"My Top Twelve"

The following interview took place on a popular BBC Radio program entitled "My Top Twelve" where celebrities talked about their lives, loves and also have a chance to pick and talk about their all time top twelve favorite records.

INTERVIEWER: Our guest this week is a musician whose work is probably even more familiar, over recent weeks in this particular time slot as half of the two gentlemen whose story has just been told. It is Art Garfunkel. Art, it's nice to welcome you to the show and the general format is we talk about you and we talk about the records, but could we have your first choice straight away.

ART GARFUNKEL: First of all thanks, it is nice to be here. I picked a list of various songs that are my favorite and I would like to start with one of the classics of all, the Rolling Stones record of "Satisfaction". (editors note: "Satisfaction" is then aired)

INTERVIEWER: There's one we heard from time to time on this show, not surprising. A very effective Stones track. How much are you into that kind of music as a type?

ART GARFUNKEL: Record that has a good Oh, I love good rock and roll. Any beat and is strong and keeps real good time. Has interesting electric guitar stuff. Good lick. I love rock and roll.

INTERVIEWER: Do you find that the better British bands are able to do this intrinsically - American music?

ART GARFUNKEL: Yes, I find they can do it just fine. I almost thought your question was going to be do you find the better British bands are even better at it than the Americans. I would almost tend to agree. Some of the most creative rock and roll records I know are British group records.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think there was any original contribution from British bands in the first invasion of the States, charts and so on?

ART GARFUNKEL: I don't know if I would say that British groups had an original contribution musically. It would be hard to say what original musical elements they brought into rock and roll. Certainly they brought in a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm - the Beatles of the '60's. Creatively, I'm not sure there was anything innovative however.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think perhaps from the lyric aspect of things, that did seem to me to change abruptly with, as you just said, the Beatles era?

ART GARFUNKEL: Well, how so Brian. We have Dylan who certainly effected lyrics, but that's an American. Paul Simon in a sense took that further. I wonder which Britisher's {sic.} you're thinking of in terms of lyric?

INTERVIEWER: I would have thought Lennon and McCartney, especially. They took everyday subjects and treated them sometimes romantically and sometimes excitingly. Away from the long tradition of the sort of Moon and June song writing.

ART GARFUNKEL: Funny, without meaning to say anything that implies less than great respect and awe for all the members of the Beatles. I wouldn't say that their lyric content was the innovative thing. In fact, I almost still think of their songs as still somewhat Moon and June, the early songs.


ART GARFUNKEL: Yes, I didn't think that that was really changing the course of rock and roll with, their lyric stuff. I found their lyrics very good and I would say that they were appealing and affectionate. But not innovative.

INTERVIEWER: Alright, fine. Let's have your next choice in music.

ART GARFUNKEL: The next one is by the Everly Brothers, I love to hear "Let It Be Me". (editor's note: "Let It Be Me" is then aired. It should also be noted that Art many years later performed a duet of this tune with Julio Inglesis on Julio's Crazy album from 1994. It is a terrific rendition, Julio and Art sound great together.)

INTERVIEWER: Well you couldn't have picked a better Everly's for me, Art - "Let It Be Me". A tremendous song, must of been hard to choose one of theirs I imagine.

ART GARFUNKEL: It was very hard because they're such favorites of mine and Paul Simon's and of almost anybody who does harmony. It's hard to pass by "Bye Bye Love" or "All I Have To Do Is Dream".

INTERVIEWER: Perhaps one of the earliest musical influences that you are aware of, on you?

ART GARFUNKEL: Quite true.

INTERVIEWER: What was your first point in time when you realized this was the sort of thing you wanted to do yourself?

ART GARFUNKEL: I never quite got to that point, except when I already was in it after I had a record. I never thought this is what I wanted to do and I could actually make a viable way of life out of making pop records. But then nobody did in those days. It has become somewhat more legitimate, or some of us can get away with it as actual adults.

INTERVIEWER: Did you ever want to be anything else?

ART GARFUNKEL: I thought I was going to go to college and pick one of the more reputable professions and be an upright citizen. All of that seems like so much nonsense now. I guess it doesn't do to well to envision these projected scenarios of the future, what happens in just about every case is you fall into whatever you fall into. The next thing you know, you're looking back in retrospect at what it is you've now been doing for the last how many years.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, looking back on retrospect then, you're reasonably happy the way things went?

ART GARFUNKEL: To the extreme.

INTERVIEWER: Right, which is not really surprising. We've come to an extreme example of record production, I would imagine, for your next choice.

