In a new documentary, “We Had an Uneven Partnership,” Paul Simon describes his “broken” friendship with Art Garfunkel


In the MGM+ documentary “In Restless Dreams: The Musical Career of Paul Simon,” Simon recalls his old Simon & Garfunkel collaborator, saying, “That were a real first friendship.”

A performance by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel in January 1990 in New York City. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES/LARRY BUSACCA

Paul Simon explains the reasons behind the dissolution of Simon & Garfunkel.

In the first segment of the recently released film In Restless Visions: the Songs of Paul Simon, the 82-year-old singer discusses the circumstances leading up to the successful duo’s 1970 breakup.

When it comes to his 82-year-old friend and former bandmate Art Garfunkel—whom Simon says he has known since elementary school—we were truly closest friends up to Bridge over Troubled Water. The friendship had been dissolved, therefore there was no longer the harmony.

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel in 1957. Archives of Michael Ochs and Getty Images/James Kriegsmann

Garfunkel was offered a role in the film Catch-22 after finishing his musical score for the 1967 picture The Graduate, and it was his acceptance of the position that started the argument. “Artie stated, ‘Yes, this is how it’s going to work: I’ll make movies for a period of time, after which I’ll return, you’ll be working on the songs, and we’ll work on the album.'” To which I replied, ‘Yeah? Well, not at all. That is not going to occur. “I’m not going to do that,” Simon remembers.

The singer-songwriter claimed that before the recording of their fifth and last studio album, the two had a “uneven partnership.” Artie was usually in the mixing booth with [producer] He Halee, and he would say, “Yeah, that’s good, let’s do that,” but there was an uneven power dynamic. “This is the manner in which it states, which is the guitar part, you ought to be playing this on the drums, and the bassist should be doing this,” he says. “We were in an uneven relationship due to the fact that I wrote all of the music and essentially running the sessions.”

Simon claims in the documentary that Garfunkel’s departure for the “half of Bridge over Troubled Water” to star in a film was different, even if he always did the writing. We spent a lot of time together. It wasn’t as if he returned and asked to hear the new songs that she had written in the previous six months. I used to ask myself, “Hey, what do you feel about this?” as I was creating a song. The primary area of interest that we had in common was this.

The cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s album Bridge Over Troubled Water. GARFUNKEL AND SIMON

Even though Garfunkel was only meant to be shooting for six weeks, their relationship deteriorated as a result of the lengthier shoot. “The film ended too soon. “You need to return.” “No, I can’t since we have to film in Mexico this week.” Send me a list of what you accomplished, and I’ll send it down. That’s not good at all. These two things need to be changed. Simon describes it as if everything was upended. It was a surefire recipe for Simon & Garfunkel’s dissolution.

Simon recalls that when they sang “Bridge across Troubled Water” live, the audience “leapt up” to acclaim Garfunkel’s performance. At that moment, Garfunkel thought, “I wrote that song.”

Simon was over his friendship with Garfunkel, whether it was from fatigue or the “Freudian trauma” of his mother telling him, “You have an okay pronunciation, Paul, but Arthur had a fine voice.” My oldest friend and I went through periods of invisibility, enormous prosperity, and fame—all of which had pressures of their own, he recalls.

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel at the 1971 Grammy Awards. The Bettmann Archive

Is it me or is Paul the individual who did not allow Garfunkel to further his own career? is a question that Garfunkel poses in a taped interview from an earlier era that is shown in the documentary. To form a group, two members are required. To be a jerk, two people are required.

“That was a good friendship,” Simon remarks at the conclusion of the first episode. That was someone’s actual first friendship that they understood. It’s a long way for me to change into the person who hopefully I never meet again.

You may stream the first part of In Restless Visions: The Music of Paul Simon now on MGM+. On Sunday, March 24, the second part will debut.


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