In the Studio : BOOKENDS With Art Garfunkel

August 16, 1998

Hi! Welcome to In The Studio. I’m Redbeard, bringing you the stories behind the greatest rock-n-roll albums in history. Today we’ll go in the studio with an American duo who are considered by many to be as important to pop music in the 1960s as the Beatles.

[Spoken over Intro to Mrs Robinson]


Art Garfunkel:
The concept of Bookends, and I remember when Paul started writing it he was very excited, that it was going to have this thematic .element. The concept was to take side one and let there be a bunch of songs that progressed from youthfulness to old age, in their lyric, in their feeling, in the tempo, in the spirit of the song. Everything about the opening cut should represent adolescence and everything about the final cut should be slow and winter like. Hi! I’m Art Garfunkel. In The Studio for our album Bookends.

Redbeard:
By 1968 Simon & Garfunkel were well established as premiere pop stars having already achieved three top five singles. It was 22 years ago that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel officially rose to super star level. Growing up in Queens New York, Simon & Garfunkel had been friends since the 6th grade. By the time they were 15 years old the pair had formed a duo adopting the names of Tom & Jerry. They did have mild success with one single in 1957 which led to an appearance on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. But that was as far as Tom & Jerry went. Going their separate ways in the early 60s. Garfunkel recorded some material as Artie Garr, while Paul made some recordings using the names Jerry Landis, and then one as Paul Kane, as well as leading a band called Tico & The Triumphs. Then in 1964 Simon & Garfunkel reformed their duo using their real names for a change. They released three albums in 1966 alone including the top five album Parsley, Sage Rosemary & Thyme. Live Rock-n-Roll tours were quite different then, as Art Garfunkel told me. It was his dedication to college mathematics that kept them close to home in the mid 60s.

Art Garfunkel:
I know that until 1967 I was at Columbia University continuing to be a student, working toward a Ph.D. actually, and so that kept me in New York during the week and on weekends we’d go out. This was particularly October/November and then again in March/April. We’d go out and do a weekend of shows, like we’d do a Milwaukee Friday night show and a Chicago Saturday night and a Minneapolis Sunday night and back in New York by Monday. In these days my records were taking hold of my life and it was slowly pulling me away from the sort of academic side. So I was in transition during these days. My real love was not so much the school and it wasn’t so much touring and doing these shows, it was in the recording studio downtown in mid Manhattan. Those were the years we were making those albums and that’s really where most of the time was going.

[A HAZY SHADE OF WINTER]

Redbeard:
From Simon & Garfunkels 1968 album Bookends, that’s A Hazy Shade of Winter. Even with the growing success that Simon & Garfunkel were enjoying half way through the 60s they had a keen understanding of just why they were making music in the first place. Now this fact is best realised when you consider their reason for getting involved organising the famous three day Monterey Pop Festival. According to Art Garfunkel it all started with a phone call from a guy nicknamed Pappa.

Art Garfunkel:
John Phillips called Paul & I in 66-67. Knew we were coming out to L.A. and wanted to talk about starting a festival with all free talent. And the idea that it was free talent meaning it’s not a commercial endeavour, the kids are going to know that we’re doing this for music sake and for a grand party sake, was going to be the essence of the show. And I liked it a lot because I thought, take the money element away and you have something that’s going to have a nice feeling about it. And we met, he and Michelle, Michelle Phillips, and Lou Adler , who was producing The Mamas & Papas records, and Paul and I. We met in California and talked about this festival we were gonna have up in Monterey, and we started making a guest list of who we would invite. And we had a lot of fun coming up with the names of the people, as we knew, who the real great ones were. Otis Redding and the Buffalo Springfield, and all these artists that we knew, well never mind what the company says or what is supposed to be, we felt we knew who the genuine good record makers were. And so we had this great time coming up with the perfect guest list and seeing if they would respond to doing this great show with no pay. And everybody said yes. Everybody except Ravi Shankar .who insisted in getting paid. And that was the first festival, and since then when Woodstock came shortly after that, my attitude was Woodstock is a bit of a copy of Monterey, because Monterey was a huge success. In terms of spirit, it was wonderful. A weekend of about 20 different acts, and I had a great feeling about that. When I saw Woodstock I felt well, it’s they are already now doing the second, it’s a copy, it’s the East Coast version of what we did. I always thought Monterey was the one.

