When the decade of the 70s dawned, many popular groups from the Supremes to the Beatles, changed leaders or completely split. Simon & Garfunkel decided to the same, but at least they went out on a high point. Their LP, Bridge Over Troubled Water, hit #1 as well as title track, which spent 6 weeks at the top and became a worldwide success. But as much as we knew they hated each other, we knew they couldn’t stay apart.
S&G would get back together many times, but in the early 70s, no one knew when and if they would perform together at all. Then, the first reunion happened merely by accident. Paul was visiting Art in the studio while he was recording his 2nd album, Breakaway. Rhymin Simon broke out his guitar and played Art a tune that he wrote specifically for him. It told the story of a young kid growing up in the middle of Nowheresville, with nothing to do but ride your bike past the factories which belched filth into a sky filled with monochromatic rainbows. The boy tells this story as ‘twitches like a finger on a trigger of a gun’, ready to leave his boring town for a better life. The chorus would reveal, ‘nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town‘. Art’s sweet tenor would be juxtaposed against a boy’s boring, mindless, ignorant life he yearned to flee.
But I guess those two started singing together and thought, ‘Let’s do this one together, like the old days.’ They released it as a new Simon & Garfunkel, but released in their respective solo albums as it hit #9 in late 1975. It would be their final Top 10 hit and a weird one to go out on. Musically though it was top-notch. The choral refrain may have been one of the most depressing ones to hit the Top 10, but the music gave you no hint to that. Starting off with a low piano lick, S&G softly take us through their ‘little town’ building their climactic muscle with the Mussel Shoal Horns, until their screaming about the dead & dying with an insistent downbeat snare hit.
Light years from the Sounds of Silence and a nice coda to their career…