Saturday, October 07, 2006

Still Crazy After All These Years

You all remember Simon and Garfunkel, right?

Strangely enough, they're now middle-aged men.

Roger and I got to see them in concert a few years ago for their amazing "Old Friends" reunion concert tour. They sounded great and if they looked --ahem-- a bit older, well, so did we all.

Last night, Roger and I saw Paul Simon in his new "Surprise" tour. Paul Simon is up there in Roger's top 3 all-time favorite musical artists and it was a huge deal for Roger to get to see him performing live and solo. I like him a lot, too, but it was a special thrill for Roger.

Anyway, we headed off to Berkeley. We had dinner at a lovely restaurant at the Berkeley Marina, "Skates on the Bay," so we could eat delicious food while gazing across the bay at the San Francisco skyline and the end of the Golden Gate Bridge. (I had a wonderful piece of prime rib, mashed pototoes, perfectly accompanied by a glass of Penfold's Shiraz...Roger had a pepper-crusted salmon dish, and we shared a great salad with field greens, pear slices, pecans, blue cheese, and maple vinaigrette.)

Then, off to the Greek Theatre on the UC Berkeley campus. Having been there just a year ago for another middle-aged-people-nostalgia concert, we remembered that a) it's outdoors so b) we'd need to dress warmly and c) we'd be sitting on concrete benches so d) we'd need to bring cushions. We were happy to have our various items of padding, and were quite comfy.

So, there he was, with his ever-present baseball cap. Paul Simon isn't a warm guy (at least publicly) and he doesn't talk much (if at all) during concerts. He barely smiles. Still, he sounds great, and we were reminded of why this guy is a music legend.

Just think of the music he's made. He's written so many songs that capture the feeling of the 60's: Sound of Silence, Bridge over Troubled Water, The Boxer, Mrs. Robinson. When he went solo, he came out with Kodachrome, 50 Ways to Leave your Lover, and Still Crazy after all these Years. He virtually changed the landscape of pop music by incorporating music from other cultures into his, with the strong African rhythms and chants of Graceland and the Braxilian and Cajun influences in his Rythm of the Saints.

Pretty darned impressive.

So, last night was wonderful. He sang a bunch of old favorites. I was especially happy to hear "Mrs. Robinson" and "Still Crazy" and a few favorites from the Graceland album. He did some of his newer songs, too, which were lovely. As an encore, he sang Bridge over Troubled Water and a newer song called "Wartime Prayers" that was simple and touching.

Roger and I had a good laugh, gazing around at all the "older folks" in the audience. Clearly, they were far older than we are!

We were also amused watching Simon's movements. Some years ago (pre-Caroline) we saw Art Garfunkel performing solo in Boston. He's a wonderful singer, but he stands somewhat awkardly when he sings, barely swaying. When we saw Simon and Garfunkel together in 2003, Garfunkel seemed more relaxed and actually almost danced...well, he bounced and tapped and swayed with more vigor, anyway. Simon was busy with his guitar so that was plenty of movement.

Well, last night we saw Simon doing his funny dance version. He'd bend his legs into strange positions (say, standing with his legs bent and apart as if he was getting ready to do a karate punch) and move his arms in weird, wavy ways. His fingers fluttered strangely, too... like he was playing an invisible piano or fingering an invisible guitar? It was odd. Maybe Garfunkel's choice to just stand there and tap his foot and sway was a better choice.

Anyway, I think I"ll be listening to Paul Simon this week. He's produced quite a body of wonderful music. Hmmm, I think I'll go add a bunch to my Ipod...


  1. We saw a Simon and Garfunkel concert in Minneapolis in the '80's and it still ranks as the best concert I have ever seen. We took our then-teenaged son with us and he quickly became a convert. No matter how good each one is separately, they are more than twice as good together.

  2. I was lucky to be in NY for the reunion concert. Talk about a once in a lifetime experience. I have worn the CD out and am working on Surprise the same way.

    Bridge Over Troubled Waters was one of the first RECORDS I ever owned...I'm one of those older folks and so happy to have been there in the beginning.

  3. Anonymous3:12 PM

    Wow, I came to your site to tell you about "Puffballs", but now I have to tell you that my husband is an avid Simon & Garfunkel fan and went to see the Reunion Concert in Nashville with our oldest son. (I was out of town at a quilt show) They loved it and I got the CD/DVD as a B-day gift that year. We are both somewhat older than you (unless you lie about your age on your blog?) and have been fans since day one and have several 33's that we still play on a re-built turntable.

    Now about Puffballs, they are a type of fungus, like a mushroom. They grow in the wild (our yard and in the woods) all over the world. They have the texture of a mushroom and a slightly stronger flavor. The one on the blog this year was about average size, the one pictured last year on the blog was twice as big. I've never tried them in a sandwich, they are very rich and filling without the bread/bun.

    Now you know all there is about puffballs......

  4. I downloaded the Surprise Album as soon as it was available on iTunes - I just love it - so classic Simon. I envy you having seen him in person!