a fairly conventional rockumentary featuring interviews with the duo, footage of the duo working in the studio, and film from the 1969 tour. This portion includes Early Bird Cameos of "The Boxer", "Bridge Over Troubled Water", and "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright". The rest of the film is a series of montages of the social and historical upheavals of The Sixties (civil rights protest, Robert Kennedy's funeral train, etc), with Simon and Garfunkel songs as the musical accompaniment.
- Singing Simlish: "The Boxer" and its "Lie la lie" chorus.
- Single-Stanza Song: "Bookends"
- Soundtrack Dissonance: "Seven O'Clock News/Silent Night". Big time.
- Something Completely Different: On Bridge over Troubled Water, "Baby Driver" (a silly little Intercourse with You song in great contrast to the very serious tone of most of the other songs) and "Bye Bye Love" (an Everly Brothers cover, and possibly a Call Back to their earlier years as "Tom and Jerry").
- On Bookends, there's "Voices of Old People", which consists of people in a New York City retirement home making conversation with Art Garfunkel.
- The Something Song: "The 59th Street Bridge Song" and "Kathy's Song"
- A Storm Is Coming: inverted in "The Sun is Burning"
- Take That: "A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert Mc Namara'd into Submission)" is a rather savage Bob Dylan parody.
- This Is a Song: "Song for the Asking"
- Updated Rerelease: "Wednesday Morning, 3 AM" and "Somewhere They Can't Find Me" are more or less the same song, though the former is done as a folk ballad while the latter is poppier and begins with a bit of "Anji".
- The Cover Changes the Meaning: "3 AM" is a melancholy reflection from a man taking comfort in his lover's company one last time before the law takes him away. "Somewhere They Can't Find Me" adds new lyrics in the form of a chorus (including the title line) and changes the instrumentation to angry rock, making it sound like the singer is about to flee, unrepentant. Especially amusing in that the same band released both the original and the cover.
- Vocal Tag Team
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Very much a type 1, as anyone who's watched Paul snipe at Art onstage can verify.
- Wanderlust Song: "And we walked off/To look for America"