Monday, October 05, 2015

Art Garfunkel Keeps the Customers Satisfied at Carnegie Hall

Had a once-in-lifetime experience Saturday night when my two older brothers came up from Washington to go to Carnegie Hall with me to see Art Garfunkel, an artist whose work -- with and without Paul Simon -- has equally touched the three of us more than any other. I had heard Art's voice was still on the mend following an inexplicable disappearance about four or five years ago, but was quickly relieved when he came out singing "April Come She Will" sounding a fraction of his nearly 74 years. From there, the setlist can only be viewed as a classic case of not being able to please everyone because he not only chose Simon and Garfunkel material over his solo catalogue, he also chose covers, and Simon-sung S&G songs over his solo material. While we were hardly complaining hearing him perform "Kathy's Song," "Homeward Bound" and Everly Brothers classics, it was a tad disappointment that he skipped "Second Avenue," considered by many to be his solo masterpiece, and performed only one ("All I Know") written by Jimmy Webb, with whom he has recorded countless classics. (Listen to "Watermark" if you haven't.) 

The evening was a family affair on both sides of the stage: For me, with my two brothers by my side, who had recently come up to see Gordon Lightfoot as well -- and for Art, whose two sons appeared on-stage (10-year-old Beau introduced his dad and 24-year-old Arthur Jr. (aka James) playing Don to his father's Phil on the two Everly Brothers songs. Although Art seemed to be pacing himself to conserve his voice -- reading occasionally cringe-worthy scribbles on business envelopes, some of which seems to be for a memoir he just inked a deal to write -- he did offer some interesting anecdotes between songs, including paying high praise to Paul Simon on several occasions. Perhaps the only misstep of the evening was allowing his son Art to also take center stage for an unnecessary solo of Charlie Chaplin's smile. Art Jr., who looks and sounds very much like his father, right down to the cue-ball head, would have been better used as a harmonizer slash backup vocalist on some of the other tracks, which found Dad and guitarist Tab Laven doing all of the heavy lifting. (One of the reasons I think "Second Avenue" didn't get performed is because there wasn't a piano in sight. I'd been warned that Art's weakened vocal cords were require "the first seven rows" to help out, but with the exception of the "lie-la-lie" part of "The Boxer," it wasn't necessary.) But these are just minor quibbles about a night that I wasn't sure I'd ever get to see, one my brothers and I will surely be talking about for decades to come. 

First Set
April Come She Will
(Simon and Garfunkel song)
The Boxer
(Simon & Garfunkel song)
A Heart in New York / All I Know
Perfect Moment
Scarborough Fair/Canticle
(Simon & Garfunkel song)
The Side of a Hill
(Paul Simon song, whose lyrics were incorporated in Scarborough Fair)
A Poem on the Underground Wall
(Simon & Garfunkel song)

Second set
Devoted to You
(The Everly Brothers cover)
(Charlie Chaplin cover sun by Art Jr.)
Homeward Bound
(Simon & Garfunkel song)
Real Emotional Girl
(Randy Newman cover)
For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her
(Simon & Garfunkel song)
Bright Eyes
The Sound of Silence
(Simon & Garfunkel song)
Kathy's Song
(Simon & Garfunkel song)
Let It Be Me
(The Everly Brothers cover)
Bridge Over Troubled Water
(Simon & Garfunkel song)

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

If there's a room more beautiful than Carnegie Hall then I haven't seen it.


stonrdude said...

Way back in 1975, Garfunkel did a remake of an old Flamingos song, "I Only Have Eyes for You." I was really into the herb that night and it was just awesome music. It was a never forget musical experience for me. Maybe the herb reaction, maybe the passion he had performing the song, maybe the entire setting. I still listen today. Don't remember the album, maybe Breakaway.

Andrew said...

When did Art Garfunkel turn into Ed Koch?

James Dwight Williamson said...

Not sure you should regret the one song, he did not sing but rejoice in all he did!

Adam Z in the 480 said...

