When Art Garfunkel released an anthology of his work with Simon & Garfunkel and as a solo artist in 2012, he chose a simple title for the collection: The Singer.
It’s a fitting description as his voice has taken him on an artistic journey across seven decades that includes such classic S&G hits as “Mrs. Robinson” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and induction of the duo into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. His singing led to an acting career that saw him share the screen with Orson Welles (Catch-22) and Jack Nicholson (Carnal Knowledge).
Garfunkel’s focus is on his concerts and he’ll perform Saturday, March 16, at Rowan University.
“I love to come to the stage,” he says. “I designed my show a few years ago. To execute it is a total delight.”
In a phone interview from his Manhattan home, Garfunkel discussed touring, appearing on American Bandstand in Philadelphia as a teenager, and how a New Yorker became a Phillies fan in the early 1950s.
It’s a 90-minute show with an intermission, about 18 songs. My pride and joy is I’ve gone literary [with his memoir What Is It All But Luminous: Notes from an Underground Man]. I write about my marriage, I write about rock-and-roll, I write about Paul Simon. I’m gonna serve up about seven or eight [readings] throughout the show.
It’s trying to be a whole man. I want my sex life to keep cooking. I want my intellectual life to be interesting. I want to get my exercise. I want to have a work pulse in the middle of my life. It’s very healthy, believe me, to face the fear of the next show and to get the adrenaline through the body. It works for longevity.
There’s no clear answer. I make an album based on various themes. I ask myself: What has been kicking around in your head?
I’m always singing. If you’re a crooner, you’ve got to do the standards and I did Some Enchanted Evening in 2009. I did an album [Everybody Wants to Be Noticed] with Maia Sharp and Buddy Mondlock, two gifted songwriters, and the blend was interesting. The great producer Billy Mann brought us together and I was suddenly part of a trio. Billy said, “You’re a songwriter who hasn’t written songs all these years and I want to pull them out of you.” I wrote “Perfect Moment,” a song I’m proud of and do in the show.
When you’re working with a microphone, this heavily magnified instrument, it will catch every little thing you do. If you forget one word, a preposition, it will show up. You have to be so exact because of technology. It translates to film acting the same way. The camera is watching every little doubt that crosses your forehead. You have to be super fine in your execution. Both mediums are centered on: Do you have a feeling of the truth for what you’re saying? Do you love this song? Do you like telling this story? You don’t choose scripts that are meaningless, nor do you with songs.
I remember going through the hallways and seeing giant mailbags filled with fan mail for the dancing kids. My pulse was pulsing. I was excited. It was good that I had my buddy Paul Simon. You go to the dressing room and you’re before the camera before you know it. For everybody else, it’s a routine event. For you, it’s surreal. The Dick Clark Company can’t find our performance. It’s a shame.
Being different is my delight. Nobody from New York roots for any team outside of New York. I thought: Why not the Phillies? I like those red pinstripes. Richie Ashburn? I like that name. Robin Roberts? What a pitcher. If you saw them at Ebbets Field, you might have said to your dad, “I’m a Phillies fan." I have suffered through the decades for the Phillies and I have never dropped the cause.