In September, Art Garfunkel released a new single "I Only Have Eyes For You" backed by "Looking For The Right One." It was an instant hit reaching #18 in the US and #1 in the UK.
In October, Art Garfunkel released his second solo album BREAKAWAY (U.S.#9, U.K.#7) to wide acclaim. The album featured several hits in addition to "I Only Have Eyes For You," including "My Little Town," (a duet with Paul Simon) another top ten hit, "Breakaway" (U.S.#39) with background vocals by David Crosby and Graham Nash, "Looking For The Right One" (a Stephen Bishop tune), "Disney Girls" and "99 Miles From LA." The album also includes a wonderful rendition of Stevie Wonder's classic, "I Believe (When I Fall In Love With You It Will Be Forever)". Larry Knechtel again performs brilliantly on piano. The album was co-produced with Richard Perry, who produced records for Barbra Streisand and Ringo Starr. During one of the recording sessions in May, Elvis (who was recording in a neighboring studio) dropped by to say hello. On the cover of the album, the woman to Art's left is Laurie Bird. Laurie would become very close to Art for several years until her untimely death in 1979. See Breakaway Interview with Art Garfunkel and Richard Perry discussing the evolution of the Breakaway album. The album attained Platinum certification.
In July, Art Garfunkel performed with Paul Simon at the CBS convention in Toronto, Canada. They sang "My Little Town," "The Boxer," "Scarborough Fair," and "Bye, Bye, Love."
In October, Art Garfunkel made a 3-day trip to London to record a video for "I Only Have Eyes for You", for Top of the Pops. He was also interviewed for MELODY MAKER magazine from the back seat of a Daimler limousine (accompanied by Laurie Bird whom he met in July).
In October, Paul Simon hosted "Saturday Night Live" where he introduced "his friend, Art Garfunkel" to thunderous applause. Paul and Art sang several songs together, including "The Boxer." Art performed a solo of "I Only Have Eyes For You." Paul told Art on the air, "It's good to sing with you again."
In November, Paul Simon was performing at New York's Avery Fisher Hall. Art Garfunkel came on stage at the end of the show and sang several songs with Paul including "My Little Town," "The Sound of Silence," "Scarborough Fair" and "Old Friends." Art also appeared during the encore at Paul's Los Angeles and Berkley, California concerts.
Also in the Fall, Art Garfunkel was interviewed by the BBC for a program entitled "My Top Twelve".
In February, Simon & Garfunkel were nominated for another Grammy for Best Vocal Performance by a Group, for "My Little Town." They lost to the Eagles "Lying' Eyes."
Songwriter Mike Batt was asked by the producer of the animated film WATERSHIP DOWN, to write a song about death without making it too morbid. The result - "Bright Eyes." Mike Batt had Art Garfunkel in mind when he wrote the song, but he never thought Art would agree. Fortunately for both, Art loved the song and agreed to sing it.
During the Spring, Art recorded background vocals for several artists including; Stephen Bishop's CARELESS album, James Taylor's IN THE POCKET album and J.D. Souther's BLACK ROSE album.
In the April 22nd issue of ROLLING STONE Magazine, "country music cutup Kinky Friedman threw a burritos-and-beer bash in his new Hollywood apartment." Among the guest were Art Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jack Nicholson, Elliott Gould, Dennis Hopper, Roger McGuinn and the Band's Rick Danko and Levon Helm. According to RS, the "high point of the evening came when Kinky, Dylan and Garfunkel serenaded Elliott Gould with a beery rendering of 'People'." (editor's note: Gould was once married to Barbra Streisand)
In the June 3rd issue of ROLLING STONE Magazine, there is a picture of Art Garfunkel and Jimmy Webb taken aboard the Magnifico II, a 110-foot yacht with a 24-track studio. Gary Kellgren, a Record Plant executive, made the boat available for recording excursions along the California coast. Joining Webb and Garfunkel on this trip were Harry Nilsson, Sly Stone and Glen Campbell.
