Monday, January 01, 2007

This Day in Music History: Simon and Garfunkel and The Sounds of Silence

On this day in music history, January 1, 1966, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel got a late Christmas gift when their song The Sounds of Silence went to #1 on the Billboard chart.
You see Paul Simon wrote the song in 1963. It was two years later that they recorded it for their first album on Columbia.
The two men have been lifelong friends since they met in the sixth grade. Thankfully they are still friends today. They began performing together and tried together and sometimes separately to get their musical careers going. Sometimes they tried under different names when they recorded their music. Their most famous one was Tom and Jerry. It was under that name they nearly got started when their song Hey Schoolgirl peaked at #49 on the Billboard charts. They even got to appear on American Bandstand. Their next two singles flopped and they both went to college.
Paul continued writing songs and with Art he preformed in coffee houses. He took his songs to producer Tom Wilson at Columbia records. He liked what he heard and signed them to the label. They recorded some of their songs and other folk tunes with just vocals and an acoustic guitar. This became their Wednesday Morning, 3a.m. album. It was not well received. Thinking that their best chance at musical stardom was a flop Art went back to graduate school and Paul went home to England where he had moved the year before.
However, a radio station in Boston had put The Sounds of Silence into their rotation. It was such a big hit there that Columbia records released it as a single with a new backing rhythm track. At that time Paul was working in London, England as a record producer. He was producing an album when he got a call from America that he and Art had the #1 single in the USA. The careers of Simon and Garfunkel where now off and running.
The song was #1 for two weeks but not in a row. They yielded the top spot to the Beatles and their song We Can Work It Out. But they retuned for an additional week to the #1 position.

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