Art Garfunkel as the Cheshire Cat and Paul Simon as the White Rabbit. It sounds like a strange dream. Or a Saturday Night Live skit. But acting together in the play Alice in Wonderland in elementary school was the first time the two musicians collaborated on a project. The duet went on to become part of American musical history racking up mega hits that are still popular today. Art will be 69 years old on November 5th. His unmistakeable voice is always part of my life's soundtrack.
I was surprised to discover a shared common experience when I was reading through some research for this article. I am a voracious reader and have a compiled list of all the books I've read over the last 14 years. But Art Garfunkel puts my list to shame. His list covers 40 years of reading. Amazing.
For Emily Whenever I May Find Her- I especially love the part where his voice soars.
The pair split up in 1970 because of artistic and personal differences, reunited for a handful of appearances in the 1980s and 1990s and in 2003 embarked on the "Old Friends" tour. I was fortunate enough to see the duo in 1993 and in 2003. Both wonderful experiences that I will never forget.
An interesting interview with Art prior to The Sounds of Silence.
I Only Have Eyes For You
Bright Eyes- Art's voice is the epitome of pure.
April Come She Will- A beautiful song marking the passage of time written by Paul Simon and delivered in Art's ethereal voice.
An odd pairing- but having Jimmy Webb as part of it was too good to pass up.
I'll Do My Cryin' in the Rain- a duet with James Taylor
So in Love
Art embarked on a very different type of journey that began in the 1980's. Below is an excerpt from an article written by Tom Dunkel in the October 15, 1990 issue of "Sports Illustrated." about the trip. The article is entitled "He's Gone to Look for America -Art Garfunkel is five years into a solo cross-country walk."
Mr. Dunkel caught up with Art 2,200 miles into his 4,000+ mile walk in Nebraska during the Spring of 1990. The Walk is conducted in pick-up-where-you-left-off spurts of approximately one week and 100 miles. Every four months or so, Art flies from his Manhattan apartment and continues his walk through the back roads of America. The original plan was to walk a relatively straight line between New York and Oregon, "but evolved into a free-form squiggle." His footsteps "are plotted on a Rand McNally map that fills a wall of his third floor study." Within 24 hours of his decision in 1984 to walk from the East Coast to the West Coast, Art packed a small backpack and began his trek through Central Park, across the George Washington Bridge and into New Jersey.
Although 90% of his walk is logged alone, he has hiked with his brother Jerome, wife Kim and Jimmy Webb. No, Paul Simon has not joined him on his journey to "record the topography of the United States."
According to Dunkel, "early on, Garfunkel would either hitch hike or double back on foot to the nearest motel every night. However, somewhere in West Virginia it occurred to him that all those wasted hours might add up to an extra decade on the road. Now, he says, he travels 'rich man style', with an assistant to drive him to that day's starting point, scout lunch and room accommodations, run errands and retrieve him at the end of the day." Dunkel observes that Art is "weighed down by only a road map, a pair of reading glasses, a watch..., a Walkman and eclectic selection of tapes, including Peter Gabriel, Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand and poems of John Donne, read by Richard Burton."
Art has put his master's degree in mathematics to good use on The Walk. "He knows that his combined left-right strides measure five feet. That's exactly 2,112 steps per mile", or "2.6 miles per hour."
"There are a couple of walk rules which Art adheres to religiously. Walk Rule No. 1; no peeking. No exceptions." Whenever Alan Lipson, his assistant, "must drive him over a section of as yet unwalked road to get to their motel, Garfunkel rides with his eyes shut. Likewise, he will not fly in or out of an airport situated in untrod territory. Walk Rule No. 2; Keep moving. Constant starting and stopping is a waste of energy. The Walk was never envisioned as an opportunity to mingle with the masses. It isn't about socializing. It's about being the perfect stranger."
Dunkel adds, "the rules are a reflection of Garfunkel's perfectionism. He is rock 'n' rolls Felix Unger. This is a man who keeps the 1,664 page Random House Dictionary of the English Language on his kitchen table to read (albeit from Z to A). He has a Rolodex filled with words and their definitions, hand printed and catalogued by number." Dunkel quotes Garfunkel regarding his journey through the dictionary as "a very similar thing to The Walk." Dunkel concludes, "both are comprehensive in scope, dead serious in intent."
Homeward Bound- Harmony at it's best as their voices seemlessly blend together, lift each other up, and wrap around the lyrics.
Art had a few run-ins with the law on marijuana charges in recent years. He paid a small fine for the first offense and opted to speak to teens in upstate New York on a healthy lifestyle following his second charge of possession. He has been off the rader with this issue since 2005.
The current tour of Simon & Garfunkel was cancelled because Art is recovering from a vocal paresis, an ailment that causes a weakening of one or both of the vocal cords. Symptoms include hoarseness and reduction in the volume of one's voice. His doctors say he is expected to make a full recovery but the time frame is uncertain. Meanwhile, ticket-holding fans are holding their collective breaths hoping the tour will become a reality sometime in the future.
This video is dedicated to the fans that are patiently waiting for Art to recover and once again fill the air with his melodious voice. I hope it won't be much longer...
Since I Don't Have You