Most people have forgotten what a big deal Simon & Garfunkel’s free concert in Central Park was at the time. After the release of Bridge Over Troubled Water the duo had gradually gone their separate ways. There had been a 1972 concert in Madison Square Garden for presidential candidate George McGovern, a 1975 appearance on Saturday Night Live, and they had recorded a single together titled “My Little Town.”
By 1981 Simon & Garfunkel had taken on a legendary status and so on September, 19, the lawn of New York’s Central Park was covered by several hundred thousand people who had turned out to see this free reunion concert. This performance would be recorded live and released as a two disc vinyl album on February 16, 1982.
The Concert In Central Park would find the duo updating their sound. A full band with synthesizers and a brass section would provide backing.
The album also shows just what wonderful vocalists Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were and how perfectly they fit together. It also proved that they could provide perfect renditions of their songs live without any recording techniques.
The song selection was impeccable. The concert begins with “Mrs, Robinson” which quickly established the fact that Simon & Garfunkel are alive and very well. “Homeward Bound,” “America,” the Paul Simon solo hit “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard,” and “Scarborough Fair” quickly follow and are all presented perfectly but with a modern sheen.
Side two begins with the gentle folk hit, “April Comes She Will” and then moves to an Everly Brothers tribute song, “Wake Up Little Susie.” They had based their original sound upon that of the Everly’s and were one of the few artists who were able to mimic them perfectly.
The “Kodachrome/Maybelline” medley was an inspirational pairing of two songs that don’t seem to fit together. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” just soared out into the night with some of the purest vocals ever captured live.
The concert ends with the poignancy of “Old Friends,” the goofiness of “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” and the quiet beauty of “The Sound Of Silence.”
The Concert In Central Park was and remains one of the best live albums ever recorded. It captured one of music’s legendary duos at their best and also showed what the music world had been missing.