By all accounts, the Simon & Garfunkel reunion concert in Central Park should have been a disaster. Simon’s most recent project, the film One Trick Pony, had been a flop, while Garfunkel’s album Scissors Cut failed to break the top 50. Even worse, tensions from the duo’s old days resurfaced in the lead up to the concert. “Well, the rehearsals were just miserable,” Simon recalled in 1984. “Artie and I fought all the time.”
Despite the hostility, Simon & Garfunkel managed to pull it together in front of an estimated 50,000 people. Eager to see the New York boys return, the public greeted the duo warmly as they stepped out to perform their opening song, ‘Mrs. Robinson’. Any uncertainty was washed away once the pair began to sing, and quickly became clear that neither had lost the chemistry that made them such a potent act two decades prior.
Looking to create an experience rather than a concert, the duo gathered together some of their best loved songs from across both of their discographies. Simon threw in a few of his solo hits, including ‘Kodachrome’ and ‘Me and Julio Down By the School Yard’, while versions of The Everly Brothers’ ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ and Chuck Berry’s ‘Maybellene’ gave the set a throwback feel.
Still, nothing could compare to the classic Simon & Garfunkel songs. ‘America’, ‘Scarborough Fair’, and ‘The Boxer’ showed how magnetic the pair could still be with little more than their voices and Simon’s guitar, while Garfunkel got a triumphant solo spotlight as he belted out ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. When the duo sang “And in the naked light I saw / Ten thousand people maybe more” in ‘The Sound of Silence’, the roar that erupted from the crowd solidified the night as a success.
But even while the sun was still up, the duo could still affect. All it took were the gentle fingerpicked patterns of ‘Homeward Bound’ to rile the crowd into a frenzy. Harmonising like they never stopped in the past 20 years, Simon & Garfunkel are so locked in that it could only be described as magic. The pair certainly felt the same way and agreed to a reunion tour shortly thereafter. The good feelings didn’t last, but the undeniable blend of their voices was impossible to ignore at one of Central Park’s most famous concerts of all time.
Check out the performance of ‘Homeward Bound’ down below.