SIMON & GARFUNKEL by Victoria Kingston

SIMON & GARFUNKEL

The Biography
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KIRKUS REVIEW

With childlike adoration and prose to match, a British radio host and newspaper columnist has a go at Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s intertwined careers. The two singers were born in 1941 and grew up together in Queens, New York. Billed as Tom and Jerry, they had a minor hit (—Hey Schoolgirl—) at age 16; after college, as themselves, Simon and Garfunkel cut an indifferently received album in 1964. Simon then went off to England for a few months, where he played the folk circuit and released a solo album; this period receives exhaustive comment here. When an overlooked song, —The Sound of Silence,— started getting airplay half a year after its release, Simon and Garfunkel suddenly became big stars, which they remained until they broke up in 1970. Nearly all their songs were Simon originals, and Kingston describes them with inadvertently comical doggedness. Sample commentary, on —Keep the Customer Satisfied—: —As he wails, —I—m so tired,— we—re aware that, at the same time, Paul Simon was indeed tired.— While the author spoke to a number of good sources, including Garfunkel, her account is heavily weighted with seldom revelatory quotes from previously published interviews. Kingston scrupulously allots the same tenderly useless song-by-song attention to both the non-songwriting Garfunkel’s forgettable solo albums and Simon’s sophisticated, self-penned, hit-packed oeuvre. By the same token, One Trick Pony, the abysmal film Simon wrote and starred in, is treated as politely as Garfunkel’s entirely more reputable acting credits, Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, and Bad Timing. Kingston trails the pair through their initially triumphant early ’80s reunion concerts and the sessions for the intended Simon and Garfunkel album that became a Simon solo project when the reunion fizzled. Why did that happen? As throughout, the author’s worshipful distance combines with both of her subjects— admirable disdain for airing dirty laundry to produce only the most glancing insights. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 29th, 1998
ISBN: 0-88064-193-2
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998