After the 1975 Grammy Awards, there was plenty of talk about getting back with songwriters called Paul.
Few acts in history have changed the face of culture while capturing the hearts of the masses in an inspired style, quite like The Beatles and folk duo Simon & Garfunkel. It would also seem that the fortunes of the two acts were inexorably linked, woven into place by the fickle fingers of fate.
The story goes that John had been on stage alongside Simon & Garfunkel at the awards ceremony. Afterwards, John invited Arty and David Bowie back to his Dakota Building apartment in what surely represents one of the kookiest smorgasbords of counterculture talent ever assembled in a single abode.
In an interview for the Beatles Stories documentary, Art Garfunkel regaled a tale of an after-party for the ages and one of music’s great what-if’s. “I have my great memory of John Lennon when I met him that one night with Yoko Ono and David Bowie,” Art explains, “It was the mid-70s, and we were coming back from some show we mutually did. So, we go back to the Dakota [John’s apartment], Bowie was with us. And John pulls me to the bedroom.”
Presumably, this call for privacy between the two former Paul co-opter’s left a coked-up Thin White Duke in the living room fervently discussing fascism with a spun-out Yoko gazing at the stars. All whilst the straight-laced Arty was mind-numbingly confounded by wonderment at finding himself coaxed into the intimate setting of his hero’s boudoir.
As the story unfurls, Art continues to discuss his humbled amazement at the situation, stating: “[John] Lennon’s bedroom! And we’d never met each other before!”
Art continues with his tale revealing a rather more tender and personable side to John than we are used to hearing about during this period, as he adds, “Incredibly disarmingly he said to me ‘Arty you worked with your Paul recently, I’m getting calls from New Orleans [which was where Paul McCartney recorded part of his Venus And Mars record at Sea-Saint studios] that my Paul wants to work with me and I’m thinking about it and I don’t know. How did it go when you worked with Paul [Simon]?’”
As if Art Garfunkel wasn’t flummoxed enough, he now had to contend with advising upon what would have been the biggest reunion in history since the continental plate of India collided with Asia and spawned the Himalayas. “He [was] measuring his situation, the great John Lennon with Paul McCartney!” Garfunkel modestly jokes, “With Paul and Arty, as if to make sure that my ego is fully established as a colleague of his!”
Under the burgeoning pressure of the situation, no doubt feeling the weight of a large nation’s worth of Beatles fans bearing down on his subconscious, Arty had to advise astutely. He wisely told him, “Remember that there was a music blend that was a great kick if you can return to the fun of that sound and the musical happenings with your old buddy and ignore the strands of the complications and history. What I found with my Paul was the harmony and the sounds happening on a full agenda, they’ll keep you busy, and you’ll have fun.”
So, what of the great what-if moments that remain. Was it just some dreamy fantasy for the world to enjoy in a post-party haze only to be forgotten the morning after? When asked about whether he thought Lennon was seriously considering it, Garfunkel replied, “I thought he [wanted to get back] the subject seemed very straightforward and uncomplicated. It really was a musical question and not a heavy personal question.”
It would seem that Arty was pretty much one of the only people in the entire universe who John could have asked about the situation, having also crafted an act of seismic influence, broken up and made the first remedial step, and he took his opportunity to do so. As we now obviously know, the cards of fate didn’t seem to fall the way that they appeared to be stacking up that fateful night in the Dakota Building.
Still, the interview represents a shimmering example of how culture is at the confluence where art meets with circumstance, and you can watch it for yourself below.