ART GARFUNKEL: Why did his solo career fail, while Paul Simon’s was very successful?

A member writes:

I agree with everyone who said it’s wrong to say that Art Garfunkel’s career is a failure. The way i understand the question is that it’s asking about why Paul has been more successful than Art. It’s not a criticism of Art. It’s unavoidable, i guess, for any comparison as solo artists to raise ideas about to who the success of Simon & Garfunkel was owed. i understand that but i can’t really compare them as if they are in the same category. Simon and Garfunkel was a duet group who did songs written by Simon. Without Garfunkel it would have been a different animal, it was an extremely successful group, the sound and feel they generated together. Their voices complemented each other and they delivered the songs so brilliantly and they’re timeless, it’s always good to hear those songs, done by them.

Paul had a much more successful solo career than Art. Art didn’l fail, for reasons others have said. He may have had to struggle with seeing himself as a failure, a head trip, he was in and out of recording and performing throughout the 70s, sometimes more out than in, maybe related to relationship struggles? i don’t know but Paul was more ready to launch his solo career, his albums in the first half of the 70s were very successful, top 5 on US Billboard ranking, Still Crazy After All These Years was at #1, There Goes Rhymin Simon was at #2 i think, and his first 3 albums were in the top 5. Lots of new songs for people to enjoy, like before.

He wasn’t just more successful than Art, he was more successful than most other musicians who went solo, there was a market hungry for his sound and his lyrics , he didn’t need a duet to be extremely popular. He’s pretty much been out there his entire career. in 2016, i went to his Farewell Tour in Hollywood. It’s the first time i ever saw him live.

Paul and Art are different acts, and when they were a duet, that was a different act from each of them separately, extremely popular, because of their sound, their ensemble, but also because of their songs, words and music. Also, i almost forgot to mention Paul’s guitar playing. it’s beautiful, and contributes to the experience of the songs. If Simon and Garfinkel had been doing covers of other popular songs instead of wonderful original songs, would they have been as popular just because of their sounds? i don’t think so.

Sounds of Silence was a song that, if done by someone else, some other decent singer/guitar player, with Tom Wilson producing the record at Columbia and adding some electric sounds and drums to the originally all acoustic song, then it probably would have still been a huge hit , because of the lyrics—and the times in which the song was released, what they audience was relating to and needing from their artists. Paul was a very inspired songwriter. When he went solo, he kept creating songs. New fresh songs, and they continued to go to number on billboard top 100, or to the top 5.

Again, Paul isn’t just more successful than Art. He’s more successful than most artists. He’s worked hard at it, he is writing, playing out, creating, compulsively, when he first went solo, Art wasn’t doing that. He was less successful in the music business than Paul because he’s not Paul. He hasn’t failed, but it can’t be easy to come down from being as popular as Simon and Garfunkel were, to being way less popular. It’s not that he isn’t good but when he first stopped doing Simon and Garfunkel, he didn’t keep working, he took a long break. When he came back, not being a songwriter, he didn’t have that resource inspiring him creatively. He’s a musician, his instrument is his voice, he sounds great when he sings. he doesn’t have the energy level to become a mega star by himself.

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