Beginning in December, and throughout all of 1977, Art would work on his next solo album. Although he recorded a significant part of the tracks in California, he traveled to Alabama to work with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (who previously worked with Paul Simon), and to Dublin to work with the Irish group, Chieftains. He also recorded a couple of tracks in New York.
Art Garfunkel spent most of the year in California producing his next album (which would not see a world-wide release until 1978).
In August, Art released the single, "Crying In My Sleep" (U.K. #25), a Jimmy Webb tune.
In October, Art Garfunkel along with Paul Simon go to London to receive the Britannia Music Award for best single in 25 years of pop history -"Bridge Over Troubled Water."
In December, Art Garfunkel was the musical guest on NBC's Paul Simon Special, a one hour show of comedy and music. Other guests included Chevy Chase, Charles Grodin and Lily Tomlin.
In Woody Allen's film ANNIE HALL, Laurie Bird plays Paul Simon's on-screen girlfriend. Ms. Bird was Art Garfunkel's real life girlfriend.
WATERMARK (U.S. #19, U.K. #25), Art Garfunkel's third solo album was released in the spring (the album had a limited release in October 1977, without the hit single "(What a)Wonderful World"). With the exception of that hit single, the tracks were all written and composed by Jimmy Webb. Webb wrote Art's first solo single, "All I Know" which was released on the ANGEL CLARE album (1973). "All My Love's Laughter" stood out as a fine example of Jimmy Webb's ability to compose beautiful love songs. The album was really a tribute to Jimmy Webb's exceptional songwriting ability, sensitively interpreted by Art Garfunkel. The album also contained Sam Cooke's "(What a) Wonderful World" (U.S. #1 Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart) sung by Art, Paul Simon and James Taylor and produced by Phil Ramone. The song turned out to be a major hit with the blend of the three singers voices creating a uniquely rich sound. WATERMARK went gold on March 2, 1978 (his third consecutive gold album).
In the April 3, 1978 issue of NEWSWEEK, Tony Schwartz reviewed Art Garfunkel's WATERMARK album. Excerpts follow:
Fortified with new material from his latest album, Watermark, he has embarked on a 40-city tour, his first since 1970. Even the cover of his current album bespeaks his new attitude. Garfunkel is pictured reclining in a lounge chair on a sun deck, just a few yards from the ocean (editor's note: this photograph was taken by Laurie Bird). There is a broad smile across his face. "I wanted to come out from the masks, to get away from the shadows, including my own," says Garfunkel.
Schwartz continued, "The sunny image is in stark contrast to his former partner's. While Paul Simon continues to write introspective, often despairing songs, Garfunkel has chosen simpler, softer-edged tunes set to luxuriant arrangements. The format highlights what has always been his best quality: an effortlessly lyrical voice that is as smooth and unfettered as any in pop music. For Watermark, his most graceful album yet, Garfunkel settled largely on tunes by Jimmy Webb, the prolific songwriter known for his lavishly romantic lyrics and lively melodies. It was to the latter that Garfunkel was especially attracted. 'I respond more to notes than to lyrics,' he (Garfunkel) explains. "I'm interested in their richness and power. What I get caught up in is texture and sonority - the sound per se."
"Garfunkel makes no apologies for his simple, sentimental style", writes Schwartz. Garfunkel added, 'When I got on my own, I became more selfish. I've been criticized for being too lush, but what that really means is that my leaning is more legato than percussive. I happen to like smooth, connected notes more than choppy, staccato ones. I find some songs too gritty, too sophisticated. My style is to sing bloody, from the heart - and, if I want to work in a palette of red, salmon, pink, orange, rose and bright crimson, then I will. I work a lot on the crafting. It's exhilarating at first and then very painful. I fuss with the dynamics - emptiness vs. busyness, peaks followed by valleys, tension and then resolve. I get caught up because I think it takes a special love for the music to make it work.'
