Simon and Garfunkel Greatest Hits
If there is one musical genre that is said to typify the latter half of the 1960s, it is folk rock. Blending the burgeoning, ever-transforming power of rock and roll with the grounded, earth-loving nature of folk music, folk rock sought to bring out the best of both worlds. Many American bands threw themselves either partially or fully into the genre, but only one band was said to define the genre, and that is Simon and Garfunkel. In 1972, two years after they had disbanded and gone their separate ways, they released their seminal album Simon and Garfunkel Greatest Hits. There is not a single track on the album that has not gotten played and wept over in a million teenage bedrooms, each one a classic that remains somehow both fresh and quintessentially of its time.
Film director Mike Nichols had fallen in love with Simon and Garkfunkel's music while shooting the film Mrs. Robinson and asked Paul Simon to write three songs to accompany the film. However, by the time film was ready to release, Simon, who was busy touring, had only written one. Unfortunately, Nichols did not like it, so Simon offered up a song he had worked on, a song that seemed to have nothing to do with the movie at all, a paean to American icons like Joe DiMaggio and Eleanor Roosevelt. After a quick lyrical swap from Roosevelt to Robinson, the deal was done, and the film and the song were inextricably linked ever since.
Simon and Garkfunkel's sound may have sounded beautifully simple, but it was the kind of simple that took a great deal of effort to perfect. They spent over 100 hours of studio time recording The Boxer, constantly experimenting with guitar tunings, microphone positions and chord patterns in order to capture the sound that they held in their heads. The wonderfully expressive lyrics deserved this kind of attention, as they featured a maudlin lament of a man unable to find work in the midst of a bitter New York winter. They scored themselves upon the mind of a generation and still possess the raw emotional power that modern pop fare could only wish for.
Bridge over Troubled Water
Simon was quoted as saying that the words for Simon and Garfunkel's most famous song, the best-known song of the folk-rock canon, emerged almost out of nothing. Evolving constantly in the studio under Simon and Garfunkel's trademark attention to detail and desire for perfection, Bridge over Troubled Water won Grammys for both Song of the Year 1971 and Record of the Year 1971. For many people, it was the record of a lifetime, speaking volumes about friendship, love and humanity.
The Sound of Silence
Written in the dark days that followed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, The Sound of Silence is Simon and Garfunkel's second most popular song after Troubled Water. The broody lyrics begin in a quiet, reflective mood and swell to an echoey, electrically driven near-symphony of sound. Simon had never wanted this arrangement, preferring the original acoustic approach.
Nobody was ever able to emulate the unique Simon and Garfunkel sound. The essence of their time, they disbanded in 1970, sealing the 1960s with a record that has never gone out of fashion since: Simon and Garfunkel Greatest Hits.