Art Answers Fan Questions
To celebrate the First Anniversary of the website, Art responded to a variety of fan questions that are not commonly asked in media interviews.
It is rumored there is a lot of unreleased solo material of yours including recordings you made as a child. Will any of this ever be released?
I suppose there is some. I haven't yet thought about its release.
You are known as a painstaking recording artist. If you could go through the process again, would you amend any of your solo releases?
Of course. I would continue the never-ending process of bringing almost everything Ive done closer to the original ideal. Some specifics off the top of my head: a) I would pull back the production of All I Know and particularly make the climax less grandiose. b) "(What A) Wonderful World" - the last verse, where I have the lead, its always seemed to me my pitch is a little under in spots. c) Fate for Breakfast - I would now reconsider several of the songs as not really strong enough. d) Watermark - I would now investigate bringing the vocals up a bit in the mix - I might have over-stroked the production.
What type of creative process do you go through before arranging and eventually recording a song?
I ask myself - is there a guitar or a piano at the center of the arrangement? Is it acoustic or electric? Whats the rhythm feel (this is tied to how I will phrase all nuances); whats the groove? Does it glide? Does it rock? Is production big or intimate? Is the sound (engineering) cool? Wet (reverby)? Hot? Who shall I book to lay down the basic track? Shall I take the key high or low (do I feel tenor or baritone about the song)? After the basic track (rhythm groove) I try to let the record tell me what wants to be added.
The motivation of (What A)Wonderful World is dissimilar to the Watermark concept, why was it included?
In the 70s, commercial thinking had me going for one or two single types in an album. You know - very radio programmable, strong, repetitive chorus; 2:50 to 3:20 in length, not too arty.
Some of your most successful songs (both critically and commercially) have been recordings of old standards, do you have plans to record more or possibly a whole album of this type?
Definitely yes. In the late 80s, Richard Perry and I started just this album. It was unfortunately aborted. Some Enchanted Evening came out good, and is in the can.
Abel Aroused Music appears on several liner notes, is this your music publishing company?
Why wasnt the successful Second Avenue included on the Breakaway album? And why is it not included on live performances?
I am the problem. Roy Halee brought the song to me. I never loved it, but recorded it at his urging. Its very well liked by my fans.
For personal or historical purposes, do you wish to be remembered for more of the creative input on the S&G products than todays media gives you credit for?
This question is a little coy. It leads to its own answer. My job is to never complain.
What is your favorite Art Garfunkel tune (even if you do not perform it in concert)?
Its a tie between: Scissors Cut, I Have A Love, Rag Doll, All My Loves Laughter.
The new Old Friends set has a live track of Bye Bye Love in which the audience erupts in cheers. Is this because you are playing guitar on this number?
No. Its because we recorded a live audience hand-clapping (in excellent rhythm) and therefore, being human, erupting. Then synched the vocals in the studio.
As S&G, you used to record into the early morning hours? Do you still find this time of day your most creative? How do you work past distractions?
No. As I got older I began to find the days hours best.
Of all the performances youve given, which locale is your favorite venue?
Carnegie Hall in N.Y.C. Royal Albert Hall in London. Central Parks Great Lawn in 1981 with Paul for 500,000 was a favorite locale. A street intersection in Central Sofia, Bulgaria in the late 80s, as a solo, for 1,200,000 people was special.
Are there any singers or songwriters you would like to perform with but have not done so yet?
Bruce Hornsby. Linda Ronstadt. Phil Collins.
Having guitarist Eric Weissberg on tour with you for the last several years has been a real treat for your fans. Will Eric continue in this role for the foreseeable future? How did you meet him?
I think so. I hope so. One day Eric was booked on a recording session of mine. It was in the late 80s. On a break, Eric stayed on mike and noodled some old standard (maybe Aint She Sweet) with infectious musicality. I saw that his time was impeccable and I knew he could make anything sound great. I was captured.
Do you anticipate working again with Jimmy Webb, Richard Perry, Leah Kunkel, Stephen Bishop, and/or James Taylor?
Yes, all of them in time. I hope.
Do you still enjoy the art of acting and do you hope to do so again?
Very much. I am actively looking for a part now.
If given a chance to act in any movie, what role would you pick to play? Why?
A hero. I want to tap that part of me.
Did you ever act in a Broadway play, if so, when, what was the plays name and what role did you play?
Do you plan on writing an autobiography?
The project has begun in 1998, but I have stopped it - Im of two minds on the subject.
Do you still write poetry and do you foresee publishing a volume subsequent to your wonderful collection Still Water ?
Yes I do. I have just begun walking across Europe, and Ive been writing again.
When did you learn to play guitar? Piano? Do you play by ear?
Guitar: 13, I think. Piano: about 8. By ear: not really.
You played piano on Silent Night, have you ever played an instrument on any of your solo records or on stage?
No. Save once - at a concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas and I played a Ravel piece for four hands at a keyboard.
How did your decision to teach at the Litchfield School come about?
I had come off of Bridge Over Troubled Water. I craved normality. I was in a relationship living in a country house I had brought. I knew I had a talent for teaching (I had tutored math to pay for college). The school was nearby.
Since many of your fans are influenced by your philosophy and sensibilities as well as your recordings and performances, it would be meaningful to know which books you have most enjoyed and which have most affected you. What are your top 5 favorite non-fiction books? Fiction books?
Non-fiction: 1. Bulfinch, Mythology, 2.Emil Ludwig, Napoleon, 3. Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, 4. Charles Chaplin, My Autobiography, 5. Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy. Fiction: 1. L.N.Tolstoy, War and Peace, 2. James Joyce, Ulysses, 3.Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past, 4. Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot, 5. V.Nabokov, The Enchanter.
Do you still plan to walk across Europe? What route would you like to take?
See above. I have begun in May. I dont want to reveal my route.
When you traveled via freighter, did you choose it just as a leisurely mode of transit or did you find the atmosphere conducive to inspiration? Do you still travel this way?
Freighter travel fit my sensibilities. The beauty of the sea, the romance of the stars. No passengers. I could break out of the 24-hour cycle and go on a fit of writing for 40 hours.
With all your travels around the world, where have you not yet gone and hope to go someday?
I have never been in South America and I look forward to seeing Brazil, Argentina, and Chile; I dont know Africia (except Morocco) so theres the Nile, Tanzania; Id love to see the middle of China, to visit the Himalayas - Katmandu. I hear India is a special land. Other places I have never seen: Cuba, Iceland, Greenland, Istanbul, Viet Nam, Antartica, Korfu, Alexandria.
Did you really once sink 102 consecutive foul shots? Did you play basketball while in high school or college?
In the summer of 55, I had a lung infection. I couldnt run around, but I love basketball and there was a hoop nearby. Much of the summer I spent methodically hitting 96, 98 foul shots out of 100. Then 102! I never played on a team after Junior High School. Just 3 against 3, half court pick up games in the schoolyard.
What sports did you play in college?
Tennis, skiing, fencing, bowling.
Why the Philadelphia Phillies?
I never followed the crowd. So as a Queens kid, I didnt want to be a Dodger, Yankee, or Giant fan. One day when I was 8 I went to Ebbets Field and saw the Phillies with their red pin-stripes, Robin Roberts, Pudinhead Jones. Somehow this was for me. The rest is loyalty. Decades of pain.
What are your plans for the future?
To keep learning to handle the lure of intensity vs. the lure of balance.