Thursday, June 14, 2012
40 Year Itch : The Reunion
Days after Elvis played four sold out shows at Madison Square Garden, Simon and Garfunkel reunited there for a seven song performance on behalf of Democratic Presidential candidate, South Dakota Senator George McGovern. The break up of S and G was one of those demarcations of the end of the Sixties. Simon has said Art's movie career ( Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge) and personal differences led to the break up right after they released their most critically acclaimed album Bridge Over Trouble Water.
The concert took place the same day Simon and Garfunkel released their Greatest Hits album, which would go on to sell 14 million units. Also on hand, a reunited Peter, Paul and Mary, comedy duo Mike Nichols and Elaine May, and movie stars like Dustin Hoffman and Paul Newman.
Nixon blew away McGovern in the election by winning more than 60% of the popular vote and every state but Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.( The subsequent Watergate scandal inspired bumper stickers saying "Don't blame me – I'm from Massachusetts").
Madison Square Garden, New York Performance:
El Condor Pasa
Medley: Cecelia / Mother and Child Reunion / Bye Bye Love
Scarborough Fair / Canticle
Bridge Over Troubled Water (Paul sings last verse along Artie)
16 months later Rolling Stone's Ben Fong Torres interviewed Garfunkel about the concert:
What motivated you to do the reunion with Paul on behalf of McGovern?
There were also the reunions of Peter, Paul and Mary and of Nicholas and May. That’s why I did it, I loved the show. It appealed to my showmanship. Much more that McGovern ever could to my politics. It’s selfish, I suppose. I loved the idea of those three acts; I thought it would be a terrific
Who approached you?
I do believe in the lesser of two evils, and in that spirit I became a McGovern supporter.
How’d you feel onstage?
It was strange, non-experience. It was the first time I had sung with Paul onstage in quite a while. We had ostensibly broken up and we were doing this thing together. And I did think beforehand that it would be a kick, some kind of novel experience, and yet after about three bars into the first song I had a very strong feeling. “Well here we are again. This is where I left off.”
How was the relationship between you at that time? Were you cordial, anxious to see each other after two or three months?
Yes. We’re anxious to see each other when we see each other.
How did the decision come for Paul to sing a verse of “Bridge over Troubled Water”?
(Swirling his gin and tonic) Interesting question. (Long pause). He said that was an idea he wanted to do. He thought that would be good. I don’t know what you want me to say. Cut me open and look at all my contradictory reactions to uh, do I think it was a good idea? Do I trust? Do I sense an ego trying to subtract from my ego? It’s the kind of thing I don’t want to get into, really. Things work in relationships and things don’t work, because they’re usually petty s--t. Examinations of why things don’t work, negative things, can be lessons, or enlightenment to people who were carried along on the strength of your feelings about the unity of people through the unity of Simon and Garfunkel. Beyond the words of the songs, I felt that S and G projected the hopefulness of an ongoing friendship as a sort of public message. I liked that about S and G. But then there are even deeper needs.