Art Garfunkel Happy To Have Healthy Vocals Once Again
by Ed Condran
"The Sound of Silence" was the breakthrough smash for Simon and Garfunkel. In 1965 it became the iconic pop-folk duo's initial chart-topper.
However, there was another kind of sound of silence for Art Garfunkel. This type wasn't music to the ears of the refined entertainer, who possesses a beautiful, unique tenor. During a 2010 show with Paul Simon, the longtime smoker noticed that he had trouble singing in the mid-range. His vocal condition worsened.
"I had a couple of extremely difficult years," Garfunkel said while calling from his Manhattan apartment. "Losing a voice for Artie Garfunkel is a tragic thing."
But Garfunkel, 74, has regained his unparalleled vocal ability. For proof, Garfunkel, who will perform Friday, May 13, at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, sang a few bars from "Bridge Over Troubled Water" during a recent chat. Garfunkel can still hit the high notes. "I can't tell you how thankful I am," Garfunkel said. "I'm still very capable."
Garfunkel will offer a potpourri of songs when he performs in New Haven. "There will be fast songs and slow songs," Garfunkel said. "There will be Simon and Garfunkel stuff and solo material. There will be covers. It will be all about feel. When I'm about to perform the fifth song, I'll decide what to do when the whole house is feeling the last bar of the fourth song. I'll be asking myself, 'Where do I go next? Do I talk to the audience? Do I try and change the mood?' I ask myself quite a few questions."
A question that is impossible not to ask Garfunkel is if there will be another Simon and Garfunkel reunion. I asked Garfunkel that question 14 years ago and when he danced around the answer, I wondered how he could pass on such an opportunity since the demand has always been so great.
"After we finish talking I'll call Paul and say, 'Hey, Paul, it's Artie,'" Garfunkel said in 2002. "'Yes, we haven't spoken in awhile but I was just speaking with Ed Condran and he wonders why we aren't getting back together for a reunion tour. He says we're leaving a lot of money on the table and we're not getting any younger.'"
Garfunkel was of course being facetious, but a few months later after a surprise performance at the Grammys, Simon and Garfunkel announced that they were reuniting for a tour. But will the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers come back for another jaunt to sing those timeless classics that sound like a soundtrack to New York circa 1968?
"Unfortunately our delightful blend of voices live inside human beings, who are much messier than two beautiful voices," Garfunkel explained. "The human beings have personalities, flaws, sticky points. It's not that easy for two human beings to mesh like two voices. It should be like this for us. If somebody called me and said, 'I booked a singer in the studio, you know him well, he's from your childhood, his name is Paul Simon. Can you be there Thursday night? You show up and sing a song that you love, an old Everly Brothers song.' I would say, 'Great.' If we could leave out the personalities, we would have a beautifully recorded session."
However, Simon and Garfunkel have spent more time apart than together since their 1970 breakup, which occurred at their commercial peak. It's hardly a secret that the duo, who met as children in 1953, are not on good terms.
"It's not easy," Garfunkel said. "We're different characters. I haven't spoken with him in quite awhile now, not a year but many months. I hope he's healthy. I don't know what he's doing. We have mutual friends but I don't know what's going on. I know he's a proud papa and his wife (Edie Brickell) has a Broadway show ('Bright Star')."
So it's doubtful that the pair will reunite once more. "What we do isn't about money," Garfunkel said. "It's never been about that. It's about doing what we want to do."
Next Up: A Memoir?
The same can be said for Garfunkel's career as an actor, after receiving great reviews for his work in such films as 1971's "Carnal Knowledge," 1980's "Bad Timing" and 2010's "The Rebound."
"If I'm going to do a film, it has to be right," Garfunkel said.
Garfunkel isn't concerned about a reunion tour or an acting gig.
"I'm thrilled to be able to sing again and to be able to go out on a tour like this," he said. "I've fashioned a show that is very less is more. It's a very unarranged tour. You come to the show and you'll forget about things for awhile. You and I are suffering with Donald Trump together. When I get onstage in New Haven, I'll be in the present tense. My level of vitality is very healthy. I'm very happy where I am now."
A look back is also in the works for Garfunkel, who is writing a memoir, which he believes will hit shelves during the fall of 2017. "It's about the wonder of it all," Garfunkel said. "It's about my love life, music and, well, everything. It's wild. I get to write this book and sing. What more could I want?"