[OLD FRIENDS]

Redbeard:
Old Friends with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel from Bookends. Just ask they had helped to inspire generation with the Monterey Pop Festival, Simon & Garfunkel were also greatly affected by the works of their contemporaries. And one album more than any other served to alter the way that they approached their craft. That record was the Beatles’ incredible Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Once again here’s Art Garfunkel.

Art Garfunkel:
Records were treated very seriously in that era when they were that good, because the Beatles had captured the imagination of the whole Western World. How terrific and creative an album could be was beginning to show that it had no limit. And when Sgt Pepper came out, and it was talked about for quite a bit beforehand, it somehow had us all glued to it. We all bought that record and brought it home that night and sat on the rug and turned up the volume and gave it the kind of attention you’d give to a film, when you sit in your seat and the screen parts and there’s the Paramount mountain. For once records had that, that kind of pre-set physiological position that movies demand. And it was brilliant, so creative, you loved the opening track, the use of applause and the collage of sound effects, and then came the second tune. And you see it was a whole other kind of sound. Now albums hadn’t done that before - keep changing the sound on you. And very few groups had done so many aspects of record making so well, from lyrics to arrangements, to engineering, to singing, to musicianship. So it made an album have a lot of variety, and if affected us. It was a real comparison point for Paul and I, to see and to go for an album that had such a creatively varied sound from cut to cut. It expanded what an album could be. I remember it was a huge inspiration to me and it was a depressant to Paul, because Paul felt we’ll never do anything that good, I’m going to bed! Ha ha ha ha

[FAKIN IT]

Redbeard:
Fascinating use of percussion and dynamics, from Bookends, that one’s called Fakin’ It. As a result of the Beatles influence on Simon and Garfunkel, they went into the Bookends recording sessions with an eagerness to try new things in the studio. That experimentation led to their decision to use a strange new instrument on a song, Save The Life Of My Child. Known up to this point as a mostly acoustic folky group, it’s ironic that Simon and Garfunkel turned out to be the first group to ever record with this new instrument. It was called a synthesiser.

Art Garfunkel:
Robert Moog had invented the synthesiser, and was having courses, in New York, for those who wanted to learn about this. And we would go to these classes to learn about this instrument. And we arranged to bring the whole thing into the studio, it’s an enormous contraption. We didn’t know how to use it. We knew it could make these wonderful saw-tooth buzzy sounds. It could do so many different things, but we said let’s use it as a bass instrument, let it be a pretend electric bass, a synthesised bass, and we tried to exploit the buzzy sound of the low end. So, that’s the first time that had ever been used.

[SAVE THE LIFE OF MY CHILD]

Redbeard:
The first song ever recorded using a synthesiser. That’s Save The Life of My Child from Simon & Garfunkel’s Bookends. When we come back we’ll find out how Simon and Garfunkel got involved in the big silver screen with the movie The Graduate. I’m Redbeard and you’re In The Studio for Simon & Garfunkels Bookends. {Break}

Redbeard:
Welcome back to In the Studio. This week highlighting Simon & Garfunkels legendary Bookends album. I’m Redbeard. A few months before Bookends came out, Simon & Garfunkels music had been featured prominently in the Mike Nichols movie The Graduate. A big hit at the box office. The Graduate catapulted newcomer Dustin Hofman to stardom and set up the release of Bookend in the process. I asked Art Garfunkel how he had been fortunate enough to have the songs of Simon and Garfunkel spotlighted in the movie The Graduate.

