SIMON AND GARFUNKEL
The Concert in Central Park
Review by Michael Jacobson
Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel
Director: Michael Lindsay-Hogg
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: Bonus Trailers
Length: 88 Minutes
Release Date: August 19, 2003
you need a friend,
I’m sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water,
I will ease your mind.”
the legendary folk rock duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel reunited for a
spectacular one night only show in New York’s Central Park before a rabidly
enthusiastic crowd of about half a million people back in 1982, it was an
indelible highlight in both of their musical careers. For one young, unknown, wide-eyed dreamer in Jacksonville,
Florida, it was not only a highlight, but an apex…the most pivotal point of
his soon-to-be discovered musical life.
and Garfunkel need no introduction. The
third party was me. I can still
remember it as clear as the resonating vocal harmonies of those master
performers. I was thirteen.
My family and I were in Tupelo, Mississippi visiting my sick grandmother.
The spirit of Elvis Presley, who had been born in that little town ages
ago (or so it seemed to me) could still be felt whistling through the trees and
across the dusty roads. And one
quiet night, trapped in a small hotel room with my parents, I was forced to
watch two men whose names I had surprisingly never heard before as they took the
stage on HBO for a dramatic reunion. My
mother assured me it was a huge event. I
was skeptical. The third Star
Wars movie coming out the following summer…THAT was a huge event.
so I watched. And listened.
And the more I listened, the more I realized I was indeed in the presence
of a happening. The songs were
beautiful, lyrical, and wrapped around my mind like a warm blanket.
The voices were soft yet striking, distinctive yet inseparable.
I would go on to watch the concert almost every time it re-aired on HBO,
and eventually, I would own it on laser disc.
significantly, I found myself with a new personal goal that I wasn’t shy about
vocalizing, to everyone’s patient bemusement.
I wanted to play the guitar like Paul Simon. His perfect cord phrasings, eloquent finger picking and
graceful, deceptively simply mastering of the fingerboard was a thing of beauty
to see and to listen to. My parents
had bought me a guitar three years earlier and it had sat in my room virtually
untouched all that time. Never
again. I picked up the instrument
one more time, and I haven’t put it down since.
then, I was a newbie in the world of Simon and Garfunkel.
Now, I’m a long time fan. I
can say from both points of view, this concert works.
If you don’t know their work, or much of it, virtually every song on
here is either a classic or should have been one.
For the devotees, the body of music here is confirmation of these men’s
modest yet undeniable greatness.
the catchy opening riff of “Mrs. Robinson” through the lilting likes of
“Homeward Bound” and “America”, this concert plays like an American
songbook. Whether it’s S&G
classics like “Feelin’ Groovy”, “The Boxer”, the chilling “Sound of
Silence”, the dreamy “Scarborough Fair”, the contemplative “Old
Friends” or the majestic “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, there’s no
denying the breadth of the compositions at hand.
Some of Paul Simon’s solo favorites are here, made better than ever
with Art Garfunkel’s presence…songs like “Kodachrome”, “Me and
Julio”, “Slip Sliding Away” and the showstopping “Late in the
Evening”. For added bonus, there
are even a couple of rousing cover tunes: the Everly Brothers’ “Wake Up Little Susie” (which was
actually released as a single that entered the top 40) and Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline”.
One brand new song (at the time) was included:
“The Late Great Johnny Ace” was Simon’s heartfelt tribute to the
recently fallen John Lennon.
came together on that one incredible night.
The band was first rate, the atmosphere was electric, the crowd was
ravenously responsive, and most important of all, Simon and Garfunkel sounded
like they had never been apart at all.
must confess, I don’t fully know the story of their turbulent relationship.
I’m not sure why they had split up in the first place, or why after
such a successful show they split up again, or why they rarely spoke to one
another for so many of those years. All
I know is that it was great to see them partnered together again in a time
capsule moment, even if it was just for one night.
The friendly smiles to one another and occasional shoulder clasping
proved that their music could indeed be the bridge over their troubled waters,
at least for a little while.
was hoping to lavish better praise on this DVD in this department, but it faced
two imposing hurdles right out of the box:
its age, and the fact that it was shot on video.
The show starts off looking pretty good, but as the night wore on and the
setting became darker, the problems came out.
Images were slightly soft throughout…in close-ups, they weren’t so
bad, but in long shots, there was definite fuzziness…no one in the band looked
good. Some dark shots lend to
light, noticeable ‘rolling’ from the video source that your eye can’t help
but pick up on. Color tones are generally decent, but a bit of bleeding is
apparent now and then. As
mentioned, most of these are attributable to age or the video source or both.
The DVD is watchable, but it can’t quite iron out those problem areas.
was REALLY hoping for a 5.1 mix, but the original stereo is all that’s here.
It sounds pretty good, but for serious audiophiles who have heard what
concerts CAN sound like on DVD, this is a noticeable step backwards.
It just doesn’t have the full, open, punch of many live discs.
It’s clean and clear throughout, with fair dynamic range and nothing
muddled or noisy…everything sounds right, just not exemplary.
a handful of trailers for some of Fox’s other available musical DVDs.
The chapter stops are a little frustrating…instead of one stop per
song, a few of them are actually grouped together in pairs or in threes, making
navigation difficult. Neither the
chapter list on the disc itself nor on the insert even mentions “The Late
Great Johnny Ace”, so good luck in finding it (okay, I won’t play
mean…it’s after “A Heart in New York”.
Whoever made the decision to present the disc in that fashion, it was a