It sounds crazy….it IS crazy. But in the spring of 1969 a chance meeting between Paul Simon and Frank Zappa resulted in a surprise reunion of ’50s teen idols Tom & Jerry — by then aged and visibly decrepit — stumbling through a set of their oldies, then coming back for a show-ending encore of “Sound of Silence” performed with doo-wop flourishes and sexy asides (“Let’s do it in silence, baby…”)
Mr. Zappa picks up the story in his memoir, The Real Frank Zappa Book.
I was in Manny’s Musical Instruments in New York sometime in 1969, and it was raining outside. A little
guy came walking in, kind of wet, and introduced himself as Paul Simon. He said he wanted me to come to dinner at his house that night, and gave me the address. I said okay and went there.
As I walked in the door, Paul was on his hands and knees in front of what appeared to be a Magnavox stereo — the same model preferred by “the Stumbler” from Sun Village. He had his ear right up to the speaker, listening to a Django Reinhardt record. Within moments — for no apparent reason — he announced that he was upset because he had to pay six hundred thousand dollars in income tax that year.
This was completely unsolicited information, and I thought to myself, If only I could earn six hundred thousand dollars. What did you have to earn in order to have to pay that much tax? Then Art Garfunkel came in, and we talked and talked. They hadn’t been on the road in a long time, and were reminiscing about the ‘good old days.’ I didn’t realize that they used to be called Tom & Jerry, and that they once had a hit song called “Hey, Schoolgirl in the Second Row.” I said, “Well, I can understand your desire to experience the joys of touring once again, and so I’ll make you this offer. . . we’re playing in Buffalo tomorrow night. Why don’t you guys come up there and open for us as Tom & Jerry? I won’t tell anybody. Just get your stuff and go out there and sing ‘Hey, Schoolgirl in the Second Row’ — just play only your old stuff, no Simon & Garfunkel tunes.” They loved the idea and said they would do it.
They did the opener as Tom & Jerry; we played our show, and at the encore I told the audience, “I’d like to bring back our friends to do another number.” They came out and played “Sound of Silence.” At that point it dawned on everybody that this was the one, and only, the magnificent SIMON & GARFUNKEL. On the way out, after the show, a college-educated woman walked over to me and said, “Why did you do that? Why did you make fun of Simon & Garfunkel?” — as if I had pulled some kind of cruel joke on them. What the fuck did she think had just happened? That these two SUPERSTARS had dropped in out of nowhere and we had FORCED them to sing “OOO-boppa-loochy-bah, she’s mine!”?