Garfunkel Walks His Own Road

November 9 , 2000
Jewish Exponent

At 58, Art Garfunkel is a bit old to be a Backstreet Boy . But the making of his new album has taken the singer, actor, and writer to Orlando, Fla., where he's worked with a number of the people who have crafted sounds for the Boys and for fellow teen pop heroes 'N Sync and Britney Spears .

"It's a whole beehive of different people — producers, writers, arrangers, vocal harmonists, and choreographers," says Garfunkel, who lives in New York City with his wife, Kim, and their son, James, who's in the third grade. "You don't want to talk too much when you just start something, but I will say this: It's very young-sounding. It's aggressive. It's very different from what I usually do. It accepts today's record-making process. It's got a lot of synthesizers in it. It's coming out nice. I'm excited."

That said, Garfunkel adds that he's not trying to re-invent himself as the teen hero he was in 1957, when he and boyhood friend Paul Simon had a hit — under the moniker "Tom and Jerry" — with "Hey Schoolgirl."

"I'm working with a lot of the same people that [the Backstreet Boys] work with because a great hook is a great hook," he explains. "Rock and roll hasn't really changed that much through the years. A chorus that really is catchy and memorable is just what it always was. And a record that swings and a rhythm that gets you out of your chair is essentially what rock and roll is and has always been."

Garfunkel hopes to have the album finished and on shelves before the end of the year, but he has other projects on his plate as well. He calls touring his "main activity" since re-connecting with live performing during the '90s. He says he'd also like to revive his acting career, which has included roles in Catch 22 and Carnal Knowledge. Ideally, he says, he'd like to play "a nice guy."

On top of that, Garfunkel, who recently finished an incremental walk across America, has now started a >walk across Europe. He says he's completed three legs, hiking through the United Kingdom. The greatest difference between the continents, he says, is that cab drivers in Europe are much more cooperative in arranging pick-ups at the end of each day's journey.

"In America, if you pre-arrange something with a taxi, it won't work," Garfunkel says. "They're not free and trusting enough to do that. You feel like you're talking to somebody who doesn't care to work it out. In Europe, there's much more of a human connection. When I would say, 'Can you pick me up?' it was, 'Absolutely. Where will you be?' 'I'll be either here or there.' 'Well, give me a map. Let's work on it.' They sort of get down and get human about the whole thing."

About the only thing Garfunkel isn't planning is future work with Simon; their relationship has remained tenuous since their acrimonious split as a duo during 1971. "I don't see too much of Paul; I'm busy with my agenda, and so is he," Garfunkel says, adding that he finds the topic "boring. You don't talk about an old marriage."