Art Garfunkel:
Let’s see - it started with Mike reaching Paul saying “I want you to come see the Graduate because I see your music in it and I want you to write a couple of tunes.” And I had just come back from Europe and Paul was saying “there’s a very funny film with this new actor Dustin Hofman that Mike’s got me looking at. I’ve now seen it a whole bunch of times, come take a look.” And I saw it and laughed. And he said “Mike wants me to write 3 songs and he wants us to sing them. Here’s the deal and such.” And Paul wrote a song called Punky’s Dilemma which ended up on our Bookends album and Mike didn’t like it. It was meant to be, if you know the film the Graduate there’s a scene when Dustin is home from college and he’s floating in his pool on a float, and so Punky’s Dilemma........ “wish I was a Kellogg’s cornflake floatin in my bowl takin' movies”.....kind of a slow jazz campy hip tune. Mike didn’t quite like it.

[PUNKY’S DILEMNA]

Redbeard:
I can still see Dustin Hofman floating in that pool, even if the song didn’t make it in the film. That’s Punky’s Dilemna the song director Mike Nichols didn’t quite like well enough to put in the movie The Graduate. Nichols originally intended to include a couple of new Simon & Garfunkel tunes in the film the Graduate but when all was said and done the only new track was one called Mrs Robinson. As Art Garfunkel tells it, that song unbelievably almost didn’t make it in the movie either.

Art Garfunkel:
In his waiting for Paul to come up with other tunes, because Paul writes slowly and carefully and brilliantly I might say, in Mike’s waiting he was living with pre-existing Simon & Garfunkel tunes that had come from albums that were already out and sinking them into the movie just as a work print kinda situation while he was waiting for the songs to be, the new stuff, the real stuff to be written. Meanwhile Mike was loving what he had. He was using Scarborough Fair at the end during this scene, and April Come She Will. during another scene, and as Mike was living with these pre-existing Simon & Garfunkel songs he began to like it and sort of say don’t even bother writing anything because I love what I have and I’m gonna take them right off your records and put them in these various places. There is room for just one new tune though during the chase scene. And so we were out in L.A. and talking about, you know we re-sang the Sounds of Silence, he used the exact Scarborough Fair, we didn’t have to re-sing that, or April Come She Will, but he was looking for an up tempo thing. And Paul was beginning to write something that at that point was called Mrs Roosevelt. Here’s to You Mrs Roosevelt and um I mentioned to Mike that Paul had this tune and Paul was not liking it and was about to drop it. And Mike said well it sounds like its ideal for what I want if we just change Roosevelt to Robinson. So Paul showed him the tune. Mike loved it, insisted he had to work on it. We then sang it in the sound stage in Hollywood, as a song that was only half written. So if as you know the song from the movie there’s the chorus but there are no verses because the verses hadn’t been written, so there’s dodahdodahdadetadets. Then later on in the Bookends album was finally written.

Redbeard:
And it wound up being the No.1 song in America for 3 weeks in June 1968 and brought Simon and Garfunkel two Grammy Awards. When they did record it for the Bookends album they used a couple of studio techniques to get exactly the sound they were looking for. If you listen to the song closely you may be able to tell that they used 4 different vocal tracks, all layered very tightly on top of each other. To describe the other production trick here’s Art Garfunkel.

Art Garfunkel:
Remember I said a while back in this interview that in Sgt Pepper one was so impressed with the variety of tune after tune on the album went in a different direction production wise and this gave the overall album a feeling of being a very varied creative package. So as when we would record each tune was a matter of trying to make it different from all the other tunes. Little touches um in Mrs Robinson you hear Paul play bidoobidaminbooboom very nice guitar figure and we wanted the guitar string to wobble a little. And what Paul didn’t do on the bending of the guitar string we did with a pencil on the actual tape as we were recording and it was running through the tape machine and we put the pencil near the capstan and just wobbled the take itself. In other words when everything was recorded and it was time to make the mix, where you combine all your sounds into one locked set of relationships, and you’re recording from the multi-tracks, this is getting pretty sophisticated, from the multi-track machine into your two-track final mix, we would wobble the actual tape in exactly the right amount in the right way so as to create a slight distortion and we did it on the guitar alone.

