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Simon & Garfunkel

Simon, Garfunkel reunite after 20 years


Ask Art Garfunkel how he and Paul Simon came back together last year to tour as Simon & Garfunkel for the first time in 20 years, and Garfunkel points to the announcement that the duo in February 2003 would receive a Grammy award for lifetime achievement.

That seems like an all-too-simple explanation for how one of the longest-awaited reunions of recent pop history occurred — especially considering the complex and often thorny relationship Simon and Garfunkel have had ever since they first came together more than 40 years ago.

But Garfunkel insisted this was not, like many reunions, one that was brokered through long negotiations between lawyers and managers. It really was as simple as the right occasion coming along.

"We needed a third element, a piece of business, an offer, a person, a bridge (to reunite)," he said. "We needed a piece of business that we could mutually engage in. So that Grammy thing was so easy to say 'Yes, I'll show up and say thank you. And I bet Paul will, too. Maybe we should sing.' So all of that just fell out organically."

The duo performed "The Sounds Of Silence" at the Grammy ceremony. They enjoyed the experience, and soon the wheels went in motion to arrange last fall's highly successful reunion tour.

Now Simon and Garfunkel, both 62, are returning for a summer tour, and recapturing once more a musical magic that began when the met at school in Queens, New York when they were 11.

They went on to record six albums between 1966 and 1970 (if one includes the soundtrack to the movie, "The Graduate,") before breaking up after the landmark 1970 album "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

By then, Simon & Garfunkel had become one of the most recognizable and influential acts in rock history, with the duo's silky harmonies wrapping themselves around a collection of richly melodic, emotionally evocative songs ("The Sounds Of Silence," "The Boxer" and "Homeward Bound," to name a few) that bridged the gap between folk and pop.

Since then, Simon & Garfunkel had attempted a few reunions, beginning with a historic 1981 concert at New York's Central Park, and a 1983 tour that eventually fell apart amid a good deal of tension. Later, there had been a performance in 1990 when the duo was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a string of shows in New York City in 1993.

Despite their time apart, Garfunkel said he and Simon didn't have much trouble rediscovering their vocal chemistry once they began rehearsing for last fall's tour.

"We fell back into step as if we learned our moves way back in junior high school together, and the old cliché, once you know how to ride the bicycle, it doesn't exactly leave you," Garfunkel said.

But what was more notable, Garfunkel said, was rediscovering the personal chemistry the duo had enjoyed, especially early in their career.

"It was a delight to me to fall back into that," Garfunkel said. "Recently I was talking to somebody about the power of humor. Humor is like the power of religion. It's heavy, it's transcendent. When there's a conflict and a nitty gritty rubbing of the machinery between people in life, humor is the thing that lifts you up and beyond it.

"When humor is really ironic and goes to the point that is paradoxical and very funny and quizzical, you're thrown beyond the deadlock. You're in a transcendent place," he continued.

"Me and Paul are very clowny, have al-ways been that way from junior high school. This is the secret of Simon & Garfunkel. Mr. Simon is an extremely witty fellow. He's very inside, and he's so damn funny, with faces to match.

"He's a character. The world doesn't know this, but I've always known this. He gets me going as a foil and I'm funny myself. And the essence of this friendship is screwing around verbally ... We love a good laugh ..."

If reviews of last fall's concerts were any indication, that camaraderie, though, didn't always appear to translate to the concerts themselves. Many critics noted that Simon & Garfunkel did not interact much on stage and did not reveal the warmth and happiness that fans undoubtedly hoped to see.

Garfunkel said that impression was mistaken and largely a product of the nature of a Simon & Garfunkel live performance.

"I can tell you that performers when they're making music are very engaged with what their ears hear" he said. "We are very, very hard at work, we performers. So when you see us, you're looking at very heavy concentration on the mix, the working of the microphone, the listening to the guitar, the wondering if the drummer is a little bit ahead of the beat. The ears are keenly, keenly at work. There's no real time to think about presenting a pleasant face. That's a much more distant reality for a performer, presenting a pleasant face. We couldn't be bothered with it. There's too much happening in the ears."

Simon & Garfunkel perform June 26 at Savvis Center, 1401 Clark Ave. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $195, $87.50 and $53.

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