Electric guitars played through a stack of Marshall amps. Double bass drum sets. Ten piece horn section. Taurus bass pedals. Are those powerful? You bet they are. However, as long as I’ve been going to concerts, I’ve always noticed that nothing is as powerful, nothing can make your spine tingle as much as the power of the human voice. Nothing can give you a chill like a perfect note by one of those great voices. It still does it for me every time.
Art Garfunkel has one of those sets of pipes. His reading of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” is one of the greatest songs ever written, but it’s truly one of the greatest songs ever sung. The best I ever heard him sing it was oddly enough on the Late Night with David Letterman Show. It had to be about 15 years ago now. Artie was the musical guest, and like nearly all guests, I expected him to do something current. As he was introduced I heard those first few piano notes that into the classic tune. I was quite surprised as he then walked out to the stage.
I’d never heard him hit the crescendo in the song as he did this time. It was an absolute moment. I’ll never forget it. I’m surprised it’s not on YouTube somewhere.
The Concert in Central Park was actually a comeback concert for Simon and Garfunkel. It’s somewhat hard to believe that they only released five studio albums and the last was in 1970. So It had been quite some time since they had hit the stage together.
When they did, they decided to take a pretty darn good band with them as well. Any group that includes Richard Tee, Steve Gadd and Anthony Jackson is going to groove.
19 songs are on the album, 22 are on the video that was released. If I have one complaint about the project is that I would love to have heard “El Condor Pasa” and a little less Paul Simon solo material. If Paul had so many solo tracks (I count five) then Art should have been able to add “All I Know.” He does perform his great ‘”A Heart in New York City.”
Otherwise everything you want is here. I you’ve never seen the video of this show then do yourself a favor and grab it. (Or watch the playlist below, most of the album is there.) It’s a moving selection of music, and I fine tribute to a pair of musicians that are as much New York as the Central Park that they stood in back in 1981.
- “Mrs. Robinson” – 3:52
- “Homeward Bound” – 4:22
- “America” – 4:47
- “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” – 3:22
- “Scarborough Fair” (traditional, arr. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel) – 3:52
- “April Come She Will” – 2:37
- “Wake Up Little Susie” (Felice and Boudleaux Bryant) – 2:19
- “Still Crazy After All These Years” – 4:04
- “American Tune” – 4:33
- “Late in the Evening” – 4:09
- “Slip Slidin’ Away” – 4:54
- “A Heart in New York” (Benny Gallagher, Graham Lyle) – 2:49
- “Kodachrome/Maybellene” (Simon, Chuck Berry, Russ Fratto, Alan Freed) – 5:51
- “Bridge over Troubled Water” – 4:48
- “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” – 4:23
- “The Boxer” – 6:02
- “Old Friends / Bookends Theme” – 2:57
- “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” – 2:01
- “The Sounds of Silence” – 4:13
- Paul Simon – guitars, vocals, triangle
- Art Garfunkel – vocals
- David Brown – guitars
- Pete Carr – guitars
- Anthony Jackson – bass guitar
- Richard Tee – keyboards, piano
- Steve Gadd – drums, percussion
- Grady Tate – drums, percussion
- Rob Mounsey – synthesizer
- John Gatchell – trumpet
- John Eckert – trumpet
- Dave Tofani – saxophones
- Gerry Niewood – saxophones