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Music

The reason why Art Garfunkel called Paul Simon an "idiot" and a "jerk"

@josephtaysom

Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon conjured up magic together as Simon & Garfunkel, however, despite the abundance of chemistry between them on-stage, their off-stage relations was a drastically different story. With tensions often reaching boiling and subsequently spilling over, Garfunkel once went as far to call his former bandmate an “idiot” and a “jerk”.

While both musicians were still in their teens, the two met and began performing together in 1956 across New York City, playing under the particularly uninspired name of Tom & Jerry. However, after a few releases, they split before reuniting several years once the folk boom picked up, and the duo decided to cash in on the craze under their new guise.

In 1963, the duo became regulars of the bustling Greenwich Village music scene, and their performances ultimately caught the attention of Columbia Records representative Tom Wilson, who also worked closely with Bob Dylan.

With momentum growing, Simon & Garfunkel’s debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., arrived the following year, but success remained out of reach, and they again went their separate ways with Simon fleeing to England.

Astonishingly, a new version of their track ‘The Sound of Silence’ became a hit that persuaded the duo to give it one more shot. Over the next four years, they became one of the most in-demand acts on the planet, and their final album, 1970’s Bridge Over Troubled Waterconfirmed their seat at the top of the musical table.

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Breathtakingly, despite the mounting success, they called it a day at the peak of their powers, and Garfunkel has constantly found it difficult to resist pondering the idea of what could have been. While they’ve taken part in various lucrative reunions over the years, the pair never decided to return to the studio.

Simon made the decision for the duo to split in 1970 and later admitted: “At that point, I just wanted out”. Anything was possible for the pair, and it’s a decision that Garfunkel labelled as “very strange” when speaking to the Telegraph in 2015. He said: “I want to open up about this. I don’t want to say any anti-Paul Simon things, but it seems very perverse to not enjoy the glory. Crazy. What I would have done is take a rest from Paul, because he was getting on my nerves. The jokes had run dry”.

Garfunkel scathingly continued: “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?”.

These comments made their way back to Simon years later, who ruled out the possibility of ever reuniting with Garfunkel again. He admitted: “Quite honestly, we don’t get along. So it’s not like it’s fun. If it was fun, I’d say, OK, sometimes we’ll go out and sing old songs in harmony”.

He added: “That’s cool. But when it’s not fun, you know, and you’re going to be in a tense situation, well, then I have a lot of musical areas that I like to play in. So that’ll never happen again. That’s that”.

Seemingly, when they are put together in a creative cauldron, the relationship of Simon & Garfunkel instantly obliterates. Admirably, for Simon, he physically can no longer put himself through that torture and needs to put his sanity first, which doesn’t feel like a move an “idiot” or “jerk” would make.

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