Art Garfunkel is still bitter about the way Simon & Garfunkel split in 1971, describing his erstwhile partner Paul Simon as an “idiot” and a “jerk” for ending the group and lamenting that Simon had become a “monster.”
In a lengthy and revealing interview with the Telegraph, Garfunkel describes how he found it “strange” that they went their separate ways not long after releasing their biggest hit record to date, the phenomenally successful Bridge Over Troubled Water.
“It was very strange. Nothing I would have done. I want to open up about this. I don’t want to say any anti-Paul Simon things, but it seems very perverse to not enjoy the glory and walk away from it instead. Crazy. What I would have done is take a rest from Paul, because he was getting on my nerves. The jokes had run dry,” says Garfunkel adding that he envisaged them taking a year’s break from each other and resume duties as part of one of the world’s biggest musical acts at that time.
In the Telegraph interview, Garfunkel poses some questions out loud, ostensibly to his former partner: “How can you walk away from this lucky place on top of the world, Paul? What’s going on with you, you idiot? How could you let that go, jerk?”
Garfunkel then goes on to agree with the interviewer’s assertion that Simon may have had a Napoleon complex given his small stature and that became an issue between them. Garfunkel claims he became friends with Simon in school as he felt sorry for him because of his height, offering the shorter man friendship and love as compensation, he adds “that compensation gesture has created a monster.”
After their breakup, Simon went solo and found more success and Garfunkel went on to release his own solo material, act and teach math for a short while. “I’d just got married and moved to Connecticut, and there was a nearby preparatory school and so I taught math there. It was a weird stage of my life, to leave Simon & Garfunkel at the height of our success and become a math teacher. I would talk them through a math problem and ask if anyone had any questions and they would say: “What were the Beatles like?”
On the subject of the Beatles, Garfunkel reveals that George Harrison tried to empathize with him over the split with Simon. “George came up to me at a party once and said “my Paul is to me what your Paul is to you.” He meant that psychologically they had the same effect on us. The Pauls sidelined us. I think George felt suppressed by Paul and I think that’s what he saw with me and my Paul. Here’s the truth: McCartney was a helluva music man who gave the band its energy, but he also ran away with a lot of the glory.”
Since their breakup in 1971, Simon & Garfunkel performed together on and off over the years last appearing together in 2010, and Garfunkel is still open to touring together with Simon. “Will I do another tour with Paul? Well, that’s quite do-able. When we get together, with his guitar, it’s a delight to both of our ears. A little bubble comes over us and it seems effortless. We blend. So, as far as this half is concerned, I would say, ‘Why not, while we’re still alive?’
Garfunkel adds: “But I’ve been in that same place for decades. This is where I was in 1971.”
This article originally appeared in THR.com.