ART GARFUNKEL: I would have chosen the same words. Because the Beach Boys record of "Good Vibration", is to me the great producers record. (editors's note: "Good Vibration" is then aired.)

INTERVIEWER: Okay, Beach Boys and "Good Vibrations". On your own current album, you've got a Beach Boys number yourself, haven't you?

ART GARFUNKEL: Yes I do. Bruce Johnson's record of "Disney Girls", it goes back several albums ago for the Beach Boys.

INTERVIEWER: What motivated the choice of material for the new album? There are three tracks on there which one could call oldies including your most recent hit single "I Only Have Eyes For You".

ART GARFUNKEL: If you are thinking like the Beach Boys...

INTERVIEWER: More particularly "I Only Have Eyes For You".

ART GARFUNKEL: Yes, I think of that as the only real oldie, the only song I've really gone back for. The other songs are either new songs that nobody has heard or else they're songs from recent albums that I have culled.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, I'm interested particularly in "I Only Have Eyes For You" track. It seems almost a trend at the moment for contemporary singers to choose nostalgic or older material. Did it just happen for you or was it a sort of deliberate kind of policy?

ART GARFUNKEL: Well, we recorded, I say we, Richard Perry and I recorded "I Only Have Eyes for You" in the most unusual way. We were going to the studio that night and our plans for something else that we had intended to record fell through that night. So we had the musicians booked and no material. This is a situation I have never been in before. I have always been mindful of all the many young talents - the people who don't have the resources to get into the studio, how precious it is to have studio time. Here am I going off and not even knowing what I'm going to record. So Richard said, "lets do 'I Only Have Eyes For You', it's a favorite of mine and I've been wanting to do it for many years. I have an idea of the kind of record I'd like to make." And very fearfully, I say fearfully because I have never proceeded in this kind of casual way. I said, well alright, lets try it and see what we can do tonight.

INTERVIEWER: Do you recall exactly how long it took you to arrive at the finished product?

ART GARFUNKEL: On that particular song?


ART GARFUNKEL: "I Only Have Eyes For You" is nice and easy. Sometimes things really do gel. Four hours later we had the basic track and it had a nice smooth grove to it.

INTERVIEWER: Very good. Alright, let's move on to number four on your Top Ten Album.

ART GARFUNKEL: Great. Lets play an oldie from the fifties. This is what I would say is one of those seminal records, it being a model that kind of set down what we now think of as the basic rhythm and blues feeling - Hughie 'piano' Smith's record of "Don't You Just Know It". (editor's note: "Don't You Just Know It" is aired.)

INTERVIEWER: Hughie 'piano' Smith, there's one I'm sure is going to prompt quite a few letters saying what was it called and where can we get it. The answer probably is they can't anymore, I would think. Again, talking about your new album Art, there is one track where you teamed with Paul. A rather unusual -

ART GARFUNKEL: Paul who? Paul Simon!

INTERVIEWER: (laughs) A rather unusual aspect about this, is that it is also on his album, and it is also going to be a single. Correct?

ART GARFUNKEL: Furthermore, they were all released the same day in America, so that makes it all the more fun.

INTERVIEWER: Having both gone your own individual ways record wise, what is it now five years. What instigated this reunion for one track which you both used?

ART GARFUNKEL: Circumstance, accident, chance. We've been hanging out a lot, Paul and I in New York City this past year and he's been sharing with me some of the songs he's been working on and I've been showing him some of the things I'm recording. At one point in the Spring, Paul said, "here's a song that I don't think I'm going to get to and it might be very nice for your album." Because it has always been Paul's theory that my albums are ballad heavy. So his gift was something up tempo that had more of a bite to it. He thought it might help me and I appreciated it and I appreciated his record astuteness, you know, to think of my program as well as my album. As I began to work on the song I began to see that it would be lovely in harmony, particularly the bridge, the middle section. So I kind of pulled him into singing in harmony, which once we started doing was most pleasurable.

INTERVIEWER: So, therefore it's not entirely impossible that you will record together again?

ART GARFUNKEL: No, it is not entirely impossible.

INTERVIEWER: But, it is pretty unlikely that the next group will ever record again?

ART GARFUNKEL: Well, I don't know. I sometimes I think we are not too different from The Beatles. In that, first and foremost is a long standing friendship that underlies all this stuff. We don't want to take our careers so seriously that we actually blow the old and dear friendships that we have. So, I wouldn't be surprised if some of The Beatles or all of The Beatles do something together.

INTERVIEWER: Tell us why you chose this particular song?

