The news that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are touring again is bittersweet for many people. Reportedly, the purpose of the reunion is to make up for the pair’s neglect of Asia and Oceania during their last tour in 2001, so there will be no stops in North America or Europe. And since it has been informally announced that this will be the last-ever chance to see them together, a few fans are sure to be booking flights from the Western Hemisphere to New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
With both men now pushing 70, they have more of a right to say “This is it” than Michael Jackson does, but Simon & Garfunkel have made a career out of breaking up and getting back together. Even before they became overnight sensations in 1966, they’d parted ways at least twice. Having failed as a pop-harmony act in the Everly Brothers mold, they eventually reunited to gave the folk-revival boom a shot. But after one album they called it quits again.
It was only when a producer at Columbia Records added drums and electric guitar to “The Sound of Silence” that they conquered the pop charts, which was just as well. Simon was never anyone’s idea of a folkie — his disdain for Dylan at the time was notorious — and even if Artie always seemed to be along for the ride, it’s difficult to imagine those classic sides being as popular as they were without him.
Simon’s wide-ranging musical tastes, combined with his almost anal songwriting methodology (the trick is to use every note in the scale, he once told talk-show host Dick Cavett), is what made his pop-craft as indelible as Lennon-McCartney’s — but he needed Garfunkel’s sweeter tones to bring it to Top 40 life.
Simon is a nice guy — he’s even pals with Dylan now — and though he certainly knows his post-Garfunkel material is vastly superior, he also understands the irresistible pull of nostalgia and has agreed to sing “Scarborough Fair” in baseball stadiums again. One more time for an old friend — and the Eastern Hemisphere — isn’t too much to ask.
Simon & Garfunkel play July 8 at Nagoya Dome (7 p.m.;  241-8118); July 10 and 11 at Tokyo Dome (July 10, 7 p.m.; July 11, 5 p.m.;  3402-5999); July 13 at Kyocera Osaka Dome (7 p.m.;  6341-4506); and July 18 at Sapporo Dome (5 p.m.;  3402-5999). Tickets for each show are ¥9,000-¥13,000.