Classic Rock Corner

Classic Rock Corner: Simon and Garfunkel's Live 1969

When Art Garfunkel tells audiences on he and Paul Simon's 1969 tour that the duo has just finished a new album, those clapping had no clue that by the time Bridge Over Troubled Water came out, the former childhood friends would have split acrimoniously and wouldn't regularly share the stage for another 13 years.

What you don't get on this new CD is much variation from the songs' recorded versions. Simon doesn't break out a blazing electric guitar solo on "I Am a Rock," and Garfunkel doesn't turn into a blues shouter on "Bridge." However, it is interesting to hear the audience reacting to a tune that - as iconic as it is now - hadn't been released at the time.

Still, many these live versions come off warmer or more lively than their studio counterparts, with the help of a crack backing band: "Homeward Bound," "Mrs. Robinson" and "The Sound of Silence" - ironically, on that song, it was producer Tom Wilson's instrumental add-ons that gave the duo its first hit. Only "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" fares worse, becoming a too-earnest folk dirge like a parody from A Mighty Wind.

Elsewhere, Simon and Garfunkel - reportedly mulling one final reunion jaunt, according to Rolling Stone - break out some catalogue rarities such as "Song for the Asking," a jaunty "Why Don't You Write Me" and "Leaves That are Green," as well as a fine cover of Gene Autry's "That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine."

Bottom line: Live 1969 is for the listener already an S&G fan, and provides a great glimpse of the pair at a creative peak but personal valley.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero