Truth About Simon and Garfunkel Sounds of Silence

UPDATE NOV. 30, 2014

Columbia Records, Sony and RIAA have finally gotten it right and issued the proper credit on the single and album in question and here it is. I will be doing a follow up post but meanwhile, here is the RIAA Three Time Multi-Platinum Award with the Official RIAA engraving. No fakes, all genuine. It only took fifty years but is is done.

 

SOS CREDITS

 

And here is the award. Please pass it along to your friends who doubted and some of whom shouted, “sour grapes.”  I am totally proud of this!

 

SOS RIAA AWARD

 

ORIGINAL POST CONTINUES HERE

Simon and Garfunkel could have fixed this credits problem a bunch of years ago, but they didn’t. Paul knew but chose not to and the other guy rode to fame with them.

When it appears that someone may have stolen from you, covers it up, and gets away with it, you have not so fond memories about it with the possible loss of many thousands of $$$ from it hurting you big-time.

No sour grapes intended, but recording credits really do matter. And I could name a couple clichés that might fit. But I just want to finally get the truth out there once and for all to finally set the Simon and Garfunkel story straight on what may be one of the biggest credit thefts in music recording history. Some might say THE biggest. Note that I say “may” and “might” based on my knowledge of the facts. And I’d be willing to swear in an Affidavit that these are the facts.

When I came to Columbia in ’63, I am proud to say, I was the top pop editor-mixer for some time, and favorite of most all of their pop A&R producers. Unspoken was that we actually co-produced with most producers who put it all in our hands of how a record should sound. It was a few years later, when our begging for credits finally became a reality, and I finally got my first Gold Record with the Looking Glass’s Brandy.

In the sixties the norm at Columbia Records was that studio engineers laid down the tracks and we mixers edited and molded the final mix. The studios even had rotary pots. For the layman, those are the volume controls for each microphone or tape track. Any engineer will tell you that they are totally impossible to properly mix with. One could never achieve what I did on the single and the album working with rotary pots. But that’s what the Columbia studios had until our move to Fifty Second Street.

They called us “editors” but we mixed and gave the records the final sound, and then the mastering engineer, with tasteful limiting, not messing with eq, echo and stuff done nowadays in mastering, then got the highest level possible on the disc. Just off the street, and having worked (singing and playing) in just about every studio in town, I was the only engineer at Columbia who knew and understood rock at that time, with my limiters, compressors and equalizers cooking. The other engineers laughed at me and ridiculed me. But I managed to get the highest and hottest level possible for the mastering engineer. Classical producers hated me and one die hard union engineer threatened me when I laid out a musical score on the console to read. That’s another good story.

This was just a few years before we engineers pleaded and begged, and finally got credits on records. But it was too late in this case and a few more. On July 26, 1965, A&R producer Tom Wilson brought some newly overdubbed tracks down from Columbia’s 799 7th Ave Studio A to my mix room 607 to mix. They were Simon and Garfunkel’s original tapes of Sounds (or Sound) of  Silence and Somewhere with Bobby Gregg’s drums and some guitars added, I believe, by Vinnie Bell and Bucky Pizzarelli. I pulled out all the stops and made the mono mix. And here are those mix notes.

 

SIMON  GARFUNKEL S O S MIX crop072665

My mixing notes from Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence mono mix, July 26, 1965

Engineers reading here might notice the heavy high end Pultec equalization boost on the voices, low end roll-off at 60 Hz and 200 Hz boost to get the bass to sound on small speakers like the one I mixed on (See photo). Being a bass player, this was my little secret. It goes without saying that I had a limiter in each of the four channels. Note that, that night and the next day I mixed the great Teo Macero’s Sax Fifth Avenue album, which is out there to this day, and once again with no credit to me. Five days before that, see notes of mixing a Judith Raskin single.

Paul Simon was in Europe at the time, returned a few weeks later and we drove together in my car and played a bar mitzvah club date together in Jersey, whereas I told him of the events. I also moonlighted playing and singing with bands and the bandleaders would usually hire a guitar player to join the conventional dance band to play and sing some rock songs of the day, thus, why Paul was there. His daddy, Lou Simon was my competitor, who also was a bass player with the club date bands. See about Lou Simon 

Fib Lafayette speaker # 99-4551 - Copy

My little speaker I used to mix my mono records on, and also use to this day like an earphone to sing 

Their record made it to the top and Simon and Garfunkel were back in the studio and more overdubbing with Tom Wilson (with rotary pots). And here is how it was glossed over in a 2005 interview when the interviewee admitted that Simon and Garfunkel had no idea this was happening, and he said, “Paul was in England and Artie was off teaching somewhere. And we do these overdubs, and it’s released, and Sounds of Silence became a huge hit, and all of a sudden it’s “get these guys back!”

