Art Garfunkel Explains Why He Approved Bernie Sanders’ Use of ‘America’

Art Garfunkel Explains Bernie Sanders' Use

Art Garfunkel issued a statement on Friday explaining why he gave his approval to the campaign of Bernie Sanders to use the Simon & Garfunkel song “America” in a new political ad.

In comments released through his publicist, Garfunkel said that he “never wanted to gain an influence on the public through my songs, and then use it for my politics. It’s bait and switch.”

But he also explained how the song is meant to have universal resonance, while it’s also relevant to current issues, including what is being talked about on the campaign trail. He cited xenophobia, and said, “Now I believe the monied interests have gone too far and have rigged the system.” Sanders’ campaign is focused on Wall Street and campaign finance corruption, and he has condemned remarks that Donald Trump has made about Mexicans and Muslims.

The ad was scheduled to start airing in Iowa and New Hampshire on Friday.

“I wanted my arrangement to be urgent, reaching, yearning, shining, and full of glory, full of my love for this country,” he said of the song, first recorded in 1968.

A spokesman for Paul Simon did not respond to a request for comment.

Garfunkel’s complete statement is below:

1. I never wanted to gain an influence on the public through my songs, and then use it for my politics. It’s bait and switch.

2. Xenophobia (fear of different people) is the issue of the 21st Century (said Bill Clinton to me backstage). We reach beyond nationalism — don’t I sing for ALL hearts and minds.

3. But after 9/11 I realized that I truly love my America and quest for an identity with my fellow Americans.

4. Almost 50 years ago I professed my love in a melodic suspension that soars at the end of our song, “America.”

5. I wanted my arrangement to be urgent, reaching, yearning, shining, and full of glory, full of my love for this country.

6. Who are we? 13 states in rebellion, making what kind of composite? Southern planters defending states’ rights or a beautiful unity founded on Hamilton’s respect for northern bankers.

7. 33 yrs later, just after 9/11, I wrote a piece (in my website, to be out in my autobiography next year) that again holds up a mirror.

8. Now I believe the monied interests have gone too far and have rigged the system.

[a poem from 2001]:

9. “Perhaps if I steal from Thomas Wolfe and give him his proper due — not the ‘man in full’ but the ‘homeward angel’ — he might reappear for you. Then see him up there where the Rockies rise, his legs dangling over the ledge above Denver, eight thousand feet in the air. Before him, the plains, behind, the Pacific, stars coming out on a summer’s night, and everywhere the twilight falls on America.

To the right is Amarillo, beyond it the Astros at play, over my shoulder, Seattle, over the other beyond the Great Canyon, gas fumes and fast food mix with the smell of L.A. Hear the blues parade across the stage. Up from New Orleans into Chicago, see all the clusters of lights beyond. Follow the fashion of Rock ‘n’ Roll — St Louie to Cleveland to Philly to bond the nation’s soul with music in its cars.

And in our hearts, love of the physical entity. America. Identity in doubt. We can’t go home again, so we’re runaway vagabonds, lost in twilight, wondering what we’re about.”
–Art Garfunkel 9/11/2001

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  1. Idan Wllenchik says:

    Art Garfunkel didn’t write the song,Paul Simon did.How come Garfunkel approved the use of a song that he didn’t write?

    • Ssd says:

      What does it matter first of all. However, Simon did give his approval, he simply chose not to comment. Are you resentful that Bernie’s was approved, and Trump has been denied by many artists the use of their songs?

  2. Anna Schmidt says:

    Then you should vote for Hillary Clinton because she can get it done!

  3. Mick Wagner says:

    Well, there’s actually two copyright issues here. The copyright for the song itself, is – of course – Paul Simon’s. The copyright for the actual recording that’s being used however, is jointly owned by Paul and Artie, and since they were originally set up as a partnership, either partner can bind or release the partnership, without the other’s consent or even knowledge. The songwriting copyright follows the performance copyright. In other words, Paul Simon’s consent is not needed to use the recording, although if Bernie wanted to re-record the song himself – for some unfathomable reason – it would be.

    • Selene says:

      Art Garfunkel gave an interview where he clarified that Paul Simon did give his permission. Art stated he was a Bernie Sanders supporter and that he and Paul Simon were both liberals and it was not a difficult decision to give their permission for the Sanders campaign to use the song. Very surprised that the article did not state Art Garfunkel’s strong support for Bernie Sanders.

  4. I saw Garfunkel this morning on CNN on this, he made it sound like “his song”, when Paul Simon actually wrote it. Frankly I don’t understand the animosity between these great geniuses. So Garfunkel must have bought the copyright on it?

    • Phil LaPorta says:

      No – it’s Artie being Artie. Simon owns the copyright to all his songs. There ‘may’ be a technicality due to the fact that it was recorded as a duo. Or, it may have been a courtesy call: IE ‘A request has been made . . . do you have any objections’. I have a complete book of lyrics: “America” c 1968, Paul Simon Music. (He was one of the smart ones, who didn’t sign rights away).

