There are literally a thousand reasons bands break-up. Girlfriends, drugs, a shifting set of priorities, attempted murder, David Lee Roth’s ego, money, and, yes, icebergs can all hasten a band’s demise, but even most of the aforementioned reasons can be huddled and classed together under the heading balance of power. The Beatles, probably the most honest and true partnership between two talented musicians ever, broke down because ultimately, one person does have more say. Lieutenant Dan will always despise Forrest Gump, even though he saved his life. Brian Jones will always despise Mic Jagger for distancing The Stones from The Blues, even though Jagger was the reason they got famous. And jelly will always despise peanut butter for its versatility, even though it‘s practically inedible without at least some other food‘s help.
These hatreds are human nature. Realizing you need someone who doesn’t need you back is a feeling more shameful than walking in on your parents doing all the mortal sins at the same time in your bedroom. But maybe, if for only a second, Art Garfunkel realized Paul Simon needed him as well and Mark Hoppus realized Tom Delonge needed him as well, Axl Rose wouldn’t waste decades without Slash and Sting wouldn’t waste decades without Andy Summers. Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. Thank God some lucky New Yorkers got a long-awaited taste of Simon and Garfunkel.
Paul Simon needed to try things on his own. He needed to make Graceland and sing “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard” (if only so it could be used in The Royal Tenenbaums). Sometimes the nest really needs to be empty, but the one thing Simon never found without Art Garfunkel is that wild-haired, harmonizing heathen himself. He could have started a super group with Clapton on guitar, McCartney on bass, and King David on the harp, and people would have still been screaming for “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. I’m not saying I wouldn’t buy the aforementioned band’s CD (Jesus Cunt Punch by Four For Fisting), but there’s just something so timeless and beautiful about Simon and Garfunkel book ending each other with one guitar and two microphones. Losing the second microphone just never felt right.
Really, it’s been an entire week of reunions, or at least disassociated musicians spending time in the same rooms. Blink-182, the shittiest awesome punk band of all-time presented together at the Grammys. I guess it was growing up…. And while you may take pause at me callously lumping a band I just referred to as shitty like twenty-five words ago into the same tropospheres, I do so because they also imploded amidst the same balance of power issues and ventured out alone only to find the same quagmires and pratfalls.
Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus shared a hierarchy closer to the Beatles than Simon & Garfunkel, but many of the same frustrations were felt. So, the group split up and pursued two separate side projects: Angels & Airwaves and +44. Most of the world looked away, even many who stayed not-so-secretly yearned for Blink-182 because neither of those bands released Enema Of The State. Neither of those bands wield the same memory association; so, in essence, it wouldn’t have mattered if Angels & Airwaves actually had a mega-hit. John Lennon wrote “Imagine” after he left the Fab Four, but no one would choose to see a fictitious solo show over a fictitious Beatles reunion. They’d just hope Lennon played “Imagine” as a solo while Ringo used the bathroom.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what the balance of power is. Sure, when it’s a little askew some egos will be bruised and nasty words exchanged, but the great bands, the truly fantastic ones are the groups which needed each other. The Beatles. Led Zeppelin. The Who. Rage Against The Machine. Guns N Roses. Simon and Garfunkel. Blink-182. They all found some modicum of success on their own, and we still wanted to hear “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. And we always will.
So, go out and do what you gotta do. Explore your sitar fetish for a few albums, George Harrison. Host game shows on NBC, Joey Fatone. Just don’t forget who got you there. Even if you never got back together to make new music, take a few nights off every once in a while to harmonize on “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. It’s the one thing you can’t do alone.