John Benson
The Chronicle-Telegram

Bob Dylan may have been the epitome of American folk rock in the '60s, but Simon & Garfunkel touched the mainstream with their intricate vocal harmonies, gentle melodies and sing-along anthems.

It’s ironic then in the case of the legendary duo that such vocal harmony could come from a relationship filled with such disharmony.

However, that wasn't always the case for Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, who went from childhood friends in Forest Hills, N.Y., to major recording artists in the mid-'60s. Their five studio albums—with more than a half-dozen era defining singles—provided the Vietnam War generation with a lasting -soundtrack to the uncertainty and social commentary that dominated the headlines.

While the twosome split up in 1970, the ebb and flow of their friendship resulted in numerous reunions over the past 30 years, most notably a massive Central Park concert 22 summers ago. Forever linked, their relationship today still bears scars, yet another casualty of their fame.

"We're both individuals with strong senses of autonomy," Garfunkel told USA Today "I just think the world of Paul He's a terrific guy and a terrific musician. If one of us was weaker, more tan-colored, it might not be such a problem. But two people etched in confidence will bring richness to the mix." 

Simon added, "We broke up because we wanted to be ourselves. Ifs typical of partnerships, of duos. Being in a duo is a discipline, and at a certain point, you want to be free, you know? It wasn't so much that I wanted a solo career; it was that there was other music I wanted to
pursue, where I didn't have to say to someone else, 'Should we go to Jamaica and record a ska song?'  My writing opened up in ways that led me all over the place, and that further fixed us on separate paths."

As the Baby Boomer generation ages with nostalgia remaining their No. 1 pastime, perhaps the recent announcement pertaining to the Simon & Garfunkel reunion "Old Friends" tour, which plays Monday at Gund Arena, is based more on celebration than closure.

While the door remains open for future recordings, the truth is another 'studio album isn't really what their fans have in mind. Instead, the hits —"The Sound Of Silence," "Mrs. Robinson," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Homeward Bound," "Scarborough Fair," "A Hazy Shade Of Winter," "The Boxer," "America" and "I Am A Rock" — are why people will be flocking to relive an era and once again hear the harmonies that have been silent all these years.

"We're more concerned about staying true to the emotional memory of Simon & Garfunkel than we are about note-for-note fidelity to the recorded arrangements," Simon said. "There's real value in being able to connect with your generation again and we're looking forward to that".