Setting aside the famous fractures of their friendship, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel reunited Sunday to open the Grammy Awards show with their Vietnam era ballad “The Sound of Silence.”
The folk-rock duo, which sold millions of records in the 1960s before breaking up, was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Grammys. Other such honorees included Etta James, Johnny Mathis, Glenn Miller and Tito Puente.
Simon and Garfunkel have reunited periodically since ending their partnership, but this was believed to be their first performance together since 1993.
Their appearance led to speculation that they may tour together, but Garfunkel said there have been no such discussions.
“It’s possible,” Simon said backstage. “We don’t have any plans.”
After singing, accompanied only by Simon’s acoustic guitar, the pair put their arms around each other’s backs – and they received a standing ovation.
“I can’t think of a more fitting way to open the show than Simon and Garfunkel, who defined a generation,” said Dustin Hoffman, one of many presenters.
While no mention was made of the 36-year-old connection, “The Sound of Silence” is part of the soundtrack to “The Graduate,” the 1967 film that launched Hoffman’s career.
Simon and Garfunkel said they were aware that “The Sound of Silence” could be taken as a political statement with war brewing, but that they weren’t looking to use the forum for this purpose.
“We’re aware that it has resonance for the times, yes,” Garfunkel said. “But we chose it because it was the first hit we ever had and it put sort of a bookend on our career.”
The New York-bred duo was known for a vocal blend that enlivened hits like “The Boxer,” “Mrs. Robinson” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Offstage, these old friends had trouble creating the same harmony. When he was inducted as a solo artist into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, Simon said of Garfunkel, “I regret the ending of our friendship, and I hope that one day before I die we will make peace with each other.
After the audience applauded warmly, Simon deadpanned, “No rush.”