      • Selene says:

        I saw the Art Garfunkel interview and there was not a hint of animosity in the conversation. He also explicitly stated that Paul Simon also gave his permission for the song use.

  5. Jonathan says:

    The question is in two parts: Did the Sanders campaign pay for the use of the song? If not, are Simon and Garfunkel millionaires? I’d hate to think that in making this beautiful ad Sanders accepted an expensive gift from millionaires.

    • Luke Wi says:

      Guess again. Read the interview he gave in England to The Telegraph on May 24, 2015. It’s available online. “Bitter” is an understatement.

    • Phil LaPorta says:

      Simon founded in 1987 and funds the, relatively well known, Children’s Health Fund – mobile heath units deployed in areas of need and emergency response. It is one of only two charities, I regularly contribute to. It’s not what you have; it’s what you do with what you have.

  6. Tucson says:

    It’s time to wrest our beloved country back from the Plutocrats who co-opted it when we weren’t paying attention. Each of the viable candidates, with the exception of Independent Bernie Sanders, is either a Plutocrat or a Plutocrat-Wannabee, who will only look out for the rich in order to protect their own wealth. All their policies will enrich themselves more and broaden the income gap. Any policies they’re currently spewing that are targeted to help the workers of America were stolen from Bernie (check the record). POLITICAL REVOLUTION NOW! Back to government OF the people, BY the people, and FOR the people. Enough is enough! BERNIE SANDERS 2016

  7. karen roland says:

    Where is the diversity? Not a black man in sight. White privilege commercial.

    • Bernie Sanders marched with Martin Luther King in the 1960s. He was very much involved in the civil rights movement. The ad shows those, who attended his rallies. If you look, there are Afro-American supporters. If you want to see more Afro-Americans in his ads, you should partake in his rallies (in lieu of complaining). I saw a number of Afro-Americans in this ad. There should be many more. Unfortunately not enough Afro-Americans become involved in the voting process, which is a continual complaint by the Obama administration. How do you think Anglo-Saxon white politicians and police officers end up controlling black communities. Get involved! Vote!

    • Bryk says:

      Bernie hugs at least two of them, but agreed not — not in the rural footage at the beginning. I’m pretty sure this ad is targeted at Iowa. There are plenty of people of colour in the public events. I guess people see what they want to see.

    • Sanders will be a one way ticket into plutocrian Hell. He’s not a savior, he’s a dupe for the One Worlders.

    • Samantha says:

      The ad was made for Iowa & New Hampshire and is from real events there. South Carolina & Nevada will have different ads.

    • Erik Nielsen says:

      Bernie was part of the first student sit-in of the Civil Rights era. He marched with Martin Luther King on Washington. You could say he has a quite good track record of actually standing up for what’s right even when it’s hard, which given how he was standing up for civil rights back when you had stuff like the KKK lynching activists, says a lot.

      I agree that at first there didn’t seem to be too many minorities, but later in the commercial I saw quite a few members of minorities. Given that this is crowd footage it may just be a selection effect, since Iowa is pretty white.

    • Angela Curry says:

      There are several minorities in the ad…nice attack, but try again.

      • Phil LaPorta says:

        I believe I read that the ending montage was taking from the thousands of ‘small money’ donors who have given to the campaign. Not sure if just Iowans or New Hampshirites..

    • Too Many Ducks says:

      If you don’t see a black man in that ad Karen then you are wearing some sort of blinders.

      Watch it again.

    • waitstill hubbell says:

      do you realize how racist that comment is….making racism where there is none …is evil

    • It features the people in the states where it airs. The farmers are from Iowa etc. We all know where Bernie stands, and that he actually gives a crap about ordinary people of ALL color and faith.

    • lara says:

      On the contrary, Sanders always has made a point of being a real voice for the fairness towards blacks, and does a lot of effort to include them.

  8. Clare says:

    I thought Kum Ba Yah would have been far more appropriate.

  9. BaritoneWoman says:

    “. . .we’ve all. . . come. . .to save our America. . .”
    Thanks, Art. Tell Paul we thank him, too.

  10. I love the Ad. Sanders is the only decent, honest, hard working, consistent candidate runnig for President. The Ad is a beautiful reflection of America. Thanks Art. Don’t listen to the brain dead idiots that call everyone that tries to help them a Commie. Hopefully we can ship them all out of America once Sanders becomes President in 2016! Lol.

  11. Joe says:

    Let me guess Art, you approved Bernie because you really do love A Bridge Over Troubled Waters !

  12. Gerald Slater says:

    I love Garfunkel’s singing and of course those Paul Simon songs. And he probably had to give permission for the performance rights.

    But keep in mind that these comments are from a guy who, when he toured with Simon, wanted a million dollars a night for both of them – every night!

    Think of all the concert-goers this excluded – ticket prices were outrageous! Your average fan was locked out, unless he spent the rent money to go see S & G.

    • Samantha says:

      I saw them for free at an outdoor venue (Central Park?). Sorry you missed it.

    • NO, because he wants to visit people like you At The Zoo. IF you have nothing of value to add, and You’re Still Crazy After All Thsee Years, the Sounds of Silence might be your best option.

