Friday, June 29, 2012

America, Simon & Garfunkel

by Dick Mac

As we gear-up to celebrate Independence Day in the United States, I thought I'd post one of my favorite America songs: "America," by Simon & Garfunkel.

It originally appeared on the "Bookends" LP in 1968; but the song was not released as a single until 1972, when it reached #97 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 2001, David Bowie opened the Concert For New York with a dramatic version of the song.

When I searched for photos of Bowie, Paul Simon, and Art Garfunkel, this gem of a photo, this piece of pop history, appeared.  I remember this night clearly.  Aretha Franklin said she was so happy about winning she'd even kiss David Bowie.

The real reason I remember this Grammy Awards ceremony is that I watched it with my mother.  She was a pop music fan and liked David Bowie enough.  She didn't buy his records, but she knew enough to sing along some of his hits.  When Bowie appeared on stage, my mother gasped and said:  "What's wrong with Him?  Is he sick?  He looks like he's going to die!"

Well, I guess sick is a good way to put it, in the spiritual sense of the word.  This was during his amazing bender with John Lennon and Harry Nilsson that took them around the world in a blackout.  Bowie was so strung-out on cocaine, for such a long period of time, that he was a walking skeleton.  Well-dressed, of course, but a mess.

One legend about this night (and it might be true) is that Yoko was furious that Lennon was going to appear on the show with Bowie and not her.  She flew to LA immediately and was present for the ceremonies.

A typical New York City point about the photograph above (which is reprinted here without permission):  Roberta Flack (far right), John & Yoko, and Paul Simon all lived in The Dakota, on Central Park West.  Only in New York!  Ono and Flack still live there; but, Simon moved his family down the street after the murder of John Lennon, at the entrance to the building.

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