Home Latest News Paul Simon’s friendship with Art Garfunkel destroyed by jealousy, ‘uneven partnership’

Paul Simon’s friendship with Art Garfunkel destroyed by jealousy, ‘uneven partnership’

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Paul Simon’s friendship with Art Garfunkel destroyed by jealousy, ‘uneven partnership’

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Paul Simon is reflecting on his legendary career in a new documentary, “In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon.”

The two-part series, available on MGM+, features Simon working on his 20th album, “Seven Psalms,” as he struggles with his hearing loss and voice issues. 

As he works, he opens up about his journey from Queens, New York, to his partnership and fallout with Art Garfunkel. He also details his struggles with fame and his brief marriage to Carrie Fisher before finding love with wife of 32 years, Edie Brickell.

Read on for the biggest reveals about his work with Simon & Garfunkel and more.

Close up on Paul Simon

Paul Simon reflected on his legendary career, including his fallout with Art Garfunkel, in the two-part docuseries “In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon.” (Michael Norcia/Sygma via Getty Images)

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Simon & Garfunkel’s Rise and Fall

Black and white portrait of Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon as Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel in 1964. (Columbia Records/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Simon and Garfunkel had known each other for years when they formed their duo and released an album, “Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.” in 1964.

The album didn’t initially do very well, and Simon went to London to pursue music on his own. A year later, Columbia Records producer Tom Wilson reworked their first single, “The Sound of Silence,” and the song took off. Simon returned from the U.K. and recalled that the week after he did, the song went to number one.

He knew his life “was irrevocably changed” at that point. 

Despite their early friendship, Simon recalled not only wanting to essentially be a solo artist for much of his career, but an imbalance in how he and Garfunkel worked as a team.

Art Garfunkel with his arm around Paul Simon

Simon explained that he and Garfunkel had “an uneven partnership” because he was the primary songwriter. (Columbia Records/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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“We had an uneven partnership because I was writing all of the songs and basically running the sessions,” Simon said in the documentary. “Artie’d be in the control room… he’d say, ‘Yeah, that’s good,’ but it was an uneven balance of power.”

After finishing their work on the score for “The Graduate,” the film’s director, Mike Nichols, gave Garfunkel a role in his next film, “Catch-22.”

That was the beginning of the professional rift between the duo, as Garfunkel missed much of the recording of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which became their final studio album.

As the dominant songwriter, Simon didn’t like the disjointed approach Garfunkel suggested to complete the album.

He recalled his partner saying, “‘I’m going to do movies for six months, then I’ll come back and you’ll have written the songs, and we’ll do the album.’ And I thought yeah, actually, no, that’s not going to happen, I’m not going to do that.” 

Asked if that wasn’t already happening, Simon said, “Yeah, but we were always sort of together. I was like ‘Oh I wrote a new song.’ It wasn’t like he came back and he said, ‘What’s the collection of songs over these last six months?’ As I was writing a song, I’d say ‘Hey what do you think about this?’ The main thing we were interested in, we shared.”

Production on “Catch-22” went longer than planned, further dividing the musicians.

“We had an uneven partnership because I was writing all of the songs and basically running the sessions… Artie’d be in the control room… he’d say, ‘Yeah, that’s good,’ but it was an uneven balance of power.”

— Paul Simon

“Everything got disrupted,” Simon said. “It was a recipe for the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel. It didn’t have the harmony of the friendship, that was broken.”

Audio from an interview with Garfunkel also plays throughout the documentary, sharing his side.

“I used to think when ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ was finished, well, we’re really on top of each other too much, and the grease and the machinery ain’t there and it’s creaking and we could use a break,” Garfunkel says. “And I certainly would love a little rest. But after a rest, I see a wonderful next album. He didn’t see it that way.”

Simon also admitted to a certain amount of jealousy over Garfunkel’s singing abilities, particularly when they performed “Bridge Over Troubled Water” live.

Simon recalled it would earn a standing ovation and he’d be jealous, thinking, “I wrote that song.”

He continued, “Or maybe it was my perfect Freudian trauma. My mother said to me once, ‘You have a good voice Paul, but Arthur has a fine voice.’”

