The career of Art Garfunkel will be collected in a new 2-CD retrospective, The Singer, due on April 10 from Columbia/Legacy.
The album contains forty songs from throughout Art's career from the first Simon & Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. through his 2007 set Some Enchanted Evening. No material from Simon & Garfunkel's early group, Tom & Jerry, is included.
As Garfunkel explained the essence of his artistry to Esquire, "We didn't push for exaggerating one's contribution... There are many songs where I am a shadow. Many songs, I was a silvery edge around Paul Simon's coffee-brown lead front part. As the record emerged, you go, "That's what it is. Those are the two personalities. That's what's happening." And the sound is lovely as long as the composite works."
In addition to curating The Singer, Garfunkel provides his own personal track-by-track annotations, which appear in the booklet in his handwritten form. The notes are as unique as Garfunkel himself. He writes of Cecilia, the Simon & Garfunkel hit single from 1970: "'Car!' we called in Queens. Then we stopped the game and stepped aside. I grew up where the brick houses were semi-attached with driveways in between. Punchball was king. Somehow the yelling we did as street kids found its way to Cecilia. We shouted the song over a track we made from a tape loop of rhythmic hand clapping onto our blue jeans."
The weaving of songs from the Simon & Garfunkel repertoire with songs from Art Garfunkel's repertoire as a solo artist is one of the hallmarks of The Singer, as the collection takes on a timeless air, moving back and forth through time in a seamless pattern.
The life and times of Art Garfunkel course throughout The Singer, especially felt in the reverence for songs that make up the American pop vernacular. Two of Garfunkel's signature performances hit #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary (AC) chart: I Only Have Eyes For You (a 1930s tune that became a hit for the Flamingos in 1959, revisited by Garfunkel on 1975's Breakaway LP, the song also hit #1 in the UK); and Sam Cooke's (What A) Wonderful World (from 1978's Watermark), in which Garfunkel was famously joined by Simon and James Taylor.
Garfunkel's roster of #1 AC hits also includes All I Know (his debut single as a solo artist in 1973, a Jimmy Webb composition); the 1975 reunion duet with Simon on My Little Town (premiered on the second show of NBC's Saturday Night Live); and Breakaway (written by England's Gallagher & Lyle, one of the three consecutive #1 AC hits from the Breakaway LP, along with I Only Have Eyes For You and My Little Town).
In addition to all the aforementioned, The Singer contains many more examples of Garfunkel's unerring way with pop tunes from our collective past: Barbara Allen (the folk ballad popularized by Joan Baez); Disney Girls (from the Beach Boys' Surf's Up); I Wonder Why (via Dion & the Belmonts); When A Man Loves A Woman (Percy Sledge); Cryin' In The Rain (a duet with James Taylor, via the Everly Brothers, an early Carole King-Howie Greenfield composition); and Two Sleepy People, the 1930s Hoagy Carmichael-Frank Loesser chestnut that captivated a new generation in 1955 when it was sung by James Dean and Natalie Wood in Rebel Without A Cause.
Finally, The Singer continues to underscore Garfunkel's near-lifelong association with the music of composer Jimmy Webb. After recording 1978's Watermark with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, which contained 10 Webb compositions, Garfunkel said in his understated manner, "I like the idea of inviting people to consider this man... Jimmy Webb." The Singer contains some rarely anthologized Webb tunes recorded over the years by his friend: Scissors Cut, In Cars, and All I Know.
"Never mind the transience of show business and popularity," Garfunkel told Esquire. "When we hear Ray Charles, we go, 'That's a great singer.' You don't need a reporter or a writer to tell us. Good is good and it should shine through the years."
Bridge Over Troubled Water (Bridge Over Troubled Water, 1970)
All I Know with Jimmy Webb (Up 'Til Now, 1993)
Perfect Moment with Buddy Mondlock & Maia Sharp (Everything Waits To Be Noticed, 2002)
Scarborough Fair/Canticle (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme, 1966)
Cryin' In The Rain with James Taylor (Up 'Til Now, 1993)
I Only Have Eyes For You with Nicky Hopkins (Breakaway, 1975)
The Boxer (Bridge Over Troubled Water, 1970)
Cecilia (Bridge Over Troubled Water, 1970)
99 Miles From L.A. (Breakaway, 1975)
Wednesday Morning 3AM (Simon & Garfunkel Live From NYC, 1967) (2002)
(What A) Wonderful World with James Taylor and Paul Simon (Watermark, 1978)
Bright Eyes (Fate For Breakfast, UK, 1979)
Two Sleepy People, arranged by Dick Hyman (Up 'Til Now, 1993)
Skywriter (Up 'Til Now, 1993)
My Little Town (Breakaway, 1975)
For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her (Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits, 1972)
Some Enchanted Evening (Some Enchanted Evening, 2007)
Disney Girls with Bruce Johnston and Toni Tenille (Breakaway, 1975)
The Thread with Maia Sharp and Buddy Mondlock (Everything Waits To Be Noticed, 2002)
Barbara Allen (Angel Clare, 1973)
Kathy's Song (Simon & Garfunkel – Old Friends: Live On Stage, 2004)
Scissors Cut (Scissors Cut, 1981)
The Sound Of Silence (Wednesday Morning, 3AM, 1964)
Breakaway with Graham Nash and David Crosby (Breakaway, 1975)
So Long Frank Lloyd Wright (Bridge Over Troubled Water, 1970)
Waters Of March with Billy Payne (Breakaway, 1975)
Old Friends / Bookends (Bookends, 1968)
The Decree (The Animals' Christmas, 1986)
A Hazy Shade Of Winter (Bookends, 1968)
El Condor Pasa (Bridge Over Troubled Water, 1970)
I Wonder Why with Kenny Rankin (Lefty, 1988)
The Promise with Steve Gadd (Lefty, 1988)
I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face (Some Enchanted Evening, 2007)
When A Man Loves A Woman with Michael Brecker (Lefty, 1988)
O Come All Ye Faithful with Eric Weissberg (Acoustic Christmas, 1990)
April Come She Will (Sounds Of Silence, 1965)
Mrs. Robinson (Bookends, 1968)
A Heart In New York with Michael Brecker (Scissors Cut, 1981)
Song For The Asking (Simon & Garfunkel Live 1969, 2008)
In Cars (Scissors Cut, 1981)