In the fall of 1964, folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel released their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3AM. Originally named Tom and Jerry, the Queens NY duo had scored a minor hit in the New York area several years before with “Hey School Girl” before they drifted apart. With the New York folk scene in full swing, the duo regrouped in the early 60s to start performing together again.
Though they would go on to great success, the debut is patchy at best. It is mix of folk standards (“Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream”/ “The Times They Are A-changin’”), gospel music (“Go Tell It On The Mountain”), and several original compositions written by Simon. The harmonies on the album are quite good but the duo bring little grit or soul to the traditional songs and instead come across as a squeaky-clean version of many of their peers.
Of the originals, “Bleecker Street” is a nice track about Greenwich Village. “He Was My Brother” is a good if earnest eulogy written by Simon about his friend Andrew Goodman who was killed in Mississippi at the hands of the KKK along with Michael Schwerner and James Chaney. The most famous song here is the original version of “Sounds of Silence”. Here the track appears backed by just an acoustic guitar, unadorned with the instrumentation later added by producer Tom Wilson that turned it into a folk-rock classic. Soon after the release, Simon moved to London but was later called back to NY by Garfunkel when the remixed version of “The Sounds of Silence” became a #1 smash hit. Unfortunately, there is little here that is essential to the Simon and Garfunkel story. The best thing is probably the album cover. Seen as old fashioned by some at the time, viewed through the Mad Men 60s prism, it is a classic shot of upstart young New Yorkers busking in the underground.