I stumbled upon this fantastic image in an extremely thoughtful and well-written article by Richie Unterberger on “folk-rock findings” that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame posted a few days ago. After assessing some fascinating magazine ads featuring Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Gene Clark, and Janis Ian, Unterberger ends with a real corker, a full-page magazine ad from March 1967 promoting Simon & Garfunkel’s then-new single “At the Zoo,” off of their album Bookends, complete with cute little “panda-Paul” and cute little “lion-Art” in the foreground.
Here’s guessing Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel did not see or approve this ad before it got printed in March 1967. Maybe Garfunkel wouldn’t have minded being cast as the lion, but it’s hard to see Simon being pleased to be the panda.
I suppose Unterberger could have a point here, but I don’t think so. First of all, the song ain’t exactly “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” it’s “At the Zoo,” one of their more whimsical, not to mention kid-friendly, ditties. Second, Simon & Garfunkel weren’t idiots: they were and are creatures of commerce as well as of art, and they probably weren’t all that opposed to whatever approach would land them the biggest hit. (For the record, it reached #16 on the U.S. charts.)
Third, and most important, that image wasn’t limited to print advertising by any means—it was the cover of the single! Did they have no control over this image, after three successful albums and the Graduate soundtrack?
Well, either way you should still read Unterberger’s article. He makes a lot of good points about the evolution of the marketing of folk-rock during that period.
Here’s a wonderful clip from the UK of S&G performing “At the Zoo” for what seems like a TV audience, but it’s obviously being performed live, not lip-synced.
Posted by Martin Schneider |