Art Garfunkel to reveal all he knows in State Theatre concert
Art Garfunkel walked away from Simon & Garfunkel, one of the most successful duos in pop-music history.
And he kept walking.
Garfunkel has walked across the United States and Europe.
“New York City is claustrophobic. It’s gotten taller and taller and all of a sudden there was no sky. So, one day I said to my friend, ‘Let’s walk across America.’ I got my sneakers on and started walking,” Garfunkel says.
Garfunkel presents a solo concert, 8 p.m. July 24, State Center for the Arts, Easton.
Garfunkel embarked on his solo career after Simon & Garfunkel, which had received five Grammy awards, including two Grammys in 1968 for Record of the Year and Best Contemporary Pop Performance-Duo or Group for “Mrs. Robinson” and three Grammys in 1970 for Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists for “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
“Simon & Garfunkel went from 1964 to 1970 and then I got married in 1972,” says Garfunkel in a phone interview.
Of Simon, he says, “We drifted apart because it just felt natural. It was organic and we were tired of one another.”
In 1972, Simon & Garfunkel released a “Greatest Hits” album, which sold more than 14 million copies, biggest-selling album ever for a duo.
Simon & Garfunkel reunited in 1981 for the “Concert in Central Park,” followed by a world tour. Simon & Garfunkel were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. The duo got back together again for a tour in 2003 and 2004.
“I wish we weren’t so distant, but we do what comes naturally,” says Garfunkel of Simon. “We were never tactical or strategic. We never looked for the next business move or to make money and we always just did what felt natural and we were great.
“When we reunited for our reunion tour, we ran into each other and Simon asked me to listen to his new song. I started singing harmony and he said, ‘That sounds good, I could use you on harmony.’
“So, by accident and circumstance that’s how we started playing again, which is how most things happen in life.”
Not unlike Garfunkel’s acting career, which began after Simon & Garfunkel songs provided the soundtrack for the movie, “The Graduate” (1967), directed by Mike Nichols. Garfunkel appeared in Nichols’ next two movies, “Catch-22” (1970) and “Carnal Knowledge” (1971). Garfunkel was also in director Nicholas Roeg’s “Bad Timing” (1980) and director Jennifer Lynch’s “Boxing Helena” (1993).
Garfunkel’s collection of poetry, “Still Water,” was published in 1989.
His autobiography, “What Is It All But Luminous: Notes From An Underground Man,” was published in 2017.
For his 2019 concert tour, which began in January in Knoxville, Tenn., concludes in September in Nashville, Tenn., before heading to Germany in October and November, Garfunkel, accompanied by a guitarist and keyboardist, performs Simon & Garfunkel songs, solo hits, covers, and reads from “Luminous.”
His most recent album is “Some Enchanted Evening” (2017), a collection of standards from the Great American Songbook by the likes of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Irving Berlin and George Gershwin.
Garfunkel’s albums include “Angel Claire” (1973), his first solo album, which included his hit version of the Jimmy Webb song, “All I Know”; “Breakaway” (1975); “Watermark (1977); “Fate For Breakfast” (1979); “Scissors Cut” (1981); “The Animals’ Christmas” (1985), with Amy Grant; “Lefty” (1988); “Songs from a Parent to a Child” (1997), and “Everything Waits to Be Noticed” (2002), with Maia Sharp and Buddy Mondlock.
“I played for a bunch of years with a four-piece band and by the 1980s a tragedy had struck. My girl passed away, and I got very quiet in life. I read and listened to music, followed great artists and got very artsy.”
Garfunkel’s girlfriend, actress and photographer Laurie Bird, committed suicide in 1979.
Soon, his long walks began. From 1983 to 1997, Garfunkel walked across the United States.
“I had the right sneakers, a book, a hat so I wouldn’t get cancer on my nose and in eight days I crossed through New Jersey and hit Easton, Pennsylvania. A year later, I did 40 of those installments over a decade and crossed America.
“The northern part of Missouri was my favorite, it’s remarkably pretty. It was very freeing and lovely. The real world at last.
“There is too much technological nonsense. I was distracted and finally it was all unplugged and I got to be, really be, and once it was me, I was full. I found appreciation. There were a lot of tears, I found lots of love, and it was all me, all mine. I found my authentic self.
“I would walk around and just take things in. I didn’t really want to make music. I began to write and then I met Kim Cermak in the late 1980s and she was a great comfort to me.”
Garfunkel met former model Kathryn “Kim” Cermak while filming the movie, “Good to Go” (1986). They married in 1988, and have two children, James and Beau Daniel.
“The door of delight and psychological cleverness opened, a woman stronger than me, smarter than me. And that’s when I got started up again in music, no doubt very nervously,” says Garfunkel.
Garfunkel got into music at age four after his father brought home one of the first wire recorders. He would walk down alleyways singing, looking for echoes and different sounds.
Seven years later, he began singing at talent shows with his friend, Paul Simon, from their Forest Hills neighborhood in Queens, N.Y. They practiced, made demos and knocked on the doors of record companies. In 1957, they landed a record contract. Their first 45 rpm single, “Hey, Schoolgirl,” which they wrote, made the record charts and they appeared on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” on TV when they were high school seniors.
Garfunkel decided he wanted to go to school to earn “an honest living” and received a BA in Art History from Columbia College and an MA in Mathematics from Columbia University.
He continued singing and recorded several singles as Artie Garr. He met up with Simon again in 1962 and the rest is music history.
“I’m a singer first and foremost. I was singing in the alleyways in Queens at age five, singing Nat King Cole to myself and was thinking, ‘This is a nice voice you have, Arthur.’ I was always practicing,” says Garfunkel, 77.
“I wrote an autobiography, which is coming out this fall in paperback, and it taps the truth in me. Throughout this book, I write about my time with Simon and Garfunkel and my ex-partner, where I blossomed and the glories of my family, my walk across America and Europe. It’s very interesting.”
When asked about the State Theatre concert what fans can expect, Garfunkel says:
“I lost the voice and wasn’t really able to sing and started working up a new show around 2010, 2012. I began singing with one guitar and performing and now I also have my books, poems, and my life with my family. My show became the center of my life, along with my wife and kids, and this show brings that all to the stage.
“I am a very weird, creative guy, just trying to keep my life interesting. The survival of the fittest is not just words, it’s an interesting concept.
“I love my show and am excited by what’s going on right now. In spite of the era we live in, in spite of all the noise, I am making value in my life, in spite of it all. All I know is that life is a fabulous mystery and life is a beautiful thing. Be kind and watch out for messages and teachers. None of us know that much.”
Tickets: State Theatre Center for the Arts box office, 453 Northampton St., Easton; statetheatre.org; 1-800-999-7828; 610-252-3132