For the Serious Young Thinker
Cedar Rapids Gazette
February 15, 1967
Paul Simon, the poetic half of the folk-pop duo Simon and Garfunkel, recently called the field of musical comedy a dying idiom because of the lack of change over the last 30 years in the musical stage. Referring to musical comedy as a possible field of future aspirations, Simon termed it in “terrible shape today; it’s very hack and very pallid.” “I think it’s going to be a dying idiom unless something new or fresh gets into it.”
Art Garfunkel. pursuing a doctorate degree in mathematics at Columbia university, cited teaching as a profession after the two finish what they are doing now. “I have a choice. That’s why I’m in school to prepare to teach someday. And I would like to do that,” he said. “Although, I don’t think I would like to live my life out as a teacher and do that for 35-40 years, I certainly would like my life to include that.”
Since Garfunkel attends school during the week, the duo only does concerts, mainly to college audiences, on weekends. They are now booked up solid, Friday through Sunday, until the end of May. The pair candidly talked about their careers and the field of music in general following Saturday’s sold-out performance at Coe college.
“We’ve complete artistic freedom; we produce our own records and we say whatever we please,” Simon pointed out. “And if they ever stopped me, I would quit. That’s how strongly I am against censorship of material.” Referring to their current best-selling album. “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”, Simon pointed to the fact that there are a lot of things which never get played on the radio because of how strong they are, but nevertheless are released by Columbia records. “Many areas never played ‘7 O’clock News/Silent Night’ —many did,” Simon said referring to a cut on the album. “Few people played ‘A Poem On the Underground Wall’ because of the lyric content, but I think they're wrong since those things are artistically put, they're valid and shouldn’t curtail the statement. There obviously are people who feel compelled to scratch something on a wall. They’re interesting to me, those people; there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be examined in song. There’s no reason, too, why people shouldn’t listen to it and hear the statements of it. It’s a fact of life.”
The Songs “A Poem On the Underground Wall” is a psychological description of people who write profanities on walls. It describes a person who whips out a crayon after a subway train has departed and scribbles on the wall. In “7 O’clock News/Silent Night” a news bulletin is read in accompaniment to the duo’s arrangement of “Silent Night”. Garfunkel referred to their records as basically a “small tight group built around himself, Paul and Paul’s guitar.” The two termed themselves as mainly pop singers rather than folk singers; Simon pointing out that “the folk music field has long passed its peak.” “In New York all the coffee houses, which used to support folk singers, have rock acts and the influence of folk music, strongly felt in the pop music, is not popular, nor do I see it coming back,” Simon said. “On records we like rock or pop, but in concert we’re closer to folk in style and I think the material is like folk. With the unamplified guitar you can hear the words better and to us the lyrics have the most important thing.”
Simon, who composes all the duo’s songs, emphasized that he was “not trying to create an opinion for someone else to take.” “I’m only looking at a situation, dissecting the situation and leaving it as dissected; in other words I’m trying to make the listener aware of the situation from the way I see it and let them add or draw from it what they will.” Simon noted that he “enjoyed writing, not as a job, but as a passion.” Singing, which started out as a hobby for the two, already has evolved into almost a fulltime business. The duo soon will release a new single. “ At the Zoo”, which Simon terms as not an animal song,” but an allegory about people.