Bridge Over Troubled Waters - Simon & Garfunkel Skipping Decades

By Mary Campbell
Associated Press
The Stars & Stripes

ART GARFUNKEL is a little distracted and a little excited. He's about to tour with Paul Simon — their first tour together in the United States in 13 years.  Also, he's just "found" something.

"I'm so keyed up," he says. "This morning, I think I found the harmony that is just what I want for Cars Are Cars All Over the World. I'm on the tips of my toes with the sense of readiness to see if I can slip it into the tape the way I want."

Then Simon walks into his manager's Manhattan office, carrying a handful of clippings about a personal triumph — the time he stole home and his high school baseball team won the game.

"My high school baseball coach retired. I sent him a gold record. He sent me all this stuff," he says.

"I had two big interests in high school. One was playing baseball; one was playing rock 'n' roll. The coach was not a big fan of my rock 'n' roll. He didn't want me to miss practices to play it."

Harmonizing songs written by Simon, the duo had some of the biggest hit records of the 1960s: The Sound of Silence, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Mrs. Robinson, Scarborough Fair.

Some new songs will be interspersed with the old classics during the tour, which began July 19 in Akron, Ohio. Their Think Too Much album for Warner Brothers Records, with 10 new Paul Simon tunes, will be out in August. "Paul is writing so great now," Garfunkel says. "His lyrics are better than ever."

In 1970, they had a farewell concert as a duo in Queens, where they'd met as fourth graders. Each went on to solo careers, making records and appearing in movies. They reunited in September 1981 in Central Park. That concert was made into a live recording and a TV show, both distributed worldwide. Since then, they have toured Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

 "The show really had so much of the old stuff," Garfunkel says. "We hadn't been working together so we hadn't worked up new songs.  

"I feel you can't do nostalgia again two years later. If we did the same thing now we would be saying: 'We haven't developed since two years ago. Otherwise we would be showing it to you.'" This time, with the live concert album so recent and a new studio album, there probably won't be a live album."

But since cameras will be rolling during the tour, another TV special may emerge.

Garfunkel is looking forward to touring the United States. "To take on the challenge of this tour, which is about a big, happy evening, throws you into life. It gets the adrenaline going; it's a good, healthy shot of being engaged. Frankly, it is useful for me to do this around now. I'm excited. I'm vulnerable. I take nothing for granted."

But surely a Simon and Garfunkel reunion tour couldn't fail. "I think you can fail," Garfunkel says.

"They like us. But if we don't come through that night they can walk away disappointed with that performance, and that's no good."

We've got to be potent in the present tense."

Simon has spent the last two summers writing songs for the new album.

"They weren't written for both of us to sing," he says. "We have to solve the problem of singing these songs with two voices that weren't written with that in mind. I think it gives us more interesting solutions to two-part singing.

"They're not as harmonically uncomplicated as they were in the '60s, when we last sang together.  Simple two-part harmony doesn't apply as much as it did then.

"I think they have a unifying tone but I can't really describe it. It just feels like the songs are about that period of time that I wrote about. The cast of characters is sort of returning, the same people and situations I write about."

Simon usually writes on Long Island, where he plans to have a house built. Garfunkel, who likes to ski, plans to look for a house in the French Alps after the tour.

Will they continue as the team?

"We're skipping decades," Simon says with a grin. "We were together in the '60s, took off the '70s.  Don't expect anything from us in the '90s. There's a big show coming in the year 2000. Let's hope we're all here. If we are, it'll be for free."