Note that he doesn’t say here that he mixed it, but obviously, to the unwary reader it is implied and understood. It is assumed he did it all. He says “And we do these overdubs, and it’s released.” He obviously forgot what he had said moments before in the interview with the facts about studio and edit-mix rooms at Columbia: “In those days, the studios were studios, the editing room was an editing room, and the mastering room was a mastering room-all separate. Dates were done, the tapes came into an editing room where they were edited and mixed down to a two-track and a mono, from there to a mastering room.”

He says, “the tapes came into an editing room where they were edited and mixed.” Later, as Sounds of Silence was climbing the charts, Tom Wilson came to me to mix the mono Simon and Garfunkel album. And Tom brought Bob Johnston in and he mixed the stereo album with Mike Figlio. Johnston also took all the credit down the line in his interviews. The stereos at that time were really throwaways since mono ruled.

Months later, we moved to 49 East 52nd Street. Unbeknownst to me, the studio engineer had stepped in and taken all the credit obviously implying he was the hero who did it all, especially the original mix and the album mixes, using the studio rotary pots yet. Tom Wilson was no longer there and Bob Johnson was on the scene.

RoughmixdDon overdubbing a world record

Me in 1967 singing with my little speaker using the first one inch 16 track at Columbia. Yeah, that’s the machine they recorded Bridge Over Troubled Waters on.

1DONSINGPHOTO

Me, today overdubbing and still using the little speaker. Note the Gold Record (The Looking Glass) behind me was one of the first with engineer credits. It would be nice to have one of the Multi-Platinum Awards of Simon and Garfunkel hanging next to it and Dylan’s later Multi- Platinum Desire and Hard Rain.

Then came Bridge Over Troubled Waters. I was proudly moonlighting, paying dues to SAG, AFTRA, Local 802 Musicians Union and Local 1212 Electrical Workers Union, and Clive Davis had signed me to sing four sides on Columbia. So, I booked time through the Columbia A&R Department. I was busily recording my Columbia sides with our new one inch 16 track machine. And then one day, my boss came and ordered me to release it to Simon and Garfunkel and the “other” engineer, and deliver it to them in Studio B.

This was the studio engineer who, from all indications, had taken all the credit for their new hit and was now a big man at Black Rock and Simon and Garfunkel’s hero. There was more behind the scenes politics that had taken place before and after our move to the new studios, whereas we had new mix rooms and some studio engineers were mixing in the studios. So, I rolled the monster on down to Studio B and also invited myself to listen to Cecelia. It was a throwaway. Never make it, they thought. Everyone hated it and I guess I pissed them off when I said it was really good and I liked it. During a break I invited Paul up to my mix room to hear a cover record that Columbia Arranger-Producer Ed Shanaphy had me singing on Sounds of Silence for the Columbia Record Club. He even hired Bucky and Vinnie to play on my cover record. Paul stood there with his mouth open and uttered, “Wow! It sounds like us.” Duh! Well, that, along with my other covers singing Almost Persuaded, Jackson, and Gentle On my Mind, at least it got me AFTRA scale, sounding like the ones who did them originally and had the hits. 

As Paul started to leave the mix room I cornered him and reminded him once again that I had done the original mix that launched them to stardom on Sounds of Silence and his words were, ”But I thought ___ did it.” Right, he did all that fancy mixing in the studio using rotary pots. And I said, “No, man. And I told you all about this on that Jersey club date.”  There was no response but just a blank stare. “Enjoy the machine,” I said, as he walked out. I was still pissed that they interrupted my sessions and  took the 16 track machine away from me. But I was just a nobody.

