VS: There was a holiday, Christmas song that got released on a Simon and Garfunkel record. It was “Silent Night.”
VS: Can you tell me the story of how the “7 O’Clock News” became a part of “Silent Night”? To this day this recording gives me goosebumps.
AG: Well, it’s a clever idea, and it’s all Paul’s idea, this is Paul’s notion. He knew-we wanted to do a Christmas song, and, you see, when I was in my college days, I was part of an octet that did jazz stuff, ala The Hi-Lo’s, so I learned a lot of adventurous harmonies, and I learned how to sing ninths and hold these very strange dissonant notes in a cluster chord and really keep my independence of melody, even when it was very unmelodic stuff. That was good training. And we used to do our own “Silent Night” in our program in college, so I had that in my back pocket. Paul wanted, said, “Let’s do a Christmas song, and I have a wonderful idea of weaving against a news broadcast. The news will be all the garish things that make up our modern life,” and then I said, “Okay, then let me bring in ‘Silent Night’ because that’s the perfect counterpoint that’ll be so sweet and like a lamb.” And it’s the only record we ever did where I sent my own self out to the studio and played an instrument.
AG: So I, so I’m the piano player. I never knew I could do that, you know, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. You have a vision of a record, and you just get yourself to perform and fill it in. And we were in L.A., we got the newscaster to go through the ticker tape and find the news broadcast that we-well, we picked the things we liked. Naturally, we put Lenny Bruce in there, and the rest is just play with the volume so that one fades in as the other fades out.
[Plays “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night”]
VS: Capital “R.” There is a record that is a Record.
AG: That’s a documentary.
VS: That is such a slice of history. God, and like I said, goosebumps every time.
AG: Yeah. Me, too.
VS: Yeah. “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night” originally on the Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme album, it was recorded, interestingly enough, in the summer of '66. It was recorded in August of 1966, and it’s part of this wonderful new 3-CD set that has just come out called Old Friends/Simon & Garfunkel. You’ve been very lucky, Art Garfunkel, to work with a couple of the great songwriters…