ART GARFUNKEL: Because as a romantic balladeer myself I always thought this was the sweetest and most lyrical of all The Beatles songs, it's "Here, There and Everywhere". (editor's note: "Here, There and Everywhere" is aired)

INTERVIEWER: Do you enjoy most of The Beatles material?

ART GARFUNKEL: Yes. Definitely.

INTERVIEWER: How do you feel about their individual efforts since their split.

ART GARFUNKEL: I'd hate to say anything that is not flattering to The Beatles because like everyone else, I'm such a Beatles fan. But my great admiration for The Beatles was peaked around the late '60's.

INTERVIEWER: Yes. Okay, lets close side one of your top twelve selections with a record that as we record this program certainly we haven't heard. I believe is very new.

ART GARFUNKEL: It's brand new, not many people have heard it. It's been out a few weeks now. I first heard it because J.D. Souter, the writer of the song played it for me in Hollywood over the summer. I was out at his house and it was so impressive to me - my life stopped when I heard the record. It is just a heart piercer for me. It's Linda Ronstadt's new record called "Prisoner In Disguise" which I want everybody to hear. (Editor's note: "Prisoner In Disguise" is aired)

INTERVIEWER: I hope everyone else enjoyed hearing "Prisoner In Disguise". Art as we start side two of this Top Twelve Album of yours, or imagined album. One question about your own motivation generally. What personally is your motivating ambition having had that kind of success? What drives you to make more records?

ART GARFUNKEL: What drives me is the fact that music is a very large subject and has infinite room for exploration. Music is one of the most wonderful things in the world. The other day I was listening to something and I was singing with Laurie my friend and we were both singing together and I said, notice how when you are really in tune with the record and you're singing along with it. It becomes almost like a vehicle, it takes you over and takes you someplace. It's as if music is built into the universe in a way that precedes humans, it's beyond what we are. We can at best hitch ourselves to it as if it were a galaxy. And if we're lucky, we can go with it. It's kind of a primal energy. It's such a rich and large field that I could easily spend the rest of my life digging deeper and exploring further on how to make more feeling and more communicative music.

INTERVIEWER: Well, from a question I've asked a great many people, that was the most satisfactory answer we've heard yet.

ART GARFUNKEL: You see popularity, Brian, is another thing which I'm not disinterested in. It's another thing. That you can spend your energy on and use that up and that can be a dead end I suppose.

INTERVIEWER: I would have thought so. A lot of energy expended on the track that opens side two of this album.

ART GARFUNKEL: Oh yes, that is Phil Spector's great record. I say that the great producers record is "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys. But even as I was saying those words I was wondering if Phil Spector would be taking offense, because I think of Spector as the great record producer of the whole rock and roll era. This is probably his best record, Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep and Mountain High". (editor's note: "River Deep and Mountain High" is aired)

INTERVIEWER: What a way to start off the second side of any album. I think we should get back to a subject we were talking about a little bit during side one, Art. When you were making "I Only Have Eyes For You", it was the first time you ever experienced this almost self indulgence, when you went into the studio and not really know what you were going to do. Was this totally different from the way you worked in the past as a solo artist and even when you were working with Paul?

ART GARFUNKEL: In that sense, in the degree in which it was so casually and spontaneously hit upon, yes. That is very unusual for me, I've always been methodical.

INTERVIEWER: But as a very successful record artist, surely you long ago reached the situation where you can spend all the time you need in the studio?


INTERVIEWER: Which a lot of youngsters don't have.

ART GARFUNKEL: Don't make me feel guilty (both laugh).

INTERVIEWER: No, no, I'm not. What I wanted to get at was does this radically affect the kind of music you tend to perform and the actual structure of the end product?

ART GARFUNKEL: I'm not so sure. I resist being too technical about how we make records. It's very easy to use highfalutin language and kind of bolster up our egos as if we're super scientific specialists, us record makers. In fact, music is a lot of accident and it's a lot of chance, a lot of none planning. When it's right, it often breaks all the rules. It's perverse how much it can go against all of the formula elements that one tries to use in order to do something that can just accidently happen.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, lets move back again to the old rock and roll era for your next choice.

ART GARFUNKEL: The next choice is another one that I call piano records, it's Frankie Ford's "Sea Cruise". (editor's note: "Sea Cruise" is aired)

INTERVIEWER: Frankie Ford and "Sea Cruise", early 50's. Rock records were very simply made back then, weren't they? Very often there were few microphones and probably a one or two take job. Very far removed from the sort of records we've been talking about. Do you think that modern techniques and studio techniques have radically changed styles of music?

