Art Garfunkel began his career inauspiciously as one half of The Everly Brothers-inspired duo Tom And Jerry with Forest Hills, Queens, schoolmate Paul Simon (their 1957 single “Hey, Schoolgirl” even landed them an appearance on "American Bandstand". By the 1960s he had released a string of classic Simon & Garfunkel albums, culminating in 1970's Grammy-winning Bridge Over Troubled Water. His resume includes forays into acting — he has appeared in the Mike Nichols-directed films Catch-22 (1969) and Carnal Knowledge (1971), Nicolas Roeg’s Bad Timing (1980) and Jennifer Lynch’s Boxing Helena (1993) — and a solo career that began in 1973 with his debut Angel Clare, featuring the hit “All I Know” penned by Jimmy Webb.
In 1989 Garfunkel published a book of prose, Still Water (Dutton), was inducted with Paul Simon into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990 and made his songwriting debut on 2002’s critically acclaimed album Everything Waits To Be Noticed, a collaboration with singer-songwriters Maia Sharp and Buddy Mondlock.
On his 2007 solo album, the Richard Perry-produced Some Enchanted Evening, Garfunkel turns his attention to the standards he discovered as a kid and proves to be a skilled interpreter of the oeuvre. Garfunkel spoke to Goldmine from his New York home, where he discussed everything from his love of the standards to some lessons learned from his passion for long-distance walking.
Goldmine: Richard Perry’s production on Some Enchanted Evening is strikingly beautiful.
Art Garfunkel: I look at it as production that is simply apt, fitting and not artsy. It’s allowing Artie — myself — to be heard in close-up and in larger Panavision. With (Perry) I finally got what I don’t have enough bravery to do, put the vocal out front.
GM: What was it like working with Richard Perry? Given that he’s recorded you in the past (1975’s platinum Breakaway), I’m assuming you had a good working relationship.
AG: It was. I grew up in Queens, New York. Richard grew up in Brooklyn. We’re brothers in that sort of suburban New York City way. We grew up with stickball in the streets, doo-wop rock ’n’ roll. Both of us have the same fondness for “Earth Angel” or The Penguins and for great rock ’n’ roll. We know how great The Beatles were. He knows that my Simon & Garfunkel records were well-crafted. He is a kind of a brother of rock ’n’ roll to me. He’s one of us. He’s cut from the cloth of the fun of making a great record a la “Good Vibrations.” So working with him is like working with somebody who’s really rooting for you. A great partner. You’re not alone as you chase after your own standards. I sing in front of the mic and the notion that this can be as good and as special as the dickens, there is no limit to one’s chasing after a high standard, you know. It’s an open-ended experience, making it terribly scary and vulnerable.
GM: What was the motivating factor for you in recording this album? The current popularity of covering standards or your own love of the music?
AG: The popularity of standards now set the scene a little bit. I was starting to feel “Gee, I could do that.” Doing these songs of the great Harold Arlen has been something I’ve always known I could do and wanted to do for years. It felt right. I called Richard