SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: Who was responsible for the split ?


Who is responsible for the break up of a relationship, the person who finally gave up and walked out, or the other person? While Simon & Garfunkel started out as school chums performing together since their early teens, by the time of their Grammy winning final studio album, their philosophies on making music had gone in different directions. Simon considered himself a poet of the times, who wanted to release things quickly, as well as make political statements. Garfunkel was a perfectionist, who didn’t care how long it took to make an album. He was also against some of the politics. Simon wrote a song for Bridge Over Troubled Water called, “Nixon No, Cuba Si”, but Garfunkel refused to have it on the album.

I think another factor was that Simon may have been a little jealous of Garfunkel’s movie career. They were both cast in the film Catch-22, but Simon’s part was cut out before filming began. I think Simon was also resentful that he was doing the writing, the guitar playing and half the singing, but Garfunkel who was only doing the singing was getting half the credit.

Ultimately, I think that Garfunkel wanted to stay together, but Simon was happier going solo. In fact, following the Concert in Central Park, they almost had a reunion studio album. During their tour of 1983, they performed about four songs from the album. Unfortunately, Simon got frustrated with how long it was taking Garfunkel to work on the album, and he released it as a solo album instead, the album being :Hearts and Bones.” Incidentally, that is my favorite Paul Simon solo album, probably because I feel that it is more in the style of Simon & Garfunkel than his other solo works.

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The person who was responsible for formally dissolving the partnership was Paul Simon. He went to the Head of CBS records, Clive Davis, and told him he didn’t want to be a part of Simon and Garfunkel anymore. Davis tried very hard to persuade Simon not to split with Garfunkel, but the songwriter did not change his position. Famously, he told Paul, “You will never be as big as Simon and Garfunkel on your own”.

In a general sense, as other people have said, they were both responsible for the breakup. Garfunkel’s foray into the world of film when he got a part in the movie “Catch 22”, directed by Mike Nichols, put a lot of pressure on the duo’s relationship. This was compounded when Simon discovered Garfunkel had signed for another film with Nichols, “Carnal Knowledge” , without his knowledge.

There were many other reasons. To name one, creatively, they were separating. Simon wanted to go in other musical directions. Garfunkel was not so keen to change a winning formula.

It was not their first break up. When they were teenagers, they had a small hit with “Hey Schoolgirl”. Without telling Garfunkel, Simon got a solo record deal. They only got back together 5 years later when Simon helped to get a record deal with CBS and “Wednesday Morning 3 am”, was made.

There were several reunion tours after the group split up in 1970 . A couple of songs were recorded, notably “My Little Town” but, apart from live albums, they did not record again.

Simon and Garfunkel’s acrimonious break up was nothing new in the world of popular music . Even though it is nearly 50 years since their split, the duo’s work has endured. People feel a real fondness for their music.



Simon and Garfunkel wanted to be the Everly Brothers, which is fine. The Beatles wanted to be the Everly Brothers too. But with success comes the time when you say, “Okay, we’ve been the Everly Brothers. What else can we be good at?” For Simon and for Garfunkel, the answers— based on their individual talents— were quite different. It looks is if the split was inevitable.

That said, the stories in the press seem to indicate that Simon was more immature about handling the demands and pressures of the partnership than Garfunkel was.


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