DON CASHBOX AD - Copy

Well, at least Columbia promoted my Al Kooper creation of House in the Country with a nice big ad in Cashbox 

And so, I had to wait for them to finish “Bridge” before I could finish overdubbing my sides, one of which was a world record of overdubbed voices. Who knows if maybe I had had the mixing credit on Sounds of Silence, my name would have been seen by millions and one of my records may have jumped out there. Weird, that if you click on this website  there is copy of House in the Country for $130. One of my other releases with about thirty overdubbed voices at that time was My Silent Symphony, that you can hear if you click here. I only wish that a DJ somewhere would start playing it again and create a new buzz on it. It still sounds great, I think, and not dated. Tell me what you think with a comment.

After “Bridge” it was more fame and fortune for Simon and Garfunkel with the other guy riding along with his best kept secret about the credits. I guess he was deciding that nothing would be undone since my name would never be printed on the labels and couldn’t prove anything. After all, no one would know nor care. I saw Paul once after that. They had split up and he was in the studio with a different producer-engineer.

I guess I could rationalize and say that maybe the other guy never said he mixed it, but just rode along for the ride with the implication and certainly cashed in. Well, I’d like to undo it and I believe the world needs to know, even if it is almost 50 years later.  I am damn proud of that mix.

I’ll say now to Paul “fix it. You knew. It’s never too late. Since Tom Wilson is no longer with us to dispute other claims by Bob Johnston who also took credit, you knew that I did the mix that started you on the way to being international stars. This is especially after my recently reading that Paul Simon is a 12-time Grammy winner and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I can truthfully say that I was also one who helped you get there.

Strangely, the Columbia box #5029  that I initialed containing the mono tape and signed on that date, was replaced and the mono tapes and mono album that I mixed were nowhere to be found according to a source. They don’t exist. But my mix & equalizer notes do exist from that day and those notes are here for all to see. And I don’t lie. And if anyone disbelieves my notes, I invite you to have them checked for the timing of the forty-nine or so years that have passed, and the age of the paper. Of course, there will be doubters. There always are and I guess they’re entitled. But if they want to do any proving, they can play the stereo and the mono side by side and listen for the extreme high end EQ and play on small speakers and check the bass on my mixes.

And so, I propose that Columbia/Sony take the mono vinyl album and re-master it with the proper credit and give some credit where credit is due.

48 thoughts on “Truth About Simon and Garfunkel Sounds of Silence”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I certainly hope that the mono mixes are released at some point with your credit finally listed. I have a few noisy 60s mono pressings and they are much more cohesive and punchy than the stereo, so I’d love to pick up new clean pressings.. Thanks for all the enjoyment your work has provided over the years.

    Like

    1. Hi Jason,
      Thanks for your comment. These kind of sentiments mean a lot and reminds me that it is worth the time and effort to report some of my experiences in the recording and music fields. Please spread the word about remastering the mono of S of S. Maybe Sony will pick up on the interest and follow through.

      Like

  2. Can you explain the way of access for this remastered version you speak of, since there no details at that site. Also ther eis no reference to Sony. Is it a bootleg version?

    Like

      1. Click the red “Slow Download” button at the bottom, wait 30 seconds and click on the “Get your download” button, the .rar archive will download to your PC.

        Like

    1. It’s not a remaster, but an extremely good recording from a mint condition U.S. mono vinyl pressing, in both regular and hi-resolution. You did a great job mixing the record in mono, Don!! As for the original tapes, I’ve heard 2 things: the tapes were destroyed in a warehouse fire and/or Paul Simon is opposed to mono (otherwise Sony would’ve already capitalized on the recent mono reissue trend).

      Like

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Sometimes it is hard to write to and for folks who have not witnessed the showbusiness scene. Yes, this is a huge topic, but really actually based on the human trait of greed and theft. The attitude seems to be that if you can away with it then go ahead and do it and run with it. And that is exactly what has happened here. This was before us recording engineers were publicly being named on the recordings and credited with our names printed on the record or jacket. And so, he privately told them or implied that he did the final mixing and they believed him, and he rode to fame and fortune with their believing him. He stole the credit for work that I did, because it was the way things were at the time. We all work hard in our chosen fields to succeed. Supposing you were the high school valedictorian, and you deserved it because of your hard work to get there. But Mr. X, who was the school’s coach of the state’s winning football team, wanted his son to be the best and played his politics with the teaching staff to get his son there, and he did. And now, although you were the best, he stole it from you, and as a result, it won him the best scholarship to the most prestigious university, and you with nothing. How would you feel? I hope this is a clear analogy.

