The rock pioneers that Paul Simon called “perfect”

Paul Simon

Being a member of a vocal duo is always a challenging dynamic in rock and roll. The praise does not have to be divided among four or five people, as with most bands. Both group members will always harbor growing hatred toward one another. They believe that they are far more important than their partner gives them credit for. Paul Simon and Garfunkel could be considered one of the best examples of this. But Paul Simon recognized that one of his heroes had achieved perfection long before he did.

However, Simon was destined to become a star based solely on the strength of his songs. With Art Garfunkel, he produced some of the most earnest folk rock of the late 1960s. This ranged from reminding us of the sad state of the world in ‘The Sound of Silence‘ to creating stellar ballads like ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water‘.

While they were constantly innovating their sound, Simon had the broadest musical palette. Coming from a folk background, Paul Simon would incorporate everything he heard into his music. It ranged from twisting Bach’s sounds for the melody line in ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water‘ to eventually working with world music in his solo career and beyond.

In terms of great songwriting, Simon has always preferred the golden age of rock and roll. Bob Dylan heavily influences the acoustic foundation of the duo’s sound. Simon remembers The Everly Brothers as his biggest idol at the time.

Phil and Don Everly, who released albums around the same time as Chuck Berry and Little Richard, took a much gentler approach to rock and roll. Unlike artists who wanted to make the most raucous music possible, The Everly Brothers added a gentle touch to every one of their songs. They even leaned into the sounds of country music on songs like ‘Bye Bye Love‘ and ‘Wake Up Little Suzie‘.

Aside from their extensive repertoire of classics, the duo came alive when they sang together. They sang in close two-part harmony that added an aching sadness to their heartbreaking ballads. Their harmony sounds blew away more than just Simon. Paul McCartney and John Lennon dubbed themselves the ‘Foreverly Brothers‘ before forming The Beatles.

The Everly Brothers had a fantastic track record of making great music. But they eventually split up due to a series of issues, culminating in one of their final shows. It was while Phil smashed his guitar after Don arrived at a gig intoxicated. They never got the chance to say goodbye. Simon would bring them back together for their final tour, letting them close the door on their legacy the right way.

Years of abuse could have hurt their vocals. But Simon believed nothing could have improved the band’s performances, telling Rolling Stone, “They met in the parking lot before the first gig.” They unpacked their famous black guitars, opened their mouths, and began singing. Even after all these years, it was that sound that made me fall in love with Askid. “It was still perfect.”

The Everly Brothers’ influence is palpable every time Simon and Garfunkel reunite. Both duos share the trait of being at each other’s throats the majority of the time. But the sound of their vocals rubbing against each other has served as the soundtrack for two distinct generations of rock fans.

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