Garfunkel tackles standards, show tunes

March 12, 2007
The Quad-City Times, Davenport, IA
By David Burke

Art Garfunkel is positively giddy as he picks up the phone in his New York City office.

“I love this being alive stuff. Free eyesight every day, free hearing — the five senses given to us every day as a gift,” he said. “Far out.”

The 65-year-old Garfunkel credits such enlightenment to his second son, Beau, who was born in October 2005.

“The source of all vitality, godly spirit. He is a religious experience,” Garfunkel said. “What do we do with the adorable? We adore. To me, having the state of adoring around the house on the kitchen floor is just a religious state.”

Garfunkel is also excited about his new album, “Some Enchanted Evening,” which was released in late January.

It’s a collection of show tunes and standards — including “I Remember You,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Let’s Fall in Love,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” “What’ll I Do” and “If I Loved You” — that was produced by Richard Perry. Perry also produced “I Only Have Eyes For You,” Garfunkel’s 1975 remake of a 1950s remake by The Flamingos.

He said “Some Enchanted Evening” has the same vibe as that 1975 Garfunkel hit.

“We’re adding a sexy rock groove to a great old song,” Garfunkel said. “More slow dancing, as we know it in modern terms.”

Garfunkel said he and Perry had dabbled with the notion of a standards album as far back as the early 1990s. A day after he concluded his “Old Friends” reunion tour with Paul Simon in 2004, he and Perry made connections.

“The day I called him was the day he was calling me,” he said. “The time is very accepting of the great American songbook — let’s do it.”

Even though artists such as Rod Stewart, Carly Simon and Bette Midler have done their own albums of remakes, Garfunkel said he wasn’t concerned about joining the trend.

“Anything worth doing is worth having fun with,” he said. “My whole career is the one-off, the whole left field thing. I’m just trying to be good in my terms. I can’t worry about that.”

In the album notes, Garfunkel writes, “I confess I am under the sway of two magnificent singers, Chet Baker and Johnny Mathis.”

Garfunkel rattled off the song tracks on the album, evenly dividing them between his choices to record, Perry’s choices and a consensus of the two.

But he kept away from the producer’s role.

“Sometimes I make an album and I’m the kingpin behind the glass,” he said. “I’ve earned the right to arrange it the way I see it and structure it the way I want.

“Sometimes I play actor and structure myself to the producer’s vision,” he said of his projects, including “Some Enchanted Evening.”

Reviews for the album have been good.

“I hope it makes the American audience go, ‘This guy has been singing good for many years — it’s time to recognize him,’” Garfunkel said. “Wouldn’t I love it if I struck a meeting of the minds between me and public taste?”

Garfunkel said the “Enchanted” songs will make up about one-fourth of his concert Saturday night at the University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium. Another quarter comes from his solo work, and about half are Simon & Garfunkel songs, although that percentage “creeps up.”

“There’s a case of ‘who’s kidding who.’ The public loves the old stuff. I don’t want to live in the past, but I don’t want to be coy and drop ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ ” he said. “They love to hear them, and I never tire, I really don’t. As a singer, that’s my job — keep going after the definitive ‘Scarborough (Fair).’

“That’s what the job is about — keep the life and keep being a brilliant artist every damn night.”

Garfunkel downplayed reports on the Internet in the past several days that he would like to reunite with Simon for new recordings.

“That’s me opening my mouth. I started it with one little mention,” he said. “Now I have to stand by a position.

“I’ll deny it, although it is something I mentioned as a fond notion that recently has come to me.”