“My Favorite Album” is a new weekly column, which will see us ask a musician exactly what the title suggests — to name their favorite album of all time. This week, it's L.A. singer-songwriter Lily Kershaw.
I have been a fan of Simon and Garfunkel since I was about 10 years old. The first time I heard “The Sound of Silence,” I swear the whole world stopped. It was quite a diversion from the Britney Spears and showtunes I had been spinning for the early part of my childhood. I became ravenous for their melodies and harmonies but most of all for their poetry. This is why my favorite album is Simon and Garfunkel: The Concert in Central Park.
While it is tremendously hard for me to choose my favorite Simon and Garfunkel album, let alone my favorite album, period, The Concert in Central Park is special to me for a multitude of reasons. I was given an original vinyl of this historic concert for Christmas when I was 14 years old. By that time, I had already listened to all of their records and deeply loved all of their songs and stories. The Christmas I was given this record, my family was living on the Upper West Side in New York for my father’s work — 71st and Broadway to be exact — just a few blocks away from Central Park, where the concert had taken place on Sept. 19, 1981. We only lived in that apartment until the spring of my 14th year, as we returned to Los Angeles then, but anytime I listened to that record in that apartment, I liked to think the concert was still going on, just some few blocks off, and that it was bleeding into my bedroom. Time meeting and standing still.
This concert in Central Park came to be as an act of charity in hopes of helping conservation efforts for the park. The park needed about $3 million to be revived and to continue running. The hope was that the city would be able to raise money through the profits generated through merchandise and video recordings from a free outdoor concert. People arrived at the break of dawn to secure a spot in the park. Around 300,000 people were expected to show for this free concert and Simon and Garfunkel reunion, and although it rained throughout the day, around 500,000 people ended up being in attendance.
The set list included songs from Simon and Garfunkel as well as songs from both Simon's and Garfunkel’s respective solo careers. And while two of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs, “The Dangling Conversation” and “The Only Living Boy in New York,” were not included, they did play other favorites including “Homeward Bound,” “America,” “The Boxer,” “Old Friends” and “The Sound of Silence.”
When they played “The Sound of Silence” and sang the line, “And in the naked light I saw 10,000 people maybe more…,” some 500,000 people began to cheer. Hearing that moment on this record always gives me chills and makes me feel like I was there, some 10 years prior to my birth, long before I was even a thought.
I have listened to this record in every place I have lived since I was 14 years old, and no matter where I put that record on, it feels like home. For me, that is what a great record is supposed to do, make you feel at home; in your skin, or the person you are with, or the space you are in. While Simon and Garfunkel: The Concert in Central Park is certainly the album I have listened to most, its ability to make me feel at home wherever I am is the reason it is my favorite album of all time.
Lily Kershaw plays with Smith and Thell at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at the Hotel Cafe.