Ask me to cite the music that defines New York City — or my New York City, anyway — and I’m liable to spout off a long, windy list of names from the universally canonized to the comparatively less celebrated and onto the pretentiously esoteric. Ask someone else and they’ll invariably give you a completely different list of their own favorites. Some will cite Hip Hop. Others Jazz or maybe Disco. There is certainly no shortage of luminaries to choose from.
But prior to being renowned as the birthplace of Punk, Disco and Hip Hop — well prior to Chic, The Last Poets, The New York Dolls, Suicide, The Velvet Underground and even The Fugs, there was one outfit that just embodied New York City to the bone. That outfit — or duo, more specifically — was Simon & Garfunkel.
Born of Greenwich Villages’s once-thriving folk scene, Simon & Garfunkel embodied the sound of NYC years before Lou Reed or Gil Scot-Heron or Richard Hell or James Chance or The Strokes or ________ (insert your favorite here).
When I hear Simon & Garfunkel, meanwhile, I guess I just think of my parents’ record collection. Bridge Over Troubled Water was the big family favorite. As I mentioned here, in 7th Grade, meanwhile, I had a cool teacher named Mr. Imbeli who decided to introduce us to S&G’s comparatively dark album, Bookends. It may have been my first instance, as a budding music fan, with hearing another’s rapturous evangelization about a record. He sat our desks in a circle around the portable record player and dissected the album song by song. I’d like to think it was because he thought it was music worth passing on. In truth, he was probably sick and tired of hearing us all froth at the mouth about KISS, “We Will Rock You” and “Another Break in the Wall Part II.”
By and large it worked, though. While I probably wouldn’t rush to cite them in the same list of NYC favorites as, say, the Jim Carroll Band, the Cro-Mags or Cop Shoot Cop, I do love me some Simon & Garfunkel.
All this misty-eyed recollection, meanwhile is to serve as preamble for the photograph below.
Spotted on the Facebook group NYC 1950 to Present, it’s a shot and Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel hanging out on Sixth Avenue circa March 1966.
I have to say, I’ve never heard any invocation of a bar on that strip called The English Pub. I wonder what it was like. Today, meanwhile, that strip looks like this (taken by me about a half hour ago).
In trying to find more, I happened upon this video for, suitably enough, “The Only Living Boy in New York,” which actually features footage shot on the same day. Amazing. Enjoy.