“It wasn’t Artie’s fault,” Simon explained on The Howard Stern Show, recalling how outside influences began weighing on the duo.
Both men, as Simon noted, were originally supposed to be in director Mike Nichols’ 1970 film Catch-22.
“We were in the midst of making Bridge Over Troubled Water [at the time] and this was interrupting, and Simon & Garfunkel were at their peak,” Simon recalled to Stern. “From The Graduate to Bridge Over Troubled Water, we were probably as big as the Beatles.”
Simon & Garfunkel found themselves pulled in different directions, and tension was running high as the duo crafted Bridge Over Troubled Water.
“What was going on in the studio though was a real tug of war about taste and how to do it,” Simon explained. “We were friends since we were 12 years old, but our musical inclinations are quite different, and so we would have disagreements, and the disagreements could be, you know, real arguments that could stop a session cold.”
When he discovered through a mutual friend that Garfunkel had taken another acting role, this time in Nichols’ next movie, Carnal Knowledge, Simon had finally had enough.
“‘I was afraid if I told you, you would stop working on Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Simon recalled Garfunkel saying. “And I thought, ‘I’ve got to get out of here.’”
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Still, the singer-songwriter admitted the relationship would have inevitably ended, regardless of the circumstances. “We would’ve broken up anyway. Duos don’t stay together,” Simon explained, citing examples like John Lennon and Paul McCartney and the Everly Brothers. “And when they get back together, it’s not about the music, it’s about the business.”
What Has Paul Simon Previously Said About Art Garfunkel?
In the past, Simon has been more aggressive regarding his former musical partner. He regularly pointed toward Carnal Knowledge as a turning point for the duo, expressing outrage that he would be expected to sit around and wait while Garfunkel filmed another movie.
“He knew how I’d feel [about taking the part], but he did it anyway,” Simon said in his biography The Life. “I thought, ‘Fuck you, I’m not going to do that.’ And the truth is, I think if Artie had become a big movie star he would have left. Instead of just being the guy who sang Paul Simon songs, he could be Art Garfunkel, a big star all by himself.
“When he agreed to make Carnal Knowledge, something was broken between us,” Simon continued. “I just wanted to move on. We were finished.”
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He was always an uneasy folksinger, a role his record company tried to push him into starting with Simon & Garfunkel’s debut.