The May, 1978 issue of STEREO REVIEW listed WATERMARK as Album of the Month and published a review in an article entitled, "Garfunkel Sings Webb: A Fusion of Two Major Talents Produces an Album to Be Proud Of." Here are a few excerpts:
Art Garfunkel sings eleven Jimmy Webb songs better than anyone else has so far. Garfunkel has exactly the right spare, intelligent vocal style for Webb's intense, deeply felt lyrics and the nonchalant but enormously secure musicianship the elusive music demands. In song after song Art Garfunkel brings to performing completion the work of one of America's best writers of popular music.
If there is a single high point in the album it is probably Garfunkel's performance of Webbs' 1972 song "Mr. Shuck 'n' Jive", in which the acid of the lyrics etches a portrait of an angry loser. Garfunkel manages to infuse Webb's lyrics with a generous compassion that makes sense of, and gives heart to,... the lines. Another fine job is done on "Crying in My Sleep", in which Garfunkel creates the fluorescent light burning at three o'clock in the morning atmosphere of emptiness and futility, all that is left of a burned-out love affair. But it is the fusion of the two major talents, Garfunkel and Webb, in everything that is done here that gives the album its glow. "All My Love's Laughter" and "Watermark", seem to be fresher than anything I've heard all year, and for these alone Garfunkel would deserve a large measure of our gratitude.
So, hurray for everybody - Garfunkel, Webb, and most of all, the listener. Watermark is a truly distinguished effort and an album of which everyone involved can be enormously proud.
In the May 18th issue of ROLLING STONE Magazine, Rich Wiseman reviewed WATERMARK, wherein he called Art's third solo album his "best solo LP" to date. Speaking with Wiseman, Jimmy Webb described WATERMARK as 'highly esoteric' before shyly venturing that he considered it a 'major work'." Wiseman continued,
Well, the encouraging sales figures would seem to indicate that the album isn't as limited in appeal as Webb may have feared. And that's good, because WATERMARK contains some very worthy pop music. Garfunkel, a longtime admirer of Webb, appreciates these songs and his commitment to them shines through in both his singing and his intelligent production. WATERMARK is at once creamily thick and as light as a soufflé. The uncluttered, subtly textured sound is no small achievement. Watermark cruises from the upbeat dreaminess of 'Saturday Suit' through the moodiness of 'Wooden Planes' to the evergreen coolness of 'She Moved Through the Fair', a traditional Irish folk song.
In the Spring, Art Garfunkel began his first major solo tour of the U.S. (50 cities) since his days with Paul Simon. Art felt he finally had enough material from his three solo albums to justify a full concert tour. Leah Kunkel (sister of Cass Elliott from The Mamas and Papas) joined Art on tour. Leah appears on WATERMARK as well as several later albums. The reviews of the tour were very good. Critics praised Art's performance as both polished and professional. More importantly, Art told reporters, "I'm finding this tour incredibly satisfying." Art closed his U.S. tour at New York's Carnegie Hall. Paul Simon joined Art to sing their 1975 hit "My Little Town." Jimmy Webb also appeared for several songs on piano. THE NEW YORK TIMES wrote of Art's Carnegie Hall appearance:
Mr. Garfunkel has become a compelling song stylist and an understated, but remarkably musical vocal technician. He has the rare ability to put a song over with a maximum of feeling, a minimum of fuss and an admirable control of pitch, timbre and phrasing.
Columbia Records celebrated Art's successful tour and album with a party at Tavern-on-the-Green in New York's Central Park.
On March 11th Art hosted Saturday Night Live, the musical guest was Stephen Bishop.
Art Garfunkel and Laurie Bird moved from the West Coast back to New York City.
