There is really nothing like getting ready for doing a monumental-sized tour. I experienced this many times, but nothing was quite of the scope as was the Simon and Garfunkel summer world tour of 1983.
I had already done a wonderful national tour of 48 cities with Art Garfunkel as a solo artist in 1978, and had been giving Paul Simon guitar lessons in 1982 when they finally asked me to do the world tour. It was immediately a strange, as well as exhuberant experience. Strange because it was such a large band, about 13 pieces all told, and also because it was hard to believe that all this secretive, clandestine rehearsing was going to lead to playing this stuff in front of nearly 70,000 people each night! It was as if you develop a syndrome of being in an incubated environment, where there is no outside world to speak of. It made me think that perhaps this is what many of the large groups experience, such as The Stones, McCartney and the like. After all, it HAS to be relatively sheltered from the outside world for obvious reasons, but if you’ve noticed, many times, these kinds of groups have little “surprise” gigs they do before kicking off their big stadium tours. I think this is really for the band itself, to develop a sense of reality before it all gets so “unreal” again. Because no matter how you slice it, playing before crowds like that is totally surreal, and steps way beyond the bounds of normal musical interaction!
Well, after what seemed like months and months of rehearsals, with no reaction from anyone but ourselves, we were finally ready to embark on the tour, and to hit the big stadiums. I can rarely recall the kind of tension that was in the air as we all anticipated hitting the stage at the “Rubber Bowl”, in Akron, Ohio. We were even stuck in the traffic jam that was going to the stadium, just as the radio in the car said we were about to go on stage in 5 minutes!! Now way was THAT happening….we were at least a half-hour from playing, and were already the first in a long line of road manger-induced casualties!
I can recall some of the band members jumping up and down in place in the backstage area, like before a fight! Some just calmly sitting in a corner, tuning up…….I think I was maybe on the phone with my wife and then my parents, just telling them how full of anticipation I truly was at this incredible moment! The, we hit the stage, and you can never anticipate people running onstage to tear off your clothes when you’re playing something like “Scarborough Fair”, or “Mrs. Robinson”, but that’s what happened! Then, you think, “is this really what’s going to go on here?” It’s very distancing, because you realize you’re part of an “event”, or “happening”, as opposed to something where people really care about what you’re playing, or even more so, HOW you play!!! Strange indeed…more next time!
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