Art Garfunkel Looks Back At 1968, 'Bookends' And 'The Graduate'
By Henry Santoro and Marilyn Schairer
Art Garfunkel, the singer and songwriter best known as half of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, will perform in Boston Dec. 17 and 18. In advance of his upcoming appearance, he spoke with WGBH Radio Host Henry Santoro about his writing, his favorite Simon & Garfunkel albums and the turbulence of 1968. The transcript below has been edited for clarity
Henry Santoro: Art, you're a voracious reader. You're a man who loves to walk. You're a lifelong New Yorker. How did it come to be that you have cataloged every book you have ever read since 1968?
Art Garfunkel: Here's how I see it. If you're going to read a book and you've finished the book, why don't other people write down the name of the book they read? And if they did, month after month, year in and year out, they would get up to 1,280-something, which is where I'm at now.
Santoro: What type of writing do you gravitate towards?
Garfunkel: Good writers. What do I mean by a good writer? Well, you know it when you read it.
Santoro: That's true. You work reading into your live shows. You read passages from your autobiography.
Garfunkel: Yeah, well, I became a writer somewhere in the last few years. I began to have confidence and belief into the notebook I was keeping in my back pocket, which had these constant prose, poem, bits, I would call them bits. I would keep making these little illuminated moments come alive with a rhythm and an inner rhyme. And I collected them over 30 years.
Santoro: Let's go back for a moment, if we can, to 1968 — 50 years ago this year, Art. Turbulent times, to say the least. And then you and Paul Simon show up with not one, but two, number one albums. One was the soundtrack to "The Graduate." The other was "Bookends." What are your thoughts on that now, 50 years later?
Garfunkel: Relaxed about my tight commercial interest 50 years ago. Henry, you might be surprised to see how much I cared to follow this new budding Simon & Garfunkel career with love and smarts, and to have the soundtrack to "The Graduate," in those days, felt very much in the way. We felt, both of us, we don't want a soundtrack album. You can't have Scarborough Fair played on a flute and a recorder. No, that's an adulterated version.
Santoro: That's true.
Garfunkel: So, I was anti-the whole damn album.
Santoro: But what did you think of the movie?
Garfunkel: The movie was a wonderful delight. Did you like it?
Santoro: I loved it. And I loved the soundtrack. But I liked "Bookends" even more.<>
Garfunkel: Oh, I love the "Bookends" album. I didn't want the soundtrack of "The Graduate" to get in the way. To me, "Bookends" is the next Simon and Garfunkel album, you see?
Santoro: So here we are, some would argue back into turbulent times, 50 years later. Are you politically active these days?
Garfunkel: It's a tease of a question, because you could almost say, 'Go crazy, Art. Wail. Take it, Art.' The age we live in now, is it mostly, more than anything else, is it colorful? Does it have a leader who is a reality TV star, who is turning real life into some show by instinct? Is that this summary description? I stay out of it and don’t touch any of this stuff when I perform, because I feel the realities go on behind closed doors, and that we're kind of innocent of what's really happening.
Henry: Well, we have loved you all these years.
Garfunkel: It's been mutual.
Santoro: On behalf of the entire city of Boston, I want to thank you for the years of great music that you have given us.
Garfunkel: What a nice thing to hear, it completes the circle, Henry.