After “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was finished, Garfunkel accepted another acting role in Nichols’ next film, “Carnal Knowledge,” which according to Simon, Garfunkel didn’t mention.

“And I said, ‘Well, why didn’t you tell me?’ And he said, ‘I thought you wouldn’t finish “Bridge Over Troubled Water” if I told you, so I decided not to tell you.’ And I think that really was the straw that broke the camel’s recording contract” Simon said.

Paul Simon holding a guitar while Art Garfunkel stands over him

Simon admitted to some jealousy over Garfunkel’s singing voice. (David Redfern/Redferns)

He continued, “This whole experience, the tension in the studio, if that was what the relationship was gonna be, to me was like, well I don’t want to be in that.”

Simon reflected, “That was a good friendship. That was a real first friendship of somebody that got it, for me. To turn into a person that I hope I never see again – that’s a long way.”

“This is my oldest friend and we experienced anonymity and then great fame and success and those things have their own pressure. It was five intense years of being a hit, and that’s close to the life span.”

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Central Park concert

Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon speaking at press conference

Simon and Garfunkel at the press conference before their famous Central Park concert. (Derek Hudson/Getty Images)

After their official breakup in 1970, Simon found success as a solo artist with albums like “Paul Simon,” “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon” and “Still Crazy After All These Years.”

He also began to dabble in acting, appearing on the second ever episode of “Saturday Night Live” (the first of many hosting and performance appearances), as well as a role in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall.”

In 1980, Simon wrote and starred in the film “One-Trick Pony,” and released an album of the same name.

The film was a flop, and when he was asked to do a concert in Central Park, he was hesitant, leading to a reunion with Garfunkel.

“I thought, well I just had this big flop. Maybe I should ask Artie to come and sing some songs on this. It’s Central Park, we’ll have to do more than 15 minutes. We’ll have to do like, you know, maybe half the show, and then I said if we do have the show, that means I’m going to have to open for Simon and Garfunkel… which I don’t want to do that, so let’s just make it all Simon and Garfunkel.”

According to Simon, roughly half a million people showed up and the duo played together seamlessly until he took a moment to perform his song, “The Late Great Johnny Ace,” inspired by the gun deaths of John Lennon and President John F. Kennedy.

Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon singing into microphones on stage at Central Park

Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon perform on stage, Central Park, New York, September 1981. (Michael Putland/Getty Images)

During the early moments of the song, a man ran on stage shouting that he needed to talk to Simon.

“I saw him get on the stage out of the corner of my eye. The thing that’s interesting about it is my band, they’re ready to jump in and like, Artie is sitting on the end… He was not taking a bullet for me” Simon recalled, laughing a little at the memory.

Security quickly removed the man and the concert continued to rave reviews.

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Reunion and permanent split

ARt Garfunkel and Paul Simon singing into microphones but facing away from each other

The success of the Central Park concert led to a brief reunion for Simon & Garfunkel. (Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

The Central Park concert’s success “sort of forced us into, or forced me into putting the group back together again and doing a tour,” Simon said.

He added, “We were famously antagonist[ic], but I thought you know what? I’m going to put all of that aside and just have a good reunited tour with Artie.”

Unfortunately, some of the same issues that impacted their partnership quickly arose again.

Simon recalled that he would write songs and work out the harmonies together, but this time Garfunkel wanted to have Simon send the songs and work on the harmonies on his own in Switzerland.

“It was a recapitulation of he’s in Mexico making [‘Catch-22’],” Simon said. “Well, now he wanted to smoke and walk through Switzerland and make up harmonies to these songs. And then he would send them back, and we would look at it and say, ‘What is this?’ It didn’t sound like the old Simon and Garfunkel. And I just said, ‘I can’t work this way.’”

He continued, “The break-up that occurred after ‘Catch-22,’ there was just a bandage put over it. But the bandage was such a luxurious bandage, the concert in Central Park… We forgot that, essentially, we were done as a team.”

“This whole experience, the tension in the studio, if that was what the relationship was gonna be, to me was like, well I don’t want to be in that.”

