The Late Movies: Simon & Garfunkel's Concert in the Park

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31 years ago today, Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel reunited for a concert in Central Park. It was September 19, 1981, and the concert was free -- the plan was to use TV and home video royalties from the performance to renovate Central Park itself, which was in bad shape at the time. New York mayor Ed Koch only came around to the idea of the concert after proposing that the park simply be closed. After "Homeward Bound," Simon ironically thanked Ed Koch, garnering boos from the crowd and a smirk from Garfunkel. It became clear that Simon was joking when he proceeded to thank the guys selling "loose joints," suggesting that half their proceeds would go to the park that night.

Roughly ten years after this concert, Paul Simon returned for a solo performance. I wrote about Simon's Concert in Central Park a few weeks back -- well worth a look if you're a fan. Now settle back, watch the sunset, and enjoy.

The Full Concert

Here's the entire concert in one video. The playlist, complete with start times:

01/ Mrs. Robinson 0:01:20
02/ Homeward Bound 0:04:40
03/ America 0:09:04
04/ Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard 0:13:40
05/ Scarborough Fair 0:17:10
06/ April Come She Will 0:20:55
07/ Wake Up Little Susie 0:23:15
08/ Still Crazy After All These Years 0:25:40
09/ American Tune 0:29:30
10/ Late in the Evening 0:33:45
11/ Slip Slidin' Away 0:38:00
12/ A Heart In New York 0:42:45
13/ The Late Great Johnny Ace 0:45:10
14/ Kodachrome/Maybellene 0:49:30
15/ Bridge Over Troubled Water 0:54:40
16/ 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover 0:59:30
17/ The Boxer 1:03:50
18/ Old Friends 1:10:25
19/ The Sound Of Silence 1:13:20
20/ Late In The Evening 1:19:40

There is an odd moment just after 48:30 when Simon mentions John Lennon's death while performing "The Late Great Johnny Ace" for the first time in public. The song is a tribute to Johnny Ace, JFK, and John Lennon. Lennon had been murdered the year before, nearby, and his ashes were scattered in Central Park. During the performance, a man rushed the stage, yelling "I need to talk to you!" and very nearly reaching Simon. The man was hurried offstage by security guards, and Simon finished the song, only mildly rattled.

"Bridge Over Troubled Water"

Because this is a Late Movies post, I've gotta come up with some more videos. So here we go with greatest hits from this performance. The standout for me is this rapturous performance by Art Garfunkel. I literally get chills listening to it. Get ready, folks:

"The Boxer"

There's a sweet moment in the first verse when Garfunkel gets ahead of Simon. They smile and carry on. But it's clear from this (and other parts of the show) that they were suffering from serious disagreements -- the men rarely even look at each other.

"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"

I can never hear this song without thinking about The Royal Tenenbaums. That's a good thing, in my book.

"The Sound of Silence"

"We'll make our own fireworks." Damn straight.

What are Your Favorites?

Share your favorite Simon & Garfunkel performances in the comments. Also, this concert is out on DVD and CD if free YouTube videos aren't your thing. Also well worth a read: Wikipedia's page on the Concert in Central Park.

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September 19, 2012 - 6:00pm
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