Redbeard:
Just one of the many experiments that engineer and producer Roy Halee helped Simon & Garfunkel pull off. Thanks in part to Mrs Robinson Simon & Garfunkel had the distinction of having both the number one and the number two albums at the same time in 1968. We’re talkin Bookends and the Graduate soundtrack - amazing. I wondered how Art Garfunkel felt about the final version of the song Mrs Robinson compared to the two unfinished mixes that appeared in the movie.

Art Garfunkel:
Well the song on Bookends is much more my kind of thing where we could stoke it and get it really right. In the movie it’s casual but on the record it’s cute as a deuce, it really is a nicely worked out single. Paul plays wonderful acoustic guitar. People don’t realise what a terrific guitar player Paul has always been, and it’s central to our hits that he plays such good rhythm guitar. I remember as we were recording it and I was in the control room and Paul was playing guitar out in the studio with Larry Knechtel on bass and Hal Blain on congo. And they were working out the arrangement around one mike and it was sounding very good, and I took a break just to hit the head, and I came back 5 minutes later and opened the door of the control room and hitting me as I walked in a flash was the progress in the last 5 minutes. And my ears said oh it’s fantastic. This is a big hit - they gelled so commercially I can’t believe it, and I went right into the control room Roy are you getting this stuff - is this down on tape. Roy says no let’s have em go from the top or let them finish and then we’ll go round again. Guys when you finish that take start again from the top and they rolled into it from the top. And I’m sure that that was the tape we used because they were hot. That became the core of the track of Mrs Robinson. There’s not a lot added to it when it’s swings so well in it’s basic form. You don’t really need to add much.

[MRS ROBINSON]

Redbeard:
Named after Anne Bancroft’s character in the movie The Graduate that’s Mrs Robinson. Up next we’ll learn about the art of record making. I’m Redbeard and you’re In The Studio with Simon & Garfunkels Bookends. {Break}

Art Garfunkel:
Hi, I’m Art Garfunkel In The Studio for our album Bookends.

Redbeard:
And I’m Redbeard. Welcome back. Earlier Art Garfunkel told us that his first love had always been the making of the albums, so I asked him to tell me a little about what it was like making records during the latter half of the 60s decade.

Art Garfunkel:
Well it was serious work for serious workers. We did night sections in those days, so we’d come in at 7 or 8 and start the coffee machine and then head down to the studio and there would be the wonderful Roy Halee. And you’d drive down in your rented car and come into the control room. The studio was enormous because they get a lot of string dates there. It was fairly modern, one of those wood parquet floor things and very huge floor. Orchestras of 104 whenever they needed to do that work. But I remember spending most or our time in the control room because from my point of view I was a record maker, a producer more than anything else. I would, in my own mind, send myself out on mike to do vocals, but the real me was the producer collecting those vocals and sinking them into the records and thinking what orchestration and what instrumentation was going to be needed, and who should we book, and what should we have them play, and is this a wet record or a dry record, what kind of echo, where will it be programmed in the album, how will we mix it. So I’m a control room guy and these ... you know we’re workaholics, Paul and I and Roy Halee. Manys a night we’d be rolling by around midnight, really into it, and the really fertile part of the session would be 2 - 3 - 4 in the morning. You’d be doing vocals and you’d be up to your 6th hour of singing. Ahhh, by 3 in the morning and you really wouldn’t peak until 6 in the morning, you’d still be getting great stuff on tape vocally after like about 8 - 9 hours of singing. Finally at 7 in the morning you’d feel OK there’s a really good nights labour and you’d head out and you’d get in the rented car and the sun would be coming up in Hollywood and you’d drive home with a wonderful feeling of excellent hard work - went through you.

