Art Garfunkel relies on the real

The Press-Enterprise
January 13, 2010
by Vanessa Franko

After decades of singing, Art Garfunkel credits the preservation of his voice to two things -- his ears.

"I use my own ears to make all my judgments about what the voice is about," Garfunkel said in a recent telephone interview. "I sing to please my ears. I critique myself with my own ears."

He gets a good night's sleep when he has a concert coming up.

"Leave it as one of God's wonderful mysteries, gifts to man, that he can warble those two little vocal cords and make different pitches, and just respect how magnificent that gift is.

"Get your pitches exactly right. Make a beautiful transition from one note to another. Make your diction and clarity be something of delight. Every syllable, there's a way to give it star quality when you're on the mic. Every syllable, they can shine, these syllables. If you respect what it is to be able to sing as God's gift, the rest is, 'Stay out of the way,' " Garfunkel said.

Garfunkel comes to the California Theatre of the Performing Arts in San Bernardino on Sunday. He plans to sing a collection that includes Simon & Garfunkel hits and favorite songs from other artists.

The New Yorker became a household name singing with Paul Simon and also garnered acclaim for acting in "Carnal Knowledge," "Catch-22" and most recently "Flight of the Conchords." He has walked across the United States, written books and had a successful solo career.

Garfunkel's most recent release was 2007's "Some Enchanted Evening," his take on some of the best-known and loved standards. He doesn't know when he might work on new material again, he said, noting that the music industry and record business have changed dramatically.

"I can't feel part of it. I don't know what it is. I guess I fell into a posture of letting the world go its way while I went my way -- which is raising two kids and singing on stage," he said. "The world went computer and Internet and iPod and download, and I didn't go there."

But his voice has remained timeless. Garfunkel has recorded some of the most memorable vocals in American pop music, including "Bridge Over Troubled Water," among others.

"It's such a mystery how you latch onto a piece of material that gives you wings. If the lyric is not really about something and if it's really fake, it will reveal itself while the singer struggles to give life to something that can't have life. It's fake," Garfunkel said. "Material is everything. I sing the songs of some really great writers. Their poetics take me."