Why Paul Simon Felt Simon & Garfunkel’s Breakup Wasn’t Like The Beatles’ Breakup
The Beatles released their final album, Let It Be, in 1970, the same year Simon & Garfunkel released their final album, Bridge Over Troubled Water. Paul Simon himself felt The Beatles’ breakup wasn’t comparable to Simon & Garfunkel’s breakup on an artistic level. He also discussed how Simon & Garfunkel’s split negatively affected his finances.
Paul Simon felt his breakup wouldn’t be as impactful as The Beatles’ breakup
During a 1972 interview with Rolling Stone, Simon revealed George Harrison wanted to hear Paul Simon, the first album Simon released after his duo dissolved. “George Harrison said to me, ‘I’m really curious to hear your album, because now you hear sort of what we are like individually, since the group broke up, and I know what you were like together, and I’d like to hear what you’re like individually,'” Simon recalled.
“And all the while in my head I thought, ‘This breakup is not really comparable to that Beatles breakup, because there was a tremendous interaction in that group that came from the sound,’ and I said to myself, ‘I write better songs now than I used to write years ago, so I’m going to make a better album, but nobody knows that. They won’t know it till it comes out,'” Simon said. “That was my fantasy. In fact, many critics said that. But the public didn’t in terms of buying the record, and that’s unsettling. I’m getting used to it now, I’m getting used to the fact.”
Paul Simon felt it would take a while before fans wanted to hear his post-breakup music
Simon discussed his expectations regarding his solo career. “At first, I said, ‘Look, when it breaks up, you’re going to have to start all over again. It may take you a couple of albums before people will even listen,'” he said.
“But actually, emotionally, I was ready to be welcomed into the public’s arms, as I had been in the past,” he added. “And not that I’m not now, because it’s a successful album, this just goes to show you my perspective.” Simon would go on to have hits without Garfunkel during the 1970s and 1980s, such as “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” “Mother and Child Reunion,” “You Can Call Me Al,” and the Elvis Presley tribute “Graceland.”
George Harrison discussed his own feelings regarding The Beatles’ split
While Simon said his solo songs were better than his work with Garfunkel, George didn’t draw a line between his Beatles and post-Beatles work. During a 1992 interview found in the book George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters, George said his solo songs simply would have been Beatles songs if the band stayed together. He singled out the title track of his album Cloud Nine as one of his solo tunes that The Beatles could have recorded. George felt comfortable looking back at his past with the Fab Four, even though he’d forgotten much of it.
Simon and George were two folk-rock musicians from the same generation — yet they had radically different attitudes toward their band breakups.