I love Simon and Garfunkel. In fact, my whole family loves Simon and Garfunkel. How much do we love them? Let me explain.
Back in the day, my siblings, Harvey cousins and I would have Simon and Garfunkel dance-offs, judged by my grandma. These “contests” were held in my cousin’s basement and were taken very seriously. All five of us would take a turn in the spotlight, getting our jam on to hits such as Mrs. Robinson (I believe this was our favorite), The Sound of Silence and The Boxer. My grandma, a tiny, 4’10 Colombian lady who always wore pink lipstick and bright colors and didn’t speak a word of English (except to say Sorry no e-speaky-Inglis) and who probably had no idea who Simon and Garfunkel were, would sit on the sofa, smoking a cigarette, intently observing our moves. You see, my grandma always dreamed of being a dancer and I think she hoped one of her grandchildren would inherit what she saw as her inherent dance skills. It didn’t happen, but my grandma was a great judge.
But anyway, back to the subject: We’d have these dance contests every time we went to my cousin’s house and if I remember correctly, my sister and my cousin Adriana usually won because they took gymnastics and incorporated back flips and cartwheels into their routines. Maybe my brother won sometimes too because he was so adorable with his giant Afro and he really, really liked to dance. My cousin Cassandra, a bit shy back in the day, probably looked on in terror from a far-off corner wondering what had possessed our souls. As for me, I was pigeon-toed, less-than-graceful and couldn’t even do a somersault so I’m sure I never won, but I really did try my best. And I was usually the organizer of these dance-offs, so I was kind of the boss.
At home, when my brother and sister and I were home alone, Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hit CD was one of our favorite things to listen to. Really, there isn’t one bad song on that album. Every time I hear Cecilia, I just feel like dancing my heart out. YouTube it. It’s such a great song. Who wouldn’t feel immediately uplifted? My dad recorded one of their early ’90s short-lived New York City reunion concerts and for at least 10 summers in a row, we’d pop that videotape into the VCR and get our Simon and Garfunkel on. Even today, get the Perilla-Harvey clan together and it’s only a matter of time before the Sound of Silence is blasting from the speakers and we are reminiscing about the days of yesteryear, reaffirming that Simon and Garfunkel were the greatest band ever and wishing for just one more reunion tour. Unfortunately, Garfunkel is suffering from Vocal Cord Paresis and both he and Simon are over 70, so the likelihood of one more reunion tour is probably minuscule. Oh well. At least their relationship has thawed a little bit and we still have that videotape.
Aside from Simon and Garfunkel, we LOVED the Peter, Paul and Mary holiday album (Don’t Let the Lights go Out!) and Bob Marly (Buffalo Soldier!). Saturdays were our “Clean to Celine” days (It’s all Coming Back to me Now…is there a better song to clean to in the world?). And how can I forget Yanni, Live at the Acropolis? Seriously, YouTube Yanni when you’re feeling depressed and you’ll immediately feel better. Our other favorites included Nana Mouskouri, Mireille Mathieu (I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world AND her rendition of La Marseillaise gives me chills to this day, though honestly, it’s not quite as touching as the Marseillaise scene in Casa Blanca). What else was there? Harry Belafonte (Matilda — my Aunt Elsie’s favorite dance song), El Puma (Culpable Soy Yo was my favorite song as a kid), Fleetwood Mac and of course, the one and only Carlos Vives.
A Trip through Perilla Memory Lane:
Simon and Garfunkel — The Boxer. A dream deferred.
Celine Dion — It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.
Mireille Mathieu — La Marseillaise.
Casa Blanca. This scene always brings me nearly to tears.
Carlos Vives — La Piragua.
El Puma — Culpable Soy Yo. Please note the intense artistry of this music video masterpiece.
Harry Belafonte — Matilda.
Peter Paul and Mary — Don’t let the Lights go Out. How can anyone deny this is the greatest holiday song ever?
Yanni — Santorini. He was so handsome with his long chocolate locks. And this song is just bigger than life.