CD Review: Simon & Garfunkel Live 1969

April 28, 2009

BECAUSE HE'S SUCH A GREAT SONGWRITER, Paul Simon never gets enough love for his guitar playing, and that’s just plain uncool, because this guy is awesome. 

This concert set is taken from the time where Simon and his angel-voiced foil, Art Garfunkel, where at the peak of their powers and, whether they knew it or not, were writing the soundtrack to America’s collective identity crisis. Simon’s acoustic is probably miked up with an SM57 on the soundhole and it sounds amazing on every tune. In this day and age of piezo directness, you forget how great an acoustic guitar with a mic on it sounds. You hear all the intricacies of Simon’s playing on the opener, “Homeward Bound,” and the capoed whimsy of “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” is sparkly and sweet. Anyone familiar with the live track of “For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her” that was on Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits will recognize that this is the same version, and it’s a real tour de force from both a guitar and a vocal standpoint. This is such a great live track that it always made me wonder what the rest of that show sounded like, and now we know. “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” shows off more great Simon fingerpicking, which all the more impressive when you hear his intricate vocal over the top of it. The only slight drag is the commentary between songs from Artie G, which has a rather palpable smarm factor to it. No matter though. All the pomposity in the world couldn’t take away from this performance. Stellar renditions of classic tunes. Well played, gentlemen. Legacy.

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