Old Friends

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February 9th 2005
Published: February 9th 2005
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Bicyclists in Norfolk brave the almost freezing temperatures.

Yesterday a coworker passed the “Garden State” soundtrack over the cubicle wall to me and I was reminded once again of how awesome Simon & Garfunkel were by the inclusion of the track “The Only Living Boy in New York.” I never got into the whole “Live in Central Park” bit, I mean who really cares about these two guys reuniting to sing the same songs that they had recorded together a decade before. I guess in some ways S&G were the forerunners of the current plague of rock & roll reunion tours, heck I think they’re even on another reunion tour as I write this.

But it’s just that one dang track, Art Garfunkel out in left field singing high, layered harmonies, Paul Simon bemoaning the loss of his friend, off to Mexico to pursue his acting career, leaving him “the only living boy in New York.” As Jenn & I zipped along the HOV lane at rush hour yesterday I kept playing the track again and again until she finally said, “Enough already!” This morning while Jenn was in the shower I dug out my boxed LP edition of S&G “Collected Works” (scored at a yard sale for $2) to listen to the warm vinyl textures of Paul & Art. Dropping the needle onto the black circle, I felt again the adventurous embarassment of an adolescent enjoying his parents’ music collection. I knew that if the word got out at Riverside Junior High School that I actually liked Simon & Garfunkel that I would be permanently banished to the misfits, dweebs and dorks corner of the cafeteria.

My father screamed, “Turn that racket down!” as I blared the opening track of “Bookends” on the family stereo,

“But Dad, it’s Simon and Garfunkel!”

After a disgruntled pause came a harrumph, “...Well, you don’t have to play it that loud.”

There wasn’t much he could say. Even if there were roaring motorcycles, distorted voices and sirens in the background, it was, after all, Simon & Garfunkel. Two friends singing in harmony with a guitar, what could be objectionable about that? And it was, after all, my father’s own album.

I still can’t get over those harmonies, so tight & precise. On my best mornings in the shower my voice is transfigured from the range of Johnny Cash’s gravelly bass to Art Garfunkel’s angelic tenor. And then my reverie is interupted again,

“Honey, can you sing a little more softly? You’re scaring the dog.”


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