Saturday, November 8, 2014

Simon & Garfunkel, The #62 Artist of the Seventies*

Some groups are so talented they can make our list with one album in the decade.  The Beatles did it with one album in 1970 and scattered single releases afterwards, and The #62 Artist* did the same thing.  One of the most popular duos of all-time rattled off 12 hits in the 60's, including classics such as "The Sound of Silence" and "Mrs. Robinson", then split after the studio album Bridge Over Troubled Water in 1970.

By 1969, Art Garfunkel had begun a career in acting, and the relationship between he and Paul Simon had deteriorated.  In fact, their album was supposed to include twelve tracks, but the two couldn't agree on the twelfth one, so there were only eleven songs.  "The Boxer" had already been released and gone on to great things in 1969, prior to the time eligible for this special.

The title song exploded upon release, reaching #1 on the Popular chart for six weeks and topping the Adult chart as well, and also hitting #1 in the U.K., Canada, New Zealand, and France.  It has now sold over six million copies, and is one of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era*.

The follow-up, "Cecilia", continued the momentum by going all the way to #1 in the Netherlands, #2 in Germany, #4 in the United States, and #6 in both Australia and Austria.  Like its predecessor, "Cecilia" went Gold.

Next, Simon & Garfunkel released the single "El Condor Pasa", which did far better in Europe, as evidenced by its #1 standing in Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, and Austria.  It only peaked at #18 in the U.S.

But the album had already taken off, and it has been in the stratosphere ever since, going to #1 on the Album chart and selling by last count eight million copies.  It is one of The Top 100 Albums of the Rock Era*.

Most great albums go far beyond their single releases, and Bridge Over Troubled Water is no exception.  There's a live cover of "Bye Bye Love" that the duo recorded in Ames, Iowa that is included on the album.  Fittingly, later reunion concerts by Simon & Garfunkel included bringing the Everly Brothers on stage for historic performances of the song that featured two of The Top Duos of the Rock Era*.

Another fan favorite from the album is "Keep The Customer Satisfied".

Just like acts such as the Who have many good songs that weren't hits, this fantastic duo does as well. We will feature a few more cuts from this amazing album.  This one is "The Only Living Boy In New York".

The duo closes the album with "Song For The Asking".

When it came time to present the Grammy Awards, Simon & Garfunkel were up for the major awards Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year, the latter two for the title song.  They won all three, quite a send-off to their career, and they also captured Grammys for Best Contemporary Song, Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists, and Best Engineered Record.

If the pair did nothing else, the phenomenal success of their final studio album would have garnered them a spot in The Top 100 for the Seventies*.  But there's more to the story.

In 1972, Columbia Records released Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits.  Of course, most of the material was from the 60's, but the label released "America" as a single.  It only reached #97 at the time, but the shortsightedness of radio at the time can be overlooked, seeing as fans have taken to the song in increasing numbers.

Another outstanding track revived by the album was the "live" version of "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" featuring Garfunkel's amazing vocal.

The compilation has now sold over 14 million; of course as stated, most of the material is from the 60's, so those sales do not count in compiling the rankings--we only count sales from their 70's material.

Simon went on to a highly successful solo career, and Garfunkel too has had his share of hits on the Adult chart along with appearances in films.

Unlike some groups, including the Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival, these two were able to reconcile for brief but memorable reunions.  In 1972, they performed at Madison Square Garden for U.S. presidential candidate George McGovern, and they appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1975.

While they were at it, Simon & Garfunkel stopped off at the studio and recorded the single "My Little Town".  The song appeared on both Simon's album Still Crazy After All These Years and Garfunkel's album Breakaway, and reached #9 on the Popular chart, but was a #1 hit among Adults.

The pair then recorded the single "Wonderful World" along with James Taylor in 1977, another #1 Adult smash.

Simon & Garfunkel famously held a free concert in New York City's Central Park in September of 1981 before an estimated 500,000 fans, although many who were there put the figure much higher than that. 

They have reunited for highly successful tours since and have recorded other hits in the 80's and beyond.  In 1990, Simon & Garfunkel were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2003, the popular duo received the Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Simon & Garfunkel sold ten million albums from their work in the Seventies, and scored six more hits, with half of those going Top 10 and their #1 classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water", plus they provided many more Top Tracks* from their one studio album in 1970.  

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