Thursday, June 17, 2004

Simon& Garfunkel like old friends to many fans


Iconic musicians' songs provide a soundtrack for area fans' memories and emotions

By C.E. Hanifin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

From "April Come She Will" to "A Hazy Shade of Winter," the songs of Simon and Garfunkel have helped define the seasons of their fans' lives.

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, whose folk-rock tunes captured the feelin'-groovy spirit of the '60s, split in 1970. Their music has reached subsequent generations through greatest-hits compilations, oldies stations and countless pop-culture references, providing important touchstones for the lives of their fans.

The duo, which reunited for a tour last year, has hit the road again this summer. They will perform Sunday at U.S. Bank Arena, giving devotees another chance to hear live versions of their favorite tracks for the first time in decades.

Some local fans shared their stories about the Simon and Garfunkel songs that appear on their personal soundtracks, and the memories cued up by the tunes.

'Cecilia'

Folk musician Jake Speed of Clifton says Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits album helped him to endure and survive high-school homework. He put on the record every time he sat down to study trigonometry.

"I could think mathematically with that album on," he says.

Speed, 26, loved hearing the bouncy opening notes of "Cecilia", and not just because it was his favorite track.

"That's the last song. It meant homework was done," he says.

'Bridge Over Troubled Water'

Each summer when Abbey Greenwald of University Heights was a kid, her parents packed up the family and their Simon and Garfunkel tapes for road trips. For Greenwald, one of the duo's signature songs always brings back those vacations in their VW Vanagon.

"I just remember driving though the mountains in Colorado and listening to Simon and Garfunkel," says Greenwald, 22. "Now, every time I hear that song, I think about my family."

'For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her'

"That's my all-time favorite," says Becky Benson, 52, of Northside, who listened to Simon and Garfunkel's music as a college English major.

"To me, it evokes the memory of a girl you see across the room and go, 'Oh my gosh,' " she says. "Whenever I hear that song, I'm 23 again."

Benson calls the lyrics of "Emily" and the musicians' other works "modern-day Shakespeare."

"They're word masters," she says.

'America'

When Scott Higgins was 17, he was reluctant to venture too far away from his home in West Chester Township - until he caught a local musician performing a version of Simon and Garfunkel's ode to the open road.

"Hearing that song changed my life," says Higgins, 25, who is a member of the local rock band Picture Show. "It made me not scared to travel."

Since then, Higgins has visited New York City, the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state and other far-flung destinations.

'The Only Living Boy in New York'

Tom Buhler, 48, of Northside, got into Simon and Garfunkel right as the two were breaking up in 1970, so it's appropriate that his favorite song would be one that Simon wrote about the end of his creative partnership with Garfunkel.

Buhler says he was thrilled when the number, "an obscure song on the Bridge Over Troubled Water album," turned up on the set list of Simon and Garfunkel's show in Cincinnati last year.

"I'm such a fan, it was practically a spiritual experience," he says. "I just never expected to hear them perform it together."

'The Sound of Silence'

Mary Kay Work, 47, of Northside, has never considered herself a big Simon and Garfunkel fan; she prefers progressive, new wave music. So she was surprised by how she felt as she watched the two musicians play the song together on a television special earlier this year.

"When I saw them reunited, singing 'Hello darkness, my old friend,' it brought up a lot of emotion in me," she says.

"I got all teary. It was pretty incredible to have that reaction."

Work says she discovered that the power of the duo's music transcends the decade in which they recorded it.

"They had more of an impact than a lot of us realized."

E-mail chanifin@enquirer.com




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