Back in June of this year, I attended a Garfunkel performance here in Gilbert, Arizona of all places! It was amazing to here his voice in person. Although he definitely cannot hit those high notes like he used to, his performance was still a definite treat for the ears. To hear many of his songs in person brought tears to my eyes. Unbelievably, the small 1,200 seat Higley Center for the Performing Arts was maybe only 80% filled. Hard to believe it was not a sellout crowd. Me and my partner (ages 31 & 49) felt like wee were some of the youngest people there as the show really drew in the Sun City 65+ / PBS crowd.....

hot for cleveland said...

You should see Severance Hall in Cleveland -- the most beautiful concert hall in America. Significantly more beautiful than Carnegie.

Bob K. said...

Lucky you -- and glad you could share it with your brothers! The only time I saw Art was when he sat a few rows behind me in the Coronet Theater in San Francisco during the first run of "Star Wars" -You were in grammar school then.

Corry27 said...

Kenneth: I have always been a hugh Simon and Garfunkel fan from the first hour when the "Sounds of Silence" came out in Holland. I am from this country. Please may I have the freedom to make some additions regarding what you wrote down? First of all it is a lovely review: really and hugly appreciated by me!

You are mentioning one of the biggest hits of Art starting his solo-career "Second Avenue". Indeed you`re right it is a terrific song to listen to. I have heard many concerts of Art Garfunkel during his solo-career but he - unfortunately - never performed this song in any concert as far as I know.

Nowadays Art has a terrific guitarist. His name is Tab Laven, coming from Nashville Tennessee and he is really a terrific guitarplayer by playing his Martin-guitar. The picture that is made from Art and Tab togehter is really an awesome one!

Some remarks regarding the setlist you created in this interview. I have some additional info for you regarding this list. I know this list by heart because last February Art and Tab visited Haarlem (think of Harlem in NYC: this name is coming from the Dutch occupation when they discovered this land and called it "Nieuw-Amsterdam") Holland without his two sons. For me - following Art Garfunkel from the time he lost his voice in 2010. I`ve seen him going better and btter regarding his voice. Big thanks from my part to his guitarist Tab Laven who was and is always on Art`s side.

I will made a few corrections regarding the setlist you gave in:

After performing the song"Scarborough Fair you added the following song "Canticle". In fact this is the part that has been intertwined into this song. The song has an original name :"On the side of a Hill". Paul Simon composed this song when he was in London during the early sixties and this song was performed solo by Paul and Art as well.

The second song Art Garunkel Jr. (indeed his real name is "James") is coming from Nat King Cole and it is called "Smile".

Regarding the prose and prosepoems it is what you like or not. I like Art`s way of telling stories very much being auto-biographical regarding his widened intellectual phantasy.

I love Art Garfunkel the most when he is performing "Kathy`s Song" and he does this in a very touching way reaching the heart!

I duly hope you do not reject my comments and some adjustments being a hugh Art and Tab fan. Fortunately no Paul Simon anymore although the songs he has written have become now a part of the heritage of Simon and Garfunkel sang during the sixties.

Set has been the same: during the sixties of last century only two guys with ONE guitar! And it is a great gesture from Art`s side to keep this heritage alive accompanyed by his wonderful guitarist Tab Laven! Kind regards from Holland!

When you want to lsiten back the stelist coming from Germany and Holland an a few from Niagara Falls I have a link for you. You have to sign in first before you are able to listen to this 15 songs:

Corry27 said...

Hi, I just had a look at the setlist and I saw the song "Bright Eyes". For your information: this song has been written by Mike Batt and this song was meant to become the main song for the movie after the book of Richard Adams "Watership Down". Mike Batt wrote this song; maybe you are able to remember (or Art did not tell this phenomenal at the Carnegie Hall show) that this song (brought out in 1979) was a very hugh in Europe. In the U.K. it ranked the top for a very long time.

Unfortunately for Art (and this is what he is always mentioning in his gigs) the song never became a hit in the USA! A lot of people however do like this song the most:

This song is coming from a GIG Art Garfunkel and Tab Laven held in Tel Aviv Israël on th 08.10.2015 I hope you will like it to see Art and Tab back again in a "live-video": I have many ones!

Art Garfunkel Bright Eyes Tel Aviv June 2015