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End of the road for a pop icon

His UK concerts this autumn may be the last chance to see Paul Simon playing live. By Simon Evans

It has never been easy being a Simon and Garfunkel fan. I know, am one. Admitting you admired their music was not something you did in fashionable company, or at least at my boarding school. They didn’t fit the Seventies fashion for glam, disco, punk, hard rock or Eighties style over substance, and during the Nineties they seemed to disappear altogether.

Even during the duo’s Sixties heyday, when Paul and Artie produced such timeless classics as Homeward Bound, Bridge Over Troubled Water, The Sound of Silence, Mrs Robinson and Feelin’ Groovy, they didn’t really fit in.

At the 1967 Monterey Festival, while all around them was love, flowers and exhortations to tune in and drop out, Simon and Garfunkel were performing Bergmanesque vignettes of abandoned love and quirky little ditties about Corn Flakes and English muffins. And while Richard Neville, in Playpower, his survey of the late Sixties counterculture, described Paul Simon’s songs as “beautiful antique poetry” you wouldn’t have found too many fashionable types at the time taking along Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends album to their next rave.

Thankfully that has all changed now, and 30 years after being vilified for Graceland, his exhilarating, career-defining excursion into South African pop, Paul Simon is sitting on top of the album charts again, revered by a new generation of music-lovers weaned on You Can Call Me Al rather than I Am A Rock.

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