New York (NY), USA – In the fall 1969, at the absolute pinnacle of their decade-and-a-half working association, Simon & Garfunkel undertook a major North American tour. It would turn out to mark their final tour together for the next 13 years.
Chronologically situated in the aftermath of Woodstock, and just weeks before Altamont, comes Simon & Garfunkel Live 1969, a 17-song chronicle of the final tour, raising the curtain on what the duo felt like and sounded like in their seminal years. Gathering songs that were recorded during October and November in six cities — Detroit, Toledo, Carbon dale, Illinois, St. Louis, Long Beach, and New York — reissue producer Bob Irwin has seamlessly re- created the magic of those concerts. This eagerly anticipated CD will arrive in stores September 18th on Columbia/Legacy.
"The performances on Live 1969," writes Bud Scoppa in his liner notes, "were impeccably recorded, and that is a good thing indeed, because Simon & Garfunkel were in absolute peak form at the time, their imminent estrangement notwithstanding."
Live 1969 encompasses the release of Bookends and looks forward to the imminent release of Bridge Over Troubled Water in late-January 1970. On tour in 1969, in addition to dropping any songs from Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, Scoppa sums up "there are 17 songs gathered on this collection, four apiece from Sounds of Silence and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (both released in 1966), three from Bookends (1968) and five from Bridge. The obvious inspiration for the lone outside selection, the Gene Autry-co-written ‘That Silver-Haired Daddy Of Mine,’ was the Everly Brothers, who’d sung it on their autobiographical 1958 LP, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.
Live 1969 begins and ends with the acoustic folk duo, but Simon & Garfunkel play "the meat of their sets" with four superb and legendary studio musicians who were among the stellar backing cast of the Bridge Over Troubled Water sessions. After reportedly spending more than 800 hours over a two year span recording the album — and after three previous albums that employed full complements of studio musicians — it came as no surprise when fans saw the duo onstage in the company of Hal Blaine (drums), Joe Osborn (bass), and Larry Knechtel (keyboards) — mainstays of Hollywood’s so-called ‘Wrecking Crew’ — and Nashville A-Team guitarist Fred Carter, Jr.
Bridge Over Troubled Water took on a life of its own around the world as one of history’s greatest achievements in recorded music. But by early 1970, not long after its release, the partnership of Simon & Garfunkel had run its course.
Through the years, hopes and dreams of reunions have been fulfilled in unexpected ways — among them, their benefit performance at Madison Square Garden for 1972 Presidential candidate George McGovern; an appearance on NBC’s Saturday Night Live in 1975 to promote a one-off single, "My Little Town" (that both artists included on their solo albums at the time) and a return to SNL in 1977; a collaboration with James Taylor on an update of Sam Cooke’s "(What a) Wonderful World" in ’78, intended for Art’s solo album at the time; their record-setting free concert in New York’s Central Park, September 1981, subsequently issued as a double-LP in ’82, followed by a European tour that year and a U.S. tour in ’83; a performance at their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990; and their sold-out 21-show run at the Paramount Theatre of Madison Square Garden in 1993.
A full decade passed before they sang together in public again, in recognition of their Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys in 2003. The event inspired a two-month North American tour from October through December that year.
The release of Simon & Garfunkel Live 1969 fills a monumental gap in the duo’s history. It sheds light not only on their development but on the American cultural and political landscape at the height of the Civil Rights and free speech and Anti-War movements that involved so many of their listeners and concert-goers. It was, "a time of great extremes, a tumultuous era," Scoppa writes. "In short, it was an era similar in many ways to the one we’re now living through. We needed Simon & Garfunkel then, and we could very much use their equivalent now, 40 years later."
Buy Live 1969.