Simon and Garfunkel perform "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard" during their 1981 performance in Central Park, which WOUB-HD will air on August 4 at 9 p.m.

‘Simon and Garfunkel: the Concert in the Park’ to Air August 4

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In 1980, Central Park, New York City’s “green lung,” lay in disrepair. Although the park had been officially deemed a National Historic Landmark in 1962, by the ’80s, NYC just didn’t have the municipal funds necessary to keep up with the park’s maintenance. As a result, the Central Park Conservatory was created in 1980, and the group quickly began brainstorming ways to raise the enormous amount of money they would need to get the park back in shape.

The organization approached Simon and Garfunkel, the iconic folk duo hailing from Forest Hills, Queens, who had parted ways some 11 years earlier after the release of their critically lauded Bridge Over Troubled Water album, as a potential performer to attract an audience to Central Park for a fundraising concert. Although both parties were enthusiastic, Paul Simon initially expressed some hesitance, as he had just dealt with the fallout from his poorly received autobiographical movie, One-Trick Pony.

However, eventually both parties (who notoriously did not get along,) agreed to perform in Central Park on September 19, 1981, attracting a crowd of around 500,000 people — making it the seventh largest attendance to a concert in United States history. The 21-song concert, which included both the iconic picks from the duo’s discography (“Mrs. Robinson,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “The Boxer,”) and from Simon’s solo work (“American Tune,” “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,”) raised around $51,000 for the redevelopment and maintenance of Central Park.

Although the concert and subsequent live album (released February 16, 1982) were critically hailed, neither Simon nor Garfunkel were particularly pleased with the performance. Garfunkel has said in interviews since the event that he felt that he did not sing that well, and Simon openly admitted that he “didn’t get what had happened – how big it was – until I went home, turned on the television and saw it on all the news … and later that night on the front pages of all the newspapers. Then I got it.” in a February 1984 interview with Playboy.

The duo still went on a wildly successful world tour following the concert, although they haven’t worked in terribly close proximity ever since.

On Friday, August 4 at 9 p.m., WOUB-HD will air Simon and Garfunkel: The Concert in Central Park, just in time for you to enjoy all of Simon and Garfunkel’s greatest hits as the summer comes to a steamy close.

On a similar note, Ohio University Performing Arts Series will welcome The Simon and Garfunkel Story to the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium on October 4 at 7:30 p.m. The show, which just went sold out on London’s West End, is a theatrical musical tale of two young men from New York City who catapult to worldwide fame. Sounds familiar, huh? Tickets are available now.