Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were the most successful folk-rock duo of the 1960s, crafting a series of memorable hit albums and singles which featured their well-loved and familiar harmonies, and incorporated acoustic and electric guitars, along with Simon’s songwriting. They were childhood friends, growing up together in Forest Hills, NY, and they began making records in 1957, calling themselves Tom & Jerry. Their first single was ‘Hey Schoolgirl’, and it actually made it into the Top 50, but after a series of follow-ups that went nowhere, the duo split up, and Simon continued to struggle to make it in the music business as a songwriter and occasional performer, sometimes using the names of Jerry Landis or Tico & the Triumphs. After graduating from Forest Hills High School, Simon majored in English at Queens College and graduated in 1963, while Garfunkel studied mathematics at Columbia University in Manhattan.
By the early ‘60s, both Simon and Garfunkel came under the influence of folk music, so they teamed up again, this time as a folk duo. They signed with Columbia, and in 1964 they recorded an initially unsuccessful acoustic studio album as Simon & Garfunkel, titled Wednesday Morning, 3 AM. They again went their separate ways, Simon moving to England, where he played the folk circuit and recorded an obscure solo album. Simon toured England’s pubs and small folk clubs, and he met Kathy Chitty, who became the object of his affection.
The Simon & Garfunkel story could have ended there, except for a brainstorm of their producer, Tom Wilson (who also produced several of Bob Dylan’s early albums). Folk-rock was taking off in 1965, and Wilson, who had helped Dylan electrify his sound, took the strongest track from S&G’s debut, ‘The Sound of Silence’, and embellished it with electric guitars, bass, and drums. The Byrds, five ex-folkies who turned rockers, created a new hybrid sound that was immediately termed “folk-rock” with their hit cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and this is the format that Simon and Garfunkel decided to follow. Their newly recorded song ‘The Sound of Silence’ got to number one in early 1966, and the album peaked at #30 on the Billboard album chart in 1966. This gave the duo the impetus to reunite and make a serious go at a recording career, so Simon returned from the U.K. to the U.S. In 1966 and 1967, they were regular visitors to the pop charts with some of the best folk-rock of the era, including ‘Homeward Bound’, ‘I Am a Rock’ and ‘A Hazy Shade of Winter’.
After Queens College Simon briefly attended Brooklyn Law School for one semester before he dropped out of New York law school, and went to England. In 1964, 22 year old Paul Simon was in England, when he met an 18 year old girl who loved folk music. This love brought Kathleen Mary “Kathy” Chitty to the Railway Inn folk club, in Brentwood, Essex, where she sold tickets. During their relationship Paul wrote dozens of hits that were later performed with Art Garfunkel. Kathy is mentioned by name twice in ‘America’ and the song ‘Homeward Bound’ is about returning from a gig in Widnes to see her in Essex. However today I am writing about ‘Kathy’s Song’ which Paul wrote about missing her while he was in New York.
In 1964, the very first English folk club that Paul Simon played in, the Railway Inn Folk Club was where he met his then girlfriend Kathy Chitty. ‘Kathy’s Song’ came out on the 1966 album Sounds Of Silence. They met on 12th April, 1964 and it appeared to be love at first sight. Later that year he invited her to the US where they toured around mainly by bus. Kathy returned to England on her own with Simon returning to her some weeks later. During this separation he wrote ‘America’, which was clearly a love song to Kathy and ‘Kathy’s Song’, which some people consider to be one of the most beautiful love songs ever written.
When he returned to London he recorded the album The Paul Simon Songbook which included ‘Kathy’s Song’, and it featured a photo of Simon and Kathy on the cover. In the meantime, The Sound of Silence started to receive major air-play in America eventually becoming No 1 in the US charts in 1965. Simon felt the need to return to the US to continue his career, but this meant splitting up with Kathy because she wanted no part of the crazy US music scene. Kathy later married and brought up three children in a remote mountain village in North Wales where she still lives and is now a grandmother.
Simon married Peggy Harper in 1969, but they split after having one son, Ben, in 1975. He then had a two-year marriage to Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher after proposing during a live New York Yankees baseball game in 1983. He has three children, Adrian, Lulu and Gabriel, with Edie Brickell, the singer with the 1980s band the New Bohemians, after they married in 1992.
The personnel that played on the Sounds Of Silence album included Paul Simon singing lead vocals, and playing guitar, Art Garfunkel also sang lead vocals, Fred Carter Jr. a Nashville musician who was a member of the Hawks, Glen Campbell, and Joe South who wrote ‘Games People Play’ and ‘Rose Garden’ all played guitar, Larry Knechtel a member of the Wrecking Crew was on keyboards, Joe Osborn a Los Angeles and Nashville session musician played bass guitar and the infamous Hal Blaine played drums. Simon won 12 Grammys both as a solo artist and with Simon and Garfunkel. His biggest hits include ‘Mrs. Robinson’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and ‘Graceland’. In 1990, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were both inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
This song utilizes a metaphor of applying rain to represent Paul Simon’s feelings toward his girlfriend Kathy, who he was separated from at the time. London is not the wettest city on earth, but it does rain rather frequently in Britain, and this is mostly due to the island being unfortunately located right in the path of the atmospheric jet stream, which would account for the association that Simon makes. Paul goes on to say that he is still thinking about her even though they are many miles away and he mentions how this is affecting his ability to write songs. All he can do is watch the rain and he feels like he is like the rain, but for the grace of Kathy he goes.
I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm continuing
Tapping on my roof and walls
And from the shelter of my mind
Through the window of my eyes
I gaze beyond the rain-drenched streets
To England where my heart lies
My mind’s distracted and diffused
My thoughts are many miles away
They lie with you when you’re asleep
And kiss you when you start your day
And as a song I was writing is left undone
I don’t know why I spend my time
Writing songs I can’t believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme
And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you
And as I watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you go I