The following is a guest post from Music Division Contract Archivist Janet McKinney.
Can you imagine us years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy…
Seventy years ago today on October 13, 1941, Paul Simon was born. Three weeks later, Arthur Garfunkel was born on November 5th. The two would grow up in the same neighborhood in Queens, a mere three blocks apart. By the time they were in middle school they were close friends, singing together as often as possible. These early years served as the foundation of what would become a significant and inspiring musical collaboration.
The history of the Simon and Garfunkel legacy can be traced back here, to the Library of Congress. The first song Paul and Art wrote together, “The Girl for Me,” was submitted for copyright in 1956. Their first record charting hit, “Hey, Schoolgirl,” was sent in the following year. Hundreds of songs would follow, submitted under the names Tom Graph, Jerry Landis, Paul Kane, Paul Simon, and Arthur Garfunkel. In 1996 The Graduate, whose soundtrack featured some of the duo’s most popular songs, was placed on the National Film Registry, and in 2006 the Graceland album was named to the National Recording Registry. Most recently, in 2007 Paul Simon was the first recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. A gala dinner was held in his honor as well as a tribute concert where both Simon and Garfunkel performed. The Music Division is home to a vast collection of books, copyright deposits of music manuscripts, recordings, and films documenting the history of both Simon and Garfunkel.
The concept album Bookends was released in 1968, and “Old Friends” is as poignant today as it was over 40 years ago. Simon and Garfunkel’s music endures time, and the two men have left an indelible mark on American music and culture.
Perhaps to these old friends, seventy doesn’t seem so terribly strange anymore.