[AT THE ZOO]

Redbeard:
According to songwriter Paul Simon the Zebras are reactionaries. At The Zoo. Bookends is truly a delight to listen to, and the considerable responsibility of getting all those different sounds and effects that you hear throughout the record belong to Simon and Garfunkel’s co-producer Roy Halee, a man that Art Garfunkel holds in high esteem to this day.

Art Garfunkel:
Well Roy is an engineer, consummate engineer with Rolls Royce standards, and as you know standards are everything. Those who hold to perfectionism knowing that you can get away with much less but you just can’t do it because something inside of you says excellence for its own sake. These are the blessed people for me and Roy is chief amongst this type, and Roy was this wonderful presence, a little older than us, a little more serious, a kind of a family man, whereas we were nuttier. Um and very loveable, the fact that he was so damned likeable is an important factor, and he was in charge of sounds, and Paul and I got to use him almost like the big brother figure, we would pitch our ideas to him, and he would be this physiological person that we chose to please with our creativity. Through the years I have come to feel its very important that the creative artist have a creative audience. If there’s just one great audience figures that you’re playing to and that person plays his audience role brilliantly, the artist can play his artist role brilliantly on account of it. It helps a lot. So Roy was a wonderful engineer who thought of sounds the moment he began to hear the songs, and in a sense thereby became co-producer because he did more than just make clean recordings, he made creative sound collages and I think of him as the third member of our triumph.

Redbeard:
One thing that makes Bookends so special is the common thread that runs throughout each of the tunes on the record. Art Garfunkel still remembers Paul Simon’s elation when Paul began to write the songs.

Art Garfunkel:
The concept of Bookends, and I remember when Paul started writing it, and he was very excited that it was going to have thematic element. The concept was to take side one and let there be a bunch of songs that progress from youthfulness to old age in their lyric, in their feeling, in the tempo, in the spirit of the song everything about the opening cut should represent adolescence, and everything about the final cut should be slow and winter like. And so that’s what those ... Save The Life Of My Child is a kid who flies away and it’s an adolescent theme, and them comes America and then comes Overs, a sort of a middle age marriage gone wrong song..... “why don’t we stop foolin ourselves the game is over” ....you know so it has this progression through it and we like that idea.

[OVERS]

Redbeard:
That’s called Overs. Even in a song about a relationship that’s ending, like Overs, there seemed to be an undefined optimism in the music and words of Simon & Garfunkel’s Bookends. Indeed there was a desire that pervaded the late 60s that had us all, as Paul Simon so aptly put it, Looking for America. Sadly, as someone who helps shape the music of that era, Art Garfunkel believes that that feeling disappeared a long time ago.

Art Garfunkel:
Well remember earlier in the interview I was saying how Monterey was conceived as an offering a musical offering more than it was conceived as a commercial enterprise. In the last 20 years we have seen very very few things that are conceived as not commercial enterprises. The truth is that Rock-n-Roll became a multi-billion dollar business, and businessmen moved in on it. And you have to go back to that earlier era to get a little more of an innocent thing where music was the emphasis and the love of a great record was the reason for the existence of many a tune. These were not calculated financial bids to make profit, you know, they were ... they were about let’s see how the great the record can be. Sure the kids are gonna buy it, you know, commerce is commerce, but somehow that was not the focus. And since then we’ve seen the whole thing corporatize itself to the great loss of the spirit of what could be. So when I think of those days, I think of myself as a recordmaker and the thrill of just going for the ... everything was the record, and how wonderful it could be, and the fact that the Beatles were influencing us. I guess the money was not so big as to be so intrusive.

[AMERICA]

Redbeard:
Winsome and melancholy, and wondering if they ever found it. That’s America from Simon and Garfunkel’s 1968 album Bookends. Two years later they would go on to make one of the most critically acclaimed albums of our time. But that’s a whole different story for another time.

This is Redbeard and I would certainly like to thank Art Garfunkel for one of the thrills of my life, helping us re-live the Bookends LP.