"Simon & Garfunkel - Together Alone" is the latest music biography by renowned Merseyside author and broadcaster Spencer Leigh. It follows hot on the heels of his authoritative biography of Frank Sinatra titled "Frank Sinatra:An Extraordinary Life".
Spencer has previously written a biography of Paul Simon ["Paul Simon: Now and Then"] but that was way back in 1973 and this new book covers the whole of Paul Simon's and Art Garfunkel's musical careers from the late 1950's right up to the present day.
By a happy coincidence ,the publication of this book comes at a time when Paul Simon has undergone a major creative resurgence with his best album in many years , "Stranger to Stranger". Thus,the Bookends on a high note [ but not quite as high as the last notes of "Bridge Over Troubled Water"].
As with all of Spencer Leigh's work, the research is meticulous and does not contain the irritating factual errors that creep into many music biographies. The book tells the story of how Simon and Garfunkel first got together as Tom and Jerry in 1957, enjoyed six hugely successful years as Simon and Garfunkel and then went their separate ways [ as the book's title suggests] and along the way Spencer considers each of their recordings [both together and solo] in some detail. There is also a comprehensive discography at the end of the book, which I found extremely helpful.
What I particularly like about this book is that Spencer goes out of his way to put the various stages in the careers of Simon and Garfunkel into context. For example, when dealing with Paul's thirteen month sojourn in England in 1965 , Spencer vividly describes the Folk Club scene of that time, with luminaries such as Davey Graham, Bert Jansch and Martin Carthy ,all of whom had a considerable influence on Paul Simon [not to mention Scarborough Fair].
Similarly, in the chapter which deals with Paul Simon's successful foray into world music, "Graceland", Spencer considers several much earlier examples of the influence of African music in the UK and the USA , citing artists such as Harry Belafonte,Miriam Makeba and Manu Dibango.
On a personal note, I especially enjoyed the detailed description of a concert given by Art Garfunkel, Buddy Mondlock and Maia Sharp in 2002 ,to promote the album "Everything Waits To Be Noticed". The concert took place at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool and I was there. It was rather special to hear Art singing some of Simon and Garfunkel's best-known songs ,as well as his own solo hits. Having arrived early at "the Phil" ,I passed Art on the stairs and we exchanged smiles but I didn't have the nerve to ask for his autograph!
Back to the book . If you want an accurate but entertaining account of the story of Simon and Garfunkel [together and apart] , then look no further than this excellent and definitive account.