      • Gerald Slater says:

        So then you approve of high ticket prices that keep low-income fans away?

        And it was very clever, how you worked in all those song titles.

  13. Phil LaPorta says:

    Paul Simon owns the copyright on all his songs. He also campaigned for Chris Dodd in ’08 for that short lived candidacy, So, not a stretch for him to allow ‘America’. NO S&G song was copyrighted under both names. No idea what Artie is talking about – tho he does have a bit of a history of attention grabbing.

  14. dancingqueen says:

    so beautiful.

  15. Pride-clingin-gun-clingin-right-wingin-proud clingers!!!

  16. WSpackman says:

    Meanwhile Trump’s got a new campaign song too – little girls singing “On your feet, stand up tall! C’mon boys, take em down”

  17. rytwinger says:

    I doubt Art or any other elitist singers would actually like socialism applied to them. Such raving hypocrites and simply stupid.

    • David SMith says:

      I think you may be wrong. I think many such as Garfunkle do actually practice what they preach. Unfortunately that is not usually in practice.

    • Robert A. Brown says:

      By your post you show you know NOTHING about Democratic Socialism. Look it up and join the revolution towards equality for ALL!

  18. grumpy says:

    hello –
    all art is political, including art allegedly void of politics – which is political in that it chooses to be agnostic, attempting to stay out of the fight actually lends support to the status quo,

    Bernie says ‘break up the banks’ which is a far cry from socialism but certainly better than any other candidate’s prescription (Hillary herself is and has always been a protector of private wealth and wall street & her husband ended Glass-Steagall with the help of his Citibank trained Sec of the Treasury, Robert Rubin – which in turn led to the new depression that we are all living through right now).

    The real answer has been discovered by North Dakota, a state run bank for infrastructure – established by a legislative act in 1919 and found in the writings of 5 time presidential candidate Eugene Debs: nationalize the big banks (not break up but leave in the greedy oligarchic hands of a few greedy rich private people) and end the Fed’s tax dollar handouts (‘quantitative easing’ as performed by republicans and democrats alike) to criminal anti-patriotic private billionaire financial oligarchs.

    we will all be better off

    right on Art –
    – grumpy singlaub

  19. Rockadoo!dle says:

    Ca$h is Ca$h.

  20. todd moody says:

    Not to mention the royalties could generate a little bit of retirement cash…

  21. Jack Duane says:

    Right on, brother Art. Lay ye down, like a bridge over troubled waters.

  22. Ira Garfinkel says:

    Fart Garfunkel is a One World Globalist! So is Socialist Fried Chicken Comrade Bernie Sanders! Did Art ever check out how good is was back in the USSR? Nothing is wrong with Nationalism! Love of the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. Those are THE FOUNDING DOCUMENTS OF THE USA! But Bernie ignores them, along with the Clinton’s and Obama’s! Obama supporters hold on to Barry like Deity! Yet they complain about people with religious values like Christians. Art will know XENOPHOBIA well! Once the Xenophobic Radical Muslims kill off all the lame Hippies who can’t fend for themselves! Chattanooga, Fort Hood, San Bernardino and Boston. All Radical Muslim Attacks! The problem isn’t Xenophobia, IT’S UNLIMITED AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION! But Art the Fart is too naive to know what’s really going on! I guess Garfunky has a statue of Stalin in his house too! Government is his GOD! People have faults, greed, lust etc. etc. Only God is without Fault! So I think Artie should take a closer look at his own judgments. Sanders writes books glorifying the RAPE of Women! That isn’t a man who’s fit for any office!

  23. Darnelle says:

    Thank you Art. I was a friend of Laurie Hare

  24. vomit"O" says:

    Yet Bernie SUPPORTS the TOO BIG TO FAIL banks. Hypocrite/

    • You might want to include less hatred and more actual facts into your comment. Even the remark about Sanders writing books glorifying rape is incorrect. He wrote an essay that basically questioned why both men and women fantasize about rape when masturbating but live moral lives in the real world.

      Name calling and incorrect statements litter your comment. Do some research of the facts. From reliable sources. You will see how wrong they are. I see you are angry…but I think when you learn the facts and the error in your statements, that anger will quell…and maybe you will come to be angry at those who are giving out these lies, to manipulate others to feel such fear driven anger to the point of being so disrespectful to their fellow human beings.

    • vivalaleta says:

      How so?

    • Buddy says:

      Bernie want’s to break-uo the “Too big to fail” banks. Get your facts straight.

  25. sjangers says:

    Garfunkel says he never wanted his music to achieve a prominent place in the public consciousness so he could then use it for his own personal politics. But that ‘s what he did. So what does it matter what he never wanted?

    You sold out, Art. I’m sure you think you did so for a good reason. But just own it rather than trying to make excuses for yourself.

  26. Thank you, Mr. Garfunkel, for allowing Bernie to make this most beautiful ad. :)

  27. Chuck Tator says:

    From a liberal pot head who probably cant remember where he put his shoes….LOL!

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