When Paul Met Artie: The Story of Simon & Garfunkel

Image of When Paul Met Artie: The Story of Simon & Garfunkel
Release Date: 
March 19, 2018
Reviewed by: 

Along the lines of the musicals Jersey Boys (Franky Valli and the Four Seasons) and Beautiful (Carol King), the dual biography When Paul Met Artie tells the story of the famous singing duo, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. These two talented boys came together in sixth grade to harmonize their way to teenaged stardom. The story starts in Queens, New York, where Paul hears a perfectly pitched Artie sing in the fourth grade talent show. Paul wished he could sing like that.

Paul’s dad had a music store, and he gave Paul a guitar and taught him basic chords. Artie was born with talent. Paul had to work at it. The boys became friends in sixth grade when they were both cast in the play Alice in Wonderland. Paul had been waiting for his chance to get to know the boy with the smooth singing voice.

As the book goes on to tell of the duo’s rise to fame in high school and then their years apart before they came back together to record their groundbreaking album, The Sounds of Silence, the reader learns many things about Paul’s tenacity and Artie’s talent. Paul became a song writer during his travels to Europe. His first big sale was the song, “Red Rubber Ball,” which he co-wrote with Bruce Woodley.

When the two guys met up after college, Artie asked Paul if he had any new songs. Paul had written “The Sounds of Silence” after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Artie liked it, and the duo was back together.

The book is laid out like a newspaper, with three long columns on each page, except the lines vary in length, so it looks like poetry. Paul Simon was a poet, an English major, while Art was more into math. Each page of poetry is opposite a single spread of art by David Litchfield. This formula follows almost to the end, except where two double spreads have the story in the middle with split art on either side, buildings of Queens, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

The art is architectural on half of the pages and portrait-like on the other half. Elvis even makes a showing, since he was a big influence on Paul. Each double page has a title, often the name of a song or album by the pair. The book’s large 10 x 12 inch trim size gives Litchfield plenty of room to put a whole city behind Paul on guitar in one spread. The colors pop off the pages. The blue endpapers match the letters in the title. Many spreads have sparkling lights, stars, and autumn leaves.

The book is packed with trivia about the pair and will be a frequently-checked out book for biography reports. Grandparents will buy the books for the upper elementary aged grandchildren, since they grew up with Simon and Garfunkel’s music.

The back matter includes an afterword, discography (list of their records), bibliography of ten sources, and a three-page musical connections section telling which songs influenced the pair along the way. 

When Paul Met Artie is a colorful, factual, enjoyable account of two lives and how they intertwined to become the voices of a generation.