Will I do another tour with Paul? Well, that’s quite do-able. When we get together, with his guitar, it’s a delight to both of our ears. A little bubble comes over us and it seems effortless. We blend. So, as far as this half is concerned, I would say, ‘Why not, while we’re still alive?’ But I’ve been in that same place for decades. This is where I was in 1971. How can you walk away from this lucky place on top of the world, Paul? What’s going on with you, you idiot? How could you let that go, jerk?
Simon & Garfunkel is the break-up that keeps on breaking, forty-five years later. The duo first parted ways in 1970, but they’ve fallen out repeatedly over the decades. Again and again, the pair split to pursue solo projects. Garfunkel labors in Simon’s shadow for a while, until his partner deigns to share the spotlight again.
The real problem for Garfunkel, of course, was also his smartest move: he hitched his cart to one of America’s most talented songwriters. That was a boon to their 60s partnership, but Simon inevitably outgrew their folk-duo schtick. He established a fruitful solo career, then produced Graceland, arguably the best album of the 1980s.
Apart from Simon, meanwhile, Garfunkel had little to offer besides his airy tenor. The quotation above, recorded earlier this month, smacks of envy and insecurity.
On the other hand… maybe that underestimates Garfunkel’s savvy. Is it possible that he intentionally exaggerated his antipathy towards his former partner? As Paul Simon once admitted, “To a degree, [our hostility] is a setup. When groups break up people always assume they break up in bitterness. So we play on the comic possibilities.”
Is there any chance that Garfunkel hoped that the press would print “Paul Simon is an idiot” headlines (as they have)? That this is some elaborate scheme to drum up attention for yet another long-awaited reunion? The two haven’t performed together since 2010, when vocal paresis sidelined Garfunkel indefinitely. Maybe this is the precursor to one “last” set of tour dates, now that he’s recovered. A little rancor, followed by one last chummy reconciliation, would sell more tickets.
Occam’s Razor suggests that Artie’s just bitter. And he’s definitely waxed ungrateful before. Consider his Rolling Stone interview back in 2014:
It takes two to tango. I don’t want to be the blushing bride waiting for Paul Simon to walk down the aisle. … I know that audiences all over the world like Simon and Garfunkel. I’m with them. But I don’t think Paul Simon’s with them. … It’s an ingrown, deep friendship. Yes, there is deep love in there. But there’s also shit.