In September of 1981, a planned Paul Simon solo concert turned into a generation-inspiring event when Simon invited Art Garfunkel to join him onstage in Central Park. Half a million people gathered on the Great Lawn to witness the historic reunion.
The resulting album is a lovely, touching document of the event and a hell of a batch of songs, too. It has a charmingly rough quality, including some flubbed verses and musical stumbles, which only serve to highlight the spontaneity of the show.
Simon & Garunkel kicked off the encore with today’s SOTD, a medley of ‘Old Friends’ and ‘Bookends Theme’ from their penultimate album, Bookends. Despite the rocky path of their friendship, it’s clear the two men still share a comfortable camaraderie.
I knew this album before I owned any of the Simon & Garfunkel records or Simon’s solo work. This was my introduction to such great songs as ’50 Ways to Leave Your Lover’ and ‘Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard,’ which I assumed were S&G songs due to their inclusion here.
Sat on their park bench like bookends
Newspaper blowing through the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes
Of the old friends
Winter companions the old men
Lost in their overcoats
Waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settle like dust
On the shoulders of the old friends
Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy…
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears
Time it was
And what a time it was
It was a time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you