ART GARFUNKEL: Yes, I would say that is true. And there is one major change, and I encounter it every time I speak with someone from my parents generation. Where the notion of a record or a song is a performer who steps in front of a microphone, has an orchestra backing that's strictly in a supporting role and then performs the song. In the same way that a Shakepearean actor would perform a monologue. Of course, now all of that has been changed around. The singer is now one of the elements that is creating a totally new musical experience. He need not necessarily be the front performer while the orchestra is the backing. To me, it is more sound, for sound sake that makes up the entertainment value.

INTERVIEWER: There used to be a funny sort of old fashioned idea that if you made something in the recording studio which you couldn't reproduce live, you were as an entertainer in a way cheating, which is a ludicrous sort of argument.

ART GARFUNKEL: Yes, and that would be typical of how things have changed now - all kinds of good records fit that category. I love this record that came out this past summer by 10 CC "I'm Not In Love". That's a real sound record.

INTERVIEWER: Absolutely beautiful. Although they do claim that they can do it on stage. I have not yet heard them do it. Alright, let's have your next choice.

ART GARFUNKEL: I wanted to do a Joni Mitchell song, I put that in this mythical album of twelve songs because Joni is so talented and my favorite comes from her Blue album "I Wish I Had a River". (editor's note: "I Wish I Had a River" is aired)

INTERVIEWER: That was the Joni Mitchell track you wanted to hear, you notice I didn't commit myself on that one (laughs). Do you enjoy performing away from record studios or is your music solely centered on the recording industry?

ART GARFUNKEL: My favorite place is the recording studio. Recently I was in Toronto with Paul, the two of us did a few songs at the Columbia convention. I must say it was a great kick to be on stage. And then again a few weeks later I sang with Nash and Crosby at one of their shows. I liked it, I haven't done it in a while. I keep thinking that it's not really my favorite territory nearly as much as the recording studio. But when I am on the stage I must say I have this feeling that this is where I belong as opposed to those people out there in their seats. I used to identify much more with the audience when I was on stage. Finally I feel it is right that I'm the one up here entertaining and their the one receiving the entertainment. I've worked many years to try and be an entertainer and I can give them something that will make them feel that money was well spent.

INTERVIEWER: Right, lets have band ten for this album.

ART GARFUNKEL: Well, that would be one of my earliest memories from I think 1954, the Penguins record of "Earth Angel". (editor's note: "Earth Angel" is aired)

INTERVIEWER: I think it was '54 actually and one we had not so very long ago. Well now, we have to include, well we don't have to, but obviously are delighted to include "Bridge Over Troubled Water". There can't be anything new to say about this album?

ART GARFUNKEL: What have we never said that's true about "Bridge Over Troubled Water"? Well of course, a lot of people always put the "s" on the end of water, which is incorrect. In fact, more people do that than don't do it. What about "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - do we know that the phrase comes from the Swan Silvertones. Paul picked the phrase from a gospel record he was playing at the time where somewhere in the background, it was a real up tempo song by the Swan Silvertones and they sing "I'll be your bridge over deep water if you trust in me" and as they snuck that line in the background Paul said, "there's a title" (both laugh) and that set him going. I don't believe he has ever mentioned that. That's a hidden fact. (editor's note: "Bridge" is aired)

INTERVIEWER: Well there we are and I hope you have enjoyed hearing it again. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" without the "s" and the biggest seller of all time, let's say so shall we, why not. Do you have your immediate future planned very accurately?

ART GARFUNKEL: I have a couple of dates set for the Fall and lots of ideas. It's been a fabulous year for me, I've really been enjoying my life more than ever. I was thinking of producing Stephen Bishop, he's a new song writer I found, I love to do some of his songs.

INTERVIEWER: How much have you worked as a producer in the past, even as co-producer?

ART GARFUNKEL: I've been producer on all my own records with Paul and my own stuff, I've done that. I thought you meant when have I been solely a producer and not artist. I've never done that. Except I guess, the old Paul Simon Songbook that he recorded in London many years ago, pre Sounds of Silence. I was co-producing that I suppose and that would be the only time I was not the artist and I was producing someone else.

INTERVIEWER: Let's close this album, since we don't have anymore time unfortunately. What's your final choice?

ART GARFUNKEL: My final choice is a quiet understatement, it's Randy Newman's record "Marie".

INTERVIEWER: Great to hear someone asking for Randy Newman on this particular program, I must say a tremendous artist. Art Garfunkel, thank you so much indeed. Thoroughly enjoyed talking with you. You actually found something new to say about "Bridge", wasn't that nice.

ART GARFUNKEL: It was a lot of fun Brian, thanks very much.

Garfunkel sometimes grows weary trying to escape the shadow of his friend