The Concert in Central Park – September 19, 1981
The Concert in Central Park was a free benefit performance on the Great Lawn in Central Park, New York City, where Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel sang their music in front of more than half a million people.
Benefit proceeds of $51,000 went toward the redevelopment and maintenance of the park, which had deteriorated due to lack of municipal funding.
Simon and Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park consisted of 21 songs, including “The Sound of Silence,” “Mrs. Robinson,” and “The Boxer.”
After the 17th song, “The Boxer,” which contained an additional stanza not included in the album version, Simon & Garfunkel thanked the audience and left the stage. They returned to deliver an encore of three songs – “Old Friends / Bookends Theme,” “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” and “The Sound of Silence.”
Simon and Garfunkel both said they were disappointed with their performance, particularly Art Garfunkel, who felt that he sang poorly. Paul Simon said that he did not realize the magnitude of the event, saying “I didn’t get what had happened – how big it was – until I went home, turned on the television and saw it on all the news, and later that night on the front pages of all the newspapers. Then I got it.”
An LP album of their live performance was released February 16, 1982. It was the first live album by Simon & Garfunkel, and marked the start of a three year reunion.
As it turned out, ongoing personal tensions between the duo, despite the success of the concert and a subsequent world tour, led them to decide against a permanent reunion.
To this day, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel live large in my memory.
My soul is filled with their music that marks the unlooked for gifts of unbelievable places I’ve been, and the absolutely unforgettable people I have known in the turbulent years of my life.