— Paul Simon

Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon sitting and smiling together

Simon said the same issues that broke up the duo in the first place resurfaced during their reunion in the 1980s. (Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

PAUL SIMON ANNOUNCES HE IS RETIRING FROM TOURING

Simon scrapped plans to have Garfunkel appear on his next album, “Hearts and Bones.”

Garfunkel said, “Paul called me one day, I was in New England. He said, ‘Artie I’m wiping all your tapes. I’m wiping your harmonies off all the album.’ Oh, you are Paul?”

Simon and Garfunkel reunited and toured a handful of times in the intervening years, but appear to be permanently done with each other.

In 2014, Garfunkel told Rolling Stone that he believed he and Simon would tour again, saying, “I know that audiences all over the world like Simon and Garfunkel. I’m with them. But I don’t think Paul Simon’s with them.”

A year later, he told The Telegraph, “”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?”

In 2016, Simon spoke with Rolling Stone, and when asked if there was a chance they’d reunite, he shut it down.

“No, out of the question,” Simon said. “We don’t even talk.”

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel leaning away from each other at a press conference table

In 2016, Simon told Rolling Stone he and Garfunkel “don’t even talk.” (Magnolia King/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

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Marriages and Fame

Black and white photo of Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher

Simon and Carrie Fisher were married briefly from 1983 to 1984. (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

In the first episode of the documentary, Simon discussed some of his discomfort with fame once he became a solo artist.

“I sort of liked it at first. At first, it was fun. I mean it’s about as unreal as you can get. And the inevitable, it turns into a thing that you wish you – you really don’t wanna be there,” he said.

“I’ve said it a lot, it’s just a poison, fame. A little bit of it makes you strengthened, you know. And a lot of it would kill you,” he added.

His reluctance to embrace fame played a role in his brief marriage to Carrie Fisher.

The couple wed in 1983 and divorced six months later.

Carrie Fisher walking with Paul Simon behind her

Simon admitted he wasn’t comfortable with fame, saying Fisher “was really good at it. And I wasn’t.” (Tom Wargacki/WireImage)

“Carrie was much more show business oriented. And I went along with that,” he recalled. “That’s the world she grew up in. She was used to it, used to a lot of press and things like that. It wasn’t intimidating or anything. She knew how to manipulate it, make it work for her. She was really good at it. And I wasn’t.”

Fisher joked about the relationship in a clip played during the documentary, saying that she was a “good anecdote, bad reality” for Simon.

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Finding love with Edie Brickell

Paul Simon and Edie Brickell posing together

Simon and Edie Brickell have been married since 1992. (Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)

Simon had been married twice, first to Peggy Harper from 1969 to 1975, sharing one son, and briefly to Fisher, before meeting singer Edie Brickell.

Brickell was performing on “SNL” in 1988 when she noticed Simon standing next to one of the cameras.

She recalled having first seen him on an album cover and having “shivers down the back of my neck” so when she saw him in person mid-performance, she lost her place in the song.

“I forgot the song. So, by the end of the song, I’m repeating myself. And you can see me spin around to say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’ to the band,” Brickell said.

Simon said, “I didn’t mean to distract her, nor did I think for a moment that she would be paying any attention to me at all.”

Edie Brickell and Paul Simon performing on stage together

Simon addressed his age gap with Brickell, noting they were initially hesitant about being together. (Kris Connor/Getty Images)

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After she got off stage, Brickell remembered they kept talking on set and were “shushed” by Lorne Michaels. 

Brickell was 22 when she met a then 47-year-old Simon.

She recalled being warned, “When I first started dating him somebody warned me, ‘Don’t date him, he’s arrogant. “And I said, ‘How do you know? You don’t know him. It’s from the media.’ It’s from what this person had read.”

There was also the issue of their age gap, which Simon acknowledged, saying, “I don’t know who asked first ‘How old are you?’ The both of us were shocked at the answers, you know? It was like a moment where we thought, ‘Well there goes a good idea.’”

However, they “hit it off,” according to Brickell, and eventually married in 1992. 

The couple have three children, Adrian, Lulu and Gabriel, all of whom are musicians, as is his son from his relationship with Harper.

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