According to Charles Grodin, with Art Garfunkel voicing agreement, the instigator is none other than…
Revealed during a special [February 2013] screening of their controversial 1969 documentary Songs of America … Art Garfunkel and doc producer Charlie Grodin point the finger at Mike Nichols – the man who had featured Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” and “Scarborough Fair” in 1967’s The Graduate, for which he won the Oscar for best director.
Nichols had casted the duo in his 1970 film, Catch-22, then cut out Simon’s role. While Garfunkel was occupied with filming his parts in Mexico then in Rome, Simon was left in New York to produce their final album alone, Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Garfunkel, who made his acting debut in the film, agreed. He also cited the film’s as Simon’s motivation for penning the song “The Only Living Boy in New York.”
"The Only Living Boy In New York", a song with Simon lead vocals and Garfunkel singing the background, documented the feelings that out-casted partner felt: lonely, forsaken, and wishing for the best.
“Yes, Chuck’s gone right to the heart of the difficulty in Simon & Garfunkel when he says, ‘Artie and Paul were cast for Catch-22, and Paul’s part was dropped.’ That, of course, is an irritant of the first order. So I had Paul sort of waiting: ‘All right, I can take this for three months. I’ll write the songs, but what’s the fourth month? And why is Artie in Rome a fifth month? What’s Mike doing to Simon & Garfunkel?’ And so there’s Paul in the third month, still with a lot of heart, writing about, ‘I’m the only living boy in [New York]. You used to be the other one.’ ” (Q&A moderator Bruce Fretts, articles editor for TV Guide, then jokingly added, “Mike Nichols is the Yoko [Ono] of Simon & Garfunkel!”)
It’s ironic that Mike Nichols, the director who enlisted Simon & Garfunkel to soundtrack his 1967 film, The Graduate, is the same director who created a fissure in America’s most popular duo.
One can probably hear voices muttering, “What have you done, silly Mike Nichols? A nation turns its scornful eyes to you… Boo, boo, boo.”
Call it a catch-22, will you?
Posted in honor of Songs of America, a documentary that was intended to be featured at Simon & Garfunkel’s performance on November 30, 1969.