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    2. Thanks for your comment. Most of us work hard in our chosen fields. In our business of showbusiness, there are thousands trying to get that million seller record, or a starring role in a movie, or top editor at XXX publication etc. The old saying is that “many are called but few are chosen.” Another is that “no matter how great you are, or how much talent you have, you have to be in the right place at the right time.” Another is that “it is not how much you know, it is who you know.” All of these, unfortunately, are true. I have come a long way with my talents, but, perhaps just not quite far enough. But that doesn’t mean I will ever stop putting my best out there and will “maintain it up.”

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  16. Hello, Mr. Meehan

    I’m Simon&Garfunkel’s big fan in Japan.

    Me and many Japanese fan love your mono mix of “Sound Of Silence”.
    After we found your blog, we always talk about the truth of the single record.

    Now I understand that your mono mix was the hit record, and Roy Halee was only a recording engineer.

    Then I have two questions.

    1) Was there a plan to release a SOS single c/w “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me”?

    The monoral single “Sound Of Silence” released September 1965 was coupling with “We’ve Got A Groovy Thing”.

    I heard there was an aborted plan to release a single “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me c/w We’ve Got A Groovy Thing” in late 1964 or early 1965.

    So I think this master of “Somewhere” was recorded in late 1964. Is that right?

    Did you involve all these projects?

    2) Do you remember the “Sound Of Silence” overdubbing recording date?

    Was it in July 1965 or earlier?

    I’m sorry I have many questions about that great record.
    I’m happy if you could tell me more truth.

    The best of health to you. Thanks!

    Like

    1. Hello Hiroshi, and thank you so much for posting from so far away. I have seen that hundreds from Japan have tuned in here,and the best news is yet to come. So please tell everyone to stay tuned within the next week for some great news.
      I don’t recall the release plans, except that I was Tom Wilson’s favorite mixer.and I did a few Dylan’s that year also not credited. Didn’t know all the plans and decisions of the A and R dept.under Goddard and later, Clive. Re “Somewhere,” see my notes above here from July 26, 1965 of S of S and “Somewhere.” Tom Wilson most probably did the overdubs of both songs on the same day or a day or a few days before our mix date. S and G weren’t even aroyund when Tom did the overdubs of earlier recorded material of “Tom and Jerry” (S and G).

      Like

  17. Don,
    It is disheartening that you poured all the best of who you are into supporting the best of another to be amazing and then your contribution was ignored, denied and minimized. To have to fight for the honor you deserve seems immoral. This type of injustice can wound so deeply that it is hard to recover. I’m glad you’ve found the courage to shed light on your mix notes as well as to continue your recording wizardry.

    I’m sure the Wrecking Crew understands how it feels to be responsible for so many hits and just now beginning to get the credit they deserve. I hope that above all else you remember the personal satisfaction you had in the process of creating the magic of “Sound of Silence.” No one can take that creative satisfaction away from you. Hold on to that “knowing.”

    Thanks for taking the risk of letting us in on what happened way back when. May you continue to find joy in the process of creating, and thank you for all the great work you’ve done through the years. You set the bar!

    Like

  18. Thanks for the article! The people who do the great work and shafted by the others afraid to share the credit. Get the word out and I hope great things come for you in the near future!!

    Like

    1. Thanks Doak. The support from you and others like you mean so very much to
      me. Makes it worthwhile to fight for what’s yours.
      Sincerely,
      Don Meehan

      Like

      1. Doak,
        Your email got me thinking on a plan for an anniversary tribute cover to one of the best songs ever written, “Sound of Silence.” More later!

        Like

  19. Mr. Meehan,
    Glad you finally got the proper credit and acknowledgment for your work on Sounds Of Silence, too bad it was so long in coming. I am quite familiar with the other projects you mentioned, “Brandy” by Looking Glass, and of course, “Desire” and “Hard Rain”. You mentioned you worked on some Dylan tracks in ’65,would those be for “Bringing It All Back Home” or “Highway 61 Revisited” or perhaps both? Also, you mentioned working with Al Kooper, did you participate in the “Super Session” recordings? Thank you from a fellow engineer for your part in making some great records that I have drawn from in my own career. Wish you well…Peace.

    Like

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