FATE FOR BREAKFAST, Art Garfunkel's fourth solo album, was released in May (U.S. #67, U.K.#2). It includes the hit single, "Since I Don't Have You" (U.S. #53, U.K. #38). The U.K. album release also included "Bright Eyes," which reached #1 in the U.K. (the single alone sold well over 1 million copies and was Art's second #1 hit in the U.K.). The song was released as a single in the U.S., but did not appear on an album until SCISSORS CUT (1981). The album was beautifully produced by Louis Shelton (with the exception of "Bright Eyes," which was produced by Mike Batt) with several top notch musicians, including Larry Knechtel (who played piano on "Bridge"), Richard Tee (electric piano), Michael Brecker (horns) and Stephen Bishop and Leah Kunkel on vocals. Stephen Bishop also contributed a song entitled "Sail on a Rainbow." The CD version of FATE FOR BREAKFAST, which was released in the late '80s, includes "Bright Eyes." The covers for the album were photographed by "Saturday Night Live's" Edie Baskin in February depicting the six stages of breakfast (all six covers were used in worldwide distribution of the album).
STEREO REVIEW picked the album FATE FOR BREAKFAST as "Best of the Month" in their July, 1979 issue. Excerpts from the article written by Peter Reilly entitled, "Art Garfunkel: Ballad Singer with a Conspiratorial Wink," follow:
There are some few performers whose work one almost automatically likes and respects. For instance, I've always liked Art Garfunkel's direct, unpretentious performing manner, and the sly wit I find mixed with a resolute integrity in his recordings inspires respect. I've found him from the first to be much more believable, somehow, both as a person and as a performer, than his one-time partner Paul Simon, and his solo career since the two split up has only reaffirmed that impression. These ruminations are inspired, of course, by Columbia's recent release of Garfunkel's new FATE FOR BREAKFAST (with its wry afterthought "Doubt for Dessert" on the back cover). It is, of all the weirdly unfashionable things to be these days, an album of ballads...a la Art Garfunkel - which means that the material is first of all carefully selected and then filtered through a distorting lens to produce a slight, but definite, sense of detachment. He sings, for example, in what sounds like a leased contralto, apparently as close to fashionable falsetto as he cares to come, but close enough to suggest a non-serious 'classiness' that is excused by a quick, conspiratorial wink.
This is a dynamite album of popular music. Perhaps I can best give you the flavor of the enterprise when I say that Garfunkel's repertoire and performances here relate in a touching way to the flip side of the characters in a Billy Joel song. This is precisely the kind of music they would listen to, savor, and robustly and unselfconsciously identify with, the style they would like to aspire to. And no doubt I should add that that observation is not intended as any kind of condescension, for this is a legitimate musical style and those are legitimate aspirations.
A lot of credit must go here to the sympathetic production Louie Shelton has provided. It is as smooth as yogurt and as sharp as Tabasco. When the going gets Dramatic, as it frequently does in such things as "Beyond the Tears" and "When Someone Doesn't Want You," the arrangements, with their swooping, heavy-beat keyboards and acoustic guitars, let you know that Serious Business is unmistakably afoot. When it turns Inspirational, as in "Sail on a Rainbow," the charts are as creamily homogenized as the Philadelphia string section.
Fate for Breakfast is entertaining, enjoyable fun on several levels. Garfunkel doesn't patronize his material; he merely pokes some gentle, affectionate fun at our sentimental weaknesses, at the same time paying superprofessional homage to the pop-music genre itself.
In February, Art Garfunkel hosted the the highly popular NBC Television show Saturday Night Live, with musical guest Paul Simon.
Beginning in March, Art spent the next four months shooting on location in Vienna and London for the Nicolas Roeg film BAD TIMING - A SENSUAL OBSESSION.
In May, the animated film WATERSHIP DOWN was released along with the single "Bright Eyes" (see 1976 for background on this song). The song was a great commercial success (#1 in UK for 6 weeks, CBS's first #1 million seller in the UK selling 1.7mm units. It was also #1 in six countries) for both Mike Batt (composer) and Art Garfunkel (performer). The song also helped the film become more widely known. Although the song deals with the elusiveness and mystery of death, it seemed to capture an emotion among a wide audience.