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Paul Simon opens up about what created ‘recipe for the breakup of Simon & Garfunkel’

Paul Simon has explained what led to the break-up of folk duo Simon & Garfunkel, saying creative tensions and Art Garfunkel’s acting career created the “recipe for the breakup of Simon & Garfunkel”.

Simon, 82, was speaking in a new MGM+ documentary series: In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon.

The first episode covered Simon and Garfunkel’s meeting at elementary school in Queens, New York City, the release of their debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. in 1964 and their eventual break-up after the release of their bestselling fifth and final record Bridge over Troubled Water in 1970.

“We were really best friends up until Bridge over Troubled Water,” Simon says in the documentary. “[Afterwards], it didn’t have the harmony of the friendship… that was broken.”

Fractures in their friendship began to emerge after they finished recording the score for the 1967 film The Graduate and Garfunkel took a role in the movie Catch-22.

“Artie said, ‘Yeah, the way it’s going to be is that I will do movies for six months, then I’ll come back, you’ll have written the songs, and we will do the album,’,” Simon recalls. “And I thought, ‘Yeah? Actually, no. That’s not gonna happen. I am not gonna do that.’”

Art Garfunkel (left) and Paul Simon in 2003 (Getty Images)
Art Garfunkel (left) and Paul Simon in 2003 (Getty Images)

The duo’s working relationship was apparently never on an equal footing, as Simon was responsible for all the songwriting.

“We had an uneven partnership because I was writing all of the songs and basically running the sessions because I would say, ‘This is how it goes, and this is the guitar part, and you should be playing that on drums, and the bass should be doing this’,” he says.

“Artie would be in the control room with [producer] Roy [Halee], and he’d say, ‘Yeah, that’s good, let’s do that,’ but it was an uneven balance of power.”

Although Simon was writing and arranging the songs, he felt let down when Garfunkel left to act in Catch-22. Initially filming was only supposed to last six weeks, but the shoot ended up taking much longer.

“The movie ran over,” explains Simon. “‘You have to come back.’ ‘No, I can’t because we have to shoot this week in Mexico. Send me down what you did, and I’ll give it a listen,’ ‘No, that’s no good. You have to change this and this.’ It was like, everything got disrupted. It was a recipe for the breakup of Simon & Garfunkel.”

The first episode of the docuseries ends with Simon sadly lamenting the end of their friendship, as well as their working musical relationship. “That was a good friendship,” Simon says. “That was a real first friendship of somebody that got it. For me, to turn into a person that I hope I never see again – that’s a long way.”

Earlier this week, Simon shared an update on his hearing after suffering a near-total loss in his left ear back in 2023.

During a premiere for the docuseries, the singer-songwriter revealed that it has now come back to “enough of a degree that I’m comfortably singing and playing guitar and playing a few other instruments”.