The Arty Semite

Why Simon & Garfunkel Split

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Mike Nichols is to Simon & Garfunkel as Yoko Ono is to The Beatles.

Getty Images

Art Garfunkel revealed at a recent panel discussion in New York that when the film director hired the duo to act in his 1970 film version of Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22,” — but then dropped Simon from the project — he did the partnership in.

“I had Paul sort of waiting: ‘All right, I can take this for three months. I’ll write the songs, but what’s the fourth month? And why is Artie in Rome [the filming location] a fifth month?’ What’s Mike doing to Simon & Garfunkel?’” Garfunkel recalled Simon’s take on the situation at the time.

Garfunkel spoke at an event following a special screening of his and Simon’s controversial 1969 documentary “Songs of America” on February 6 at New York’s Paley Center for Media.

Read more


Could Paul Simon Be Your Professor?

By Gary Shapiro

Courtesy of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Paul Simon is best known as a singer, songwriter and guitarist — not a college professor and academic. But Simon, who was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on October 1, had a brief stint in academia, teaching a songwriting class at New York University at the beginning of the 1970s.

This relatively little known aspect of the Simon’s career is discussed by David Browne in his new book, “Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970” (Da Capo Press, 2011).

Browne, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine, tells how Simon taught a weekly seminar in songwriting in the period just after he and Art Garfunkel quietly broke up. “One of my cousins auditioned for it,” said Browne. “He didn’t get in. He was a little too advanced.”

Read more


Paul Simon Wows Crowd in Tel Aviv

By Sara Miller

Crossposted from Haaretz

Daniel Bar-On
Paul Simon at a press conference in Tel Aviv on July 21.

It didn’t matter where you sat, stood or danced at Thursday night’s Paul Simon concert in Tel Aviv, the music swirled around you and swept you up. For such a large venue, there was an intimacy normally associated with club gigs, which emanated directly from the artist and extended right to the very back of the stadium, where the crowd danced, cheered and sang along just as enthusiastically as the lucky few at the very front.

There was no warm-up act. The man himself was on stage at almost exactly 8:30, and stayed put for more than two hours. In the sweltering heat of a Tel Aviv summer’s night, he energetically launched himself into song after song, pausing only to switch guitar, thank the crowd, and to make a brief, well-received prayer for peace. There was no bevy of backing dancers, just his standard combo of supremely gifted musicians from all around the world; Thursday night Cameroon and South Africa were represented on the Tel Aviv stage.

Read more at Haaretz.com

Read more


Out and About: A Modern Tower of Babel; Paul Simon and 'A Pure Moment of Sobbing Joy'

By Ezra Glinter

Getty Images
  • The Library of Congress has launched an online “National Jukebox” of some 10,000 historical recordings.

  • The New York Times profiles guitarist Gary Lucas on the occasion of his new CD, “The Ordeal of Civility.”

  • Argentine artist Marta Minujine has built a 25-meter Tower of Babel out of 30,000 books.

  • A student remembers Yeshiva University economics professor Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine.

Read more


A Mélange of Musical May Days

By Benjamin Ivry

As May rolls around for Manhattan music lovers, ‘tis the season for appreciating the works of George Kleinsinger, whose much-loved orchestral work “Tubby the Tuba” will be performed on April 30 in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater by The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Symphonic Band.

Kleinsinger wrote “Tubby” in 1941, about the possibly hidden virtues of difference in a world darkened by Fascist uniformity, just as one year later, he would contribute a song, “Queen Esther,” glorifying the heroine who defeated Haman, to a Broadway review about victory over Hitler, entitled “Of V We Sing,” a punning reference to the Gershwin musical hit “Of Thee I Sing.”

More pop music pizzazz may be heard from May 3 to May 5, when the sibling songstresses Liz Callaway and Ann Hampton Callaway perform at Birdland music of the 60s and 70s by Carole King, Carly Simon, and Paul Simon. Opera fans will note that May is hitherto the official Regina Resnik Appreciation Month, for the great Bronx-born mezzo-soprano, 89, has vocal-coached a new production of Verdi’s Falstaff to be performed by The Mannes Opera on May 5 and May 6.

Read more


Out and About: Phillip Lopate on Simon Schama; New Director for the Folksbiene

By Ezra Glinter

Wiki Commons
Portal to the renovated synagogue in Ostrow Wielkopolski, Poland.
  • Essayist Phillip Lopate ponders “Scribble, Scribble, Scribble” a new miscellany by historian Simon Schama.

  • Has Paul Simon been getting the attention he deserves?

  • The Canadian Jewish News profiles former Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler.

  • Two synagogue restoration projects in Poland have won awards, one of them for “façade of the year.”

  • Bryna Wasserman, artistic director of the Segal Centre for Performing Arts in Montreal, is leaving that post to become the executive director of the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre in New York.

Read more


Vampire Weekend Called Out for Being WASPy

By Mordechai Shinefield

When is a Jewish kid from the Upper West Side actually an Ivy League White Anglo-Saxon Protestant? Apparently when the Chicago Reader decides that they don’t like the band Vampire Weekend. Music critic Jessica Hopper called out the band, fronted by the very Jewish Ezra Koenig, last week in an article that accused the band of being a bunch of privileged white kids.

He bandies about the ethnic heritage of Vampire Weekend’s members (he’s Jewish, Rostam Batmanglij is Iranian), but ‘One of my bandmates is Iranian-American’ has got to be the Pitchfork-nation equivalent of ‘Some of my best friends are black.’

Read more



Would you like to receive updates about new stories?






















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.