When asked about his split with songwriter Paul Simon, -
singer Art Garfunkel says that's just ...Water Under The Bridge
January 20, 1999
Pam Harbaugh, Author
Can there be life after Simon and Garfunkel? Most assuredly, says Art Garfunkel, the angelic-voiced half of that '60s duo. And he expects to prove it tonight when he performs at the King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne.
"He's ruined my life," Garfunkel joked in a telephone interview. "The obvious answer is Paul Simon has been to the enormous enrichment of my life. His wonderful talent and our compatability during the years that it worked enhanced my time here on Earth a hundred fold."
Note the words, "during the years that it worked." The duo that created flower power mantras such as "Sounds of Silence," "I Am a Rock," "Scarborough Fair/Canticle," "59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," "Mrs. Robinson" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" are . . . no longer friends.
"It's a nonstory," Garfunkel said. "Did you ever get married? Did you ever get divorced? It's the same old stuff. The juice ran down. We got tired. Compatability proved difficult, in the long run. We needed a rest. The rest turned into a longer rest than we anticipated. It's organic for things to come together and move apart."
Garfunkel, who lives with his wife, Kim, and 8-year-old son James, in a terraced apartment about 300 feet from the site of the famed Simon and Garfunkel Central Park Concert, intended to pursue a career in mathematics.
He worked a year and a half toward his doctorate at Columbia University in New York City, but was seduced into the music business when "Sounds of Silence" rocketed to the top of the charts.
"My path in life has been charmed and lucky," Garfunkel said. "It is a funny path, considering I'm a philosophical, introspective type guy. Usually a thoughtful person is not a stage performer. I might easily have had another life as a researcher or professor on campus. That could have easily been me. So, it went a little bit against my nature, but I was pulled into it because I have a calling to sing."
Even though some stars bristle when asked to explain what propelled their stardom, Garfunkel philosophically understands it's natural for people to be curious.
He says it's "the door I came in on" and he could be "coy and false" if he agonized over talking about Simon and Garfunkel.
"Anybody who is curious about Simon and Garfunkel has played into something that I worked very hard to create in my life," Garfunkel said. "I guess the only thing I'm disturbed about is when the proportions don't get right."
Garfunkel easily slips into defending against the notion that he sang backup to Simon.
"If you go into the Simon and Garfunkel records, we basically had a two part blend that was very fifty-fifty, not unlike the Everly Brothers. Paul took melody, I took one-third above.
"But we had many songs where I stepped out on the lead," he added. "It's me in the lead on the `Sounds of Silence' and `Scarborough Fair.' It's my voice throughout `Bridge Over Troubled Water.' Paul joins in for four lines at the end (with) `sail on silver girl.' I'm the higher tenor voice, and Paul is on the lead on `Homeward Bound' and `America.' We split it up pretty evenly. When you hear `The Boxer,' it's a classic case of how we arranged our voices."
Ironically, Simon and Garfunkel's final album is the one that features the melancholic single, "Old Friends" -- the hugely successful, 1971 Grammy Award-winning "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
According to the Encyclopedia of Rock Stars (1996), the duo split in 1970 due, in part, to interruptions caused by Garfunkel's film career, which included some pretty dark movies: "Catch 22," "Carnal Knowledge," "Bad Timing" and "Boxing Helena."
The two have reteamed occasionally for the benefit of such favorite causes as victims of AIDS, children's health and political causes.
They also appeared on "Saturday Night Live," the 1981 Concert in Central Park with more than 400,000 fans in attendance and at their 1990 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Simon, a Hall of Fame songwriter, went on to critical acclaim with such albums as the 1976 Grammy Award-winning "Still Crazy After All These Years," (featuring "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover"), the Grammy Award-winning "Graceland (with Ladysmith Black Mambazo)," "The Rhythm of the Saints" and most recently, his notorious and short-lived Broadway musical"Capeman."
Garfunkel's solo musical career includes 10 albums, including "Across America" and his 1996 Grammy-nominated "Songs From a Parent To a Child."
As far as his film career, Garfunkel was heard in November as the voice of the wandering moose minstrel in the "Ballad of Buster Baxter" episode on the PBS animated series, "Arthur." And he has been "actively looking" for a film project by this year's end.
It's tough to be loyal to both audience and artistic needs, he said.
"That's the balance you try to strike," he said. "The audience wants it, but the artist is committed to a very healthy kind of selfishness . . . (which) is the beginning of a true self expression."
True to that, Garfunkel said he has a departure album he's starting this month. He would only describe it as being "heavy uptempo. I might be in your part of the world to do it."
(Do we hear a reggae beat?)
"If somebody thinks that all I ever did was be half of (Simon and Garfunkel), then I am forever half of something and that's no fun," Garfunkel said.
"I'm too good to be limited with that description. I went on and made wonderful albums after the group split up and I made movies and I'm interesting to myself and I (don't) want to be thought of as half of anything."