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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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Pop Culture
How Phil Collins Accidentally Created the Sound That Defined 1980s Music
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Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Unless your technical knowledge of music runs deep, you may have never heard the phrase “gated reverb.” But you’ve definitely heard the effect in action: It’s that punchy snare drum sound that first gained traction in music in the 1980s. If you can play the drum beat from “I Would Die 4 U” by Prince or “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen in your head, you know what sound we’re referring to.

But that iconic element of pop might not have emerged if it wasn’t for Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins. As Vox lays out in its new video, the discovery was made in 1979 during the studio recording of Peter Gabriel’s self-titled third solo album (often called Melt because of its cover art). Gabriel’s Genesis bandmate Phil Collins was playing the drums as usual when his beats were accidentally picked up by the microphone used by audio engineers to talk to the band. That microphone wasn’t meant to record music—its heavy compressors were designed to turn down loud sounds while amplifying quiet ones. The equipment also utilized a noise gate, which meant the recorded sounds were cut off shortly after they started. The result was a bright, fleeting percussive sound unlike anything heard in popular music.

Gabriel loved the effect, and made it the signature sound on the opening track of his album. A year later, Collins featured it in his hit single “In the Air Tonight,” perhaps the most famous example of gated reverb to date.

The sound would come to define music of the 1980s and many contemporary artists continue to use it today. Get the full history of gated reverb below.

[h/t Vox]

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entertainment
‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ Could Have Been a Meat Loaf Song
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Keystone/Getty Images

Imagine a world in which Bonnie Tyler was not the star performer on the Royal Caribbean Total Eclipse Cruise. Imagine if, instead, as the moon crossed in front of the sun in the path of totality on August 21, 2017, the performer belting out the 1983 hit for cruise ship stargazers was Meat Loaf?

It could have been. Because yes, as Atlas Obscura informs us, the song was originally written for the bestselling rocker (and actor) of Bat Out of Hell fame, not the husky-voiced Welsh singer. Meat Loaf had worked on his 1977 record Bat Out of Hell with Jim Steinman, the composer and producer who would go on to work with the likes of Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand (oddly enough, he also composed Hulk Hogan’s theme song on an album released by the WWE). “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was meant for Meat Loaf’s follow-up album to Bat Out of Hell.

But Meat Loaf’s fruitful collaboration with Steinman was about to end. In the wake of his bestselling record, the artist was going through a rough patch, mentally, financially, and in terms of his singing ability. And the composer wasn’t about to stick around. As Steinman would tell CD Review magazine in 1989 (an article he has since posted on his personal website), "Basically I only stopped working with him because he lost his voice as far as I was concerned. It was his voice I was friends with really.” Harsh, Jim, harsh.

Steinman began working with Bonnie Tyler in 1982, and in 1983, she released her fifth album, Faster Than the Speed of Night, including “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” It sold 6 million copies.

Tyler and Steinman both dispute that the song was written specifically for Meat Loaf. “Meat Loaf was apparently very annoyed that Jim gave that to me,” she told The Irish Times in 2014. “But Jim said he didn’t write it for Meat Loaf, that he only finished it after meeting me.”

There isn’t a whole lot of bad blood between the two singers, though. In 1989, they released a joint compilation album: Heaven and Hell.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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