When Paul Simon announced a massive free concert in New York’s Central Park in 1991, everybody had one question: Would he use the occasion to reunite with Art Garfunkel? The duo had famously reunited in Central Park 10 years earlier for a hugely successful show, and they spent the next two years touring stadiums around the globe. But things fell apart when Simon erased Garfunkel’s lyrics from a planned reunion album in 1983 (ultimately released as Hearts and Bones), and their relationship was highly strained through the rest of the Eighties and into the early Nineties.
The day before the show, the New York Times ran an interview with a clearly dejected Art Gafunkel. “I’m not good enough to be invited,” he said. “My guess is that it would hurt his sense of stature.” He told reporter Douglas Martin that he planned on leaving the city on the day of the concert. “I’d rather wish Paul from afar,” he said, adding that he didn’t even ask his former partner about the possibility of a reunion. “Paul and I communicate as if we almost know what the other’s thinking,” he said. “I just sensed he wasn’t going to ask me to sing in the show.”
The show was a huge success despite the absence of Garfunkel, and fans were still treated to a reunion of sorts: Chevy Chase came onstage to resurrect his dance from the “You Can Call Me Al” video. Simon admitted he forgot the dance, and his attempt to copy Chase’s moves distracted him to the point where he forgot some of the words, but it was still a fun moment in a show that was otherwise meticulously rehearsed.
Just two years later, Simon & Garfunkel reunited for a 21-night stand at New York’s Paramount Theater. They did a handful of charity gigs later that year, but they didn’t actually launch a proper tour until 2003.