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$136 bux man, ouch!

Simon & Garfunkel heading out on the road again

Associated Press

New York — Fans couldn't help but be curious last fall when Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel strode onstage to open their reunion concerts with the song Old Friends.

Old friends, yes. But still friends?

The boyhood chums have been famously estranged through the years, the classic example of a duo that made sweet music onstage and hit sour notes when the lights went down.

Now, however, "my friendship with Artie is back to where it was when we were 12 years old," Simon says. "We're laughing and kidding around all the time. It's a lot of fun."

Agreed Garfunkel: "We are remarkably like brothers in our musical calling and our senses of humour."

Without good vibes, Simon & Garfunkel undoubtedly wouldn't be going out on the road again this summer, starting June 10 in Albany, N.Y. The $64.5-million (U.S.) in ticket sales for the first leg of the Old Friends tour probably helped their mood, too.

They may be friends again, but that doesn't mean they always see eye to eye. In the course of two interviews, they disagreed on whether Simon & Garfunkel has a recording future, a touring future beyond this summer and whether a change in their show for Europe was politically motivated.

Last fall, during the song America, a video montage ran on screens behind the two singers, showing images of the U.S. during the past 40 years. That will be either changed or eliminated when the tour moves to Europe.

"It's what an artist does when he feels the name of his country speaks too loudly and too provocatively (that) it pushes the music aside," Garfunkel said, somewhat cryptically. He wouldn't comment further.

Simon said it will be altered to be more appropriate to Europeans.

"It's not a political statement," he said. "It's a geographic reality."

The singers' repertoire is kept strictly to the Simon & Garfunkel recordings, except for Simon's early 1970s solo recordings Slip Slidin' Away and American Tune. Trying to balance the duo material with more solo work would have been too difficult, Simon said.

"It's particularly appropriate now to stay locked into a time capsule, because it has a lot of resonance," he said. "The power of the elapsed time adds emotion to the songs. A lot of these songs, even back then, were dealing with the passage of time."

Simon was in his early 20s when he wrote a line in the song Old Friends about being 70. The idea that he's performing the song at age 62 "is still shocking to me," he said.

Simon spoke from his office in the Brill Building, a legendary location for songwriters during the 1960s. His walls were covered with old posters and album covers, along with the New York Yankees fan's impressive collection of baseball memorabilia.

Garfunkel talked at his three-storey apartment off New York's Central Park, shortly before leaving on a trip to continue a walking tour of Europe.

Preparing for the show was difficult in an odd, unexpected way, Simon said. Most people think of Simon & Garfunkel as two singers, one guitar. But the old recordings usually had full bands. The challenge to update the sound while being true to the fans' memories. The duo travels with a seven-piece band.

The tour gave Simon a greater appreciation for what Garfunkel's voice meant to his music.

"The sound of the two voices is unique," he said. "The fact that the Everly Brothers are part of the show really connects us to our beginnings. Just the fact of duo singing is a powerful thing. It's gone."

Between the Everly Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel and John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles, the sound of two voices blending to make a sound distinct from each alone is a powerful thing, he said. It sounds shocking today because no one is doing it, he said.

"I find Paul at his absolute best," Garfunkel said. "He is a benign papa, with that same considerable talent and a beautiful work ethic. I love people who respect their work."

Seeing the duo isn't a cheap date. The average ticket price for a Simon & Garfunkel show last fall was $136.90, well above the industry average of around $50, according to Pollstar magazine.

"It's a hard subject," Garfunkel said. "It puts me on the defensive. I didn't make the ticket price. I'm involved in it, my profit is related to it. Am I squeezing the American people? Well, if they show up and say we're happy to buy your ticket price and come see the show, who am I to say you shouldn't be happy?"

Garfunkel said he's had great fun with the reunion, which he called "an open-ended experience." The idea of new recordings from Simon & Garfunkel is "a very interesting and feasible possibility," he said.

That may be wishful thinking.

Although they're preparing a CD and DVD recording of their Madison Square Garden from last fall, Simon doesn't expect any new music from the duo.

"I think we're about what we were," he says, not what they could be in the future. Simon is halfway through a new album, an intriguing partnership with soundscape engineer Brian Eno.

He also predicted it would be the last time on the road for Simon & Garfunkel.

"If it was an ongoing act where there was new material being recorded and you were working that into the repertoire, maybe there would be some justification," Simon said. "But I think this is a good example of the music that we made and I don't really see any powerful reason to do it again, because we did it. It's not a Shermanesque declaration. It's just how I feel."

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so far, this and the who in toronto (01?) are my two biggest regrets missing...

it would be worth every penny and more to see these guys...i HOPE they come back to Ontario again. I will NOT make the mistake of trying to buy tickets too late...i can't believe they sold out every ticket in ACC in only two weeks after going on sale!

I listened to a boot i downloaded off STG from their last tour, they sounded absolutely magical.


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so far, this and the who in toronto (01?) are my two biggest regrets missing...

Funny,I was saying that over the weekend,how I regretted not getting tickets for Simon & Garfunkel.If they make it back this way,I'll definatley be going,the shows I've heard from the last tour are amazing in my opinion and honestly,when I listen to those guys I am reminded of my childhood years in Binbrook and also of traveling around Ontario with Stace,both of which are very good memories and ones I have no problem recalling over and over again.They so often become a soundtrack for me and the scenery around me while traveling or canoeing in Algonquin park.

Great music & worth every penny to me.

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