Leave it to the wacky crew of fledgling SNL to throw a curveball on pitch two.
No. That’s not a good enough metaphor.
It’s like a hard rock band which decides to “break it down” two songs into their set.
Yeah. That’s a little better.
Really has an off-the-cuff feel of experimentation.
Like, “Hey…Garfunkel is in! Garfunkel is in!”
Yes, this is really a musical special rather than a true Saturday Night Live episode.
I must be honest.
Paul Simon starts out pretty bland.
I was skeptical.
I mean, I like the guy, but the first couple of songs are a little clunky–a little underwhelming.
But then things pick up. Big time!
I’ve always heard “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” as a magical song. It is other. And though the mellow duo of Simon & Garfunkel don’t play that particular tune on this show, they go to that magical other place for a string of songs. “The Boxer”…”Scarborough Fair”…it is bloody jawdropping.
Just these two dudes. No band. Nothing to cover for flubs. Paul with his fingerpicks on. Never misses a note. And Art with his delicate voice…as poised as his Bob Ross hair.
And the songs! My God, the songs! The lyrics about “the boxer”…this passage in particular:
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame,
“I am leaving, I am leaving.”
But the fighter still remains.
Goddamn. Those last two lines. I’m leaving, but the fighter still remains.
And then those opening fingerpicked notes of “Scarborough Fair” with the capo midway up the neck. So delicate. So many blurred harmonies. Like a clavichord.
But hold your horses!
Randy Newman is here too. At the piano. Doing “Sail Away”…and those lazy, studied dissonances reminiscent of Charles Ives. And the words…as delicate a political statement as Chuck Berry’s “Back in the USA”…
To break things up, Paul plays Connie Hawkins in a game of one-on-one basketball with Marv Albert getting the sideline interview. What a bizarre and hilarious bit!!!
But the song that really got me was “Marie” by Paul Simon (actually a Randy Newman composition). I’ve loved you since the moment I first saw you (or something like that). Man… This guy! And that song…
I will admit that I never really “got” Simon & Garfunkel till I saw this episode. And Paul Simon I knew mainly from the later stuff…the great albums like Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints. Like I said: some of Paul’s solo stuff falls flat, but on the whole the guy is one hell of a talent!!!
Phoebe Snow didn’t do as much for me here as Janis Ian did in the first episode, but hey: the lady was seven-months pregnant. There’s no doubt Snow had a truckload of talent. The repertoire was a bit questionable, but that might not have been her fault.
Also, before I forget: Art’s solo rendition here of “I Only Have Eyes for You” is otherworldly. Nobody does it like that anymore! Truly a fount of inspiration!!
And so there’s very little Chevy Chase, no Aykroyd, no Belushi…but it was kinda worth it for the musical happening which transpired.
A nice curveball 🙂