Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
When you read any book on music or the arts you want it written with authority, painstakingly so, it needs to have at some point the feeling of the last word expertly laid down on the pages and no matter whose book you read on the subject, be it even the artist’s, you want that feeling of completion to there in your hands at that precise moment.
It is a feeling you get whenever you read or get to talk to Liverpool’s fountain of knowledge Spencer Leigh, the feeling of authority, of security in his works and one that is sanctioned completely by the love that he has for his subject. To write about The Beatles is one thing, but to take on arguably the greatest Folk duo of all time, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and dissect them and their recording life and their private intentions is one that could be seen as making mischief upon a mountain you will never see the summit from. The relationship of the two men, the music they made and the undeniable tension that still exists today, some 60 odd years after they originally met and became friends.
Simon & Garfunkel: Together Alone, is a statement, let alone a book title by one of the leading music lovers in Liverpool, it perfectly illustrates, sometimes uncomfortably so, that no matter how much you may love a band or a set of recording artists, you can never truly understand what goes on in their heads or in the song lyrics they create and sing.
The beauty of the two is a mixed emotion, without Art Garfunkel’s incredible and at times incredibly emotional voice on their biggest hits it can be suggested that Paul Simon might not have had the huge success as a solo artist for the last 45 years, conversely without Paul Simon’s lyrical volcano, without Simon’s mastery of the English language, Art Garfunkel would possibly have stayed in academia all his life; the unfilled desire and the charm of so many haunting songs left in the imagination and never realised.
What Spencer Leigh brings to the fans, to those who seek nothing more than the music or even those who wish to have the days of the 60s Folk scene back is a sense of timeless interruption, of two men, albeit noticeably more lop sided towards Paul Simon, who could not walk away from each other completely, who even now might one day appear on a stage together one last time and still have the ability to annoy and frustrate each other with their perfection and their one sided maddening one upmanship.
Simon & Garfunkel: Together Alone is a classic tale of two young men coming together to make music, yet never quite finding the true course of musical love that could keep them in sync, reminiscent of the story of another Paul and his friend John, creativity brought them mutual respect but without the other by their side, arguably not as enjoyable to listen to.
Spencer Leigh once more opens the door on to a partnership that could not be fulfilled and one that makes the reader feel the pain of abandon and isolation all too clearly. A writer of complete honesty who doesn’t sugar coat the distractions faced by both songwriter and singer and who urges you to fall for the sound of silence and the poetic beat once more.
Simon & Garfunkel: Together Alone by Spencer Leigh is released by McNidder & Grace on September 22nd.
Ian D. Hall