Simon & Garfunkel in a televised concert on Granada TV first broadcast in May 1967.
02 May 2023 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News
Live At Granada Studios, Manchester, UK March 1967 (Original Broadcast Date: 2nd May 1967)
00:25 He Was My Brother
03:28 Leaves That Are Green
06:49 A Most Peculiar Man
09:30 Homeward Bound
12:39 For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her
15:35 The Dangling Conversation
20:15 The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)
22:06 Richard Cory
25:56 7 O’ Clock News / Silent Night
29:00 A Hazy Shade Of Winter
31:39 At The Zoo
45:01 A Poem On The Underground Wall
47:15 I Am A Rock
52:51 The Sounds Of Silence
In March 1967, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel traveled to England for a brief concert tour that included London’s Royal Albert Hall and venues in Birmingham and Manchester. While in Manchester, they taped a television special at Granada TV where they performed their songs before a small audience.
The special, titled “Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel,” was shot in black-and-white and was broadcast on May 2, 1967. The monochrome production was strictly because color television was not introduced in England until July 1967, two months after the special aired. The lack of color might have resulted in the production never being shown on U.S. television, where the majority of prime time broadcasting – particularly variety specials – already made the transition into color.
For many years, “Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel” was unavailable for screening and there was a fear the production was lost – a great deal of British television from the 1960s was not preserved. However, the extant production survived and is available in unauthorized YouTube postings. And while Simon and Garfunkel fans view this work as an important record of the duo’s output prior to their superstardom elevation via “The Graduate” soundtrack, it is a mostly mild and, perhaps, a slightly dull affair.
The show starts off with one of the pair’s least successful songs: “He Was My Brother,” a heavy-handed elegy about a young man who was killed when he went to Mississippi to help in the civil rights movement. The song was meant as a tribute to Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, who were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan during the Freedom Summer Project to encourage disenfranchised Black Americans to register to vote. Which obviously created in sincerity, the song’s unsubtle composition and strident presentation gets the show off on the wrong foot.
Simon and Garfunkel take turns introducing each song, with Garfunkel starting on their second tune by identifying his partner as the songwriter of the numbers. “Leaves That Are Green” is performed and it quickly compensates for the unsubtle first song, with Simon’s masterful guitar playing and the brilliant blending of the pair’s voices creates a memorable experience.
Simon introduces the next song, “A Most Peculiar Man,” which he explained was inspired by a strange obituary he read in a newspaper while he was living in London – Simon tells the story with a slight English accent, a slight residue of his residence in British capital.
For the rest of the special’s first part, Simon and Garfunkel glide through some of their most memorable creations – “Homeward Bound,” “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her,” “The Dangling Conversation,” “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” and “Richard Cory.” Despite the cramped stage where they are placed, director John Sheppard frames the special with a quietly innovative manner with tracking shots, smart lighting and a clever way of using the considerable height difference between the pair for frame compositions.
Sadly, the special hits another pothole with the last song of the first part, an updated version of “7 O’Clock News / Silent Night” – Simon and Garfunkel are in silhouette against a bloated moon while a British newscaster reads a new U.K.-focused slate of disastrous headlines rather than U.S. news from the original recording. On the video copy that is posted to YouTube, the British newscaster’s voice lacks the urgency of the American original – and it is a bit difficult to make out what he is saying.
The special took an intermission at this point and returned for its second half. This offered a mix of their better known songs – “A Hazy Shade Of Winter,’ “At The Zoo,” “I Am a Rock” – and tunes that are better known to Simon and Garfunkel addicts than the general public, such as “Cloudy,” “Benedictus,” “Blessed” and “A Poem on the Underground Wall.” Simon goes Garfunkel-less in guitar instrumental of “Anji” for the second-to-last number and the pair close the show with the song that propelled them to attention, “The Sounds of Silence.”
By contemporary standards, the special is a bit too polite for comfort. Simon and Garfunkel don’t interact with the audience and they seem too serious for most of the show – one exception is when a string on one of Simon’s guitars abruptly snaps and he quips “Wow, there’s a ghost on the stage, man.” The audience, which appears to be in their twenties, never acknowledge the beginnings of the songs with applause and are reserved in their handclapping when the tunes have run their course.
Still, watching this offering is an interesting time capsule experience that Simon and Garfunkel fans will enjoy. And as there are no plans to make this available for commercial home entertainment sale, the only way to enjoy this is via online bootlegged video viewing.