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Monday, November 6, 2017

Writing songs for the times

“We human beings are tuned such that we crave great melody and great lyrics. And if somebody writes a great song . . . we as humans are going to feel something for that and there's going to be a real appreciation.” – Art Garfunkel

Garfunkel, who turned 76 yesterday, not only has written some great lyrics and wonderful melodies – particularly as part of the groundbreaking duo Simon & Garfunkel – but he also has written the new book What Is It All But Luminous (Notes From an Underground Man).

Just out, it is a terrific view of the folk-rock music age in which he and Paul Simon grew up and embraced, and a study of the music world they helped define through their sound.  I was fully reminded of their impact again during the recent airing of the PBS series on Vietnam when their song Sounds of Silence played in the background during a poignant episode.

Sounds of Silence established their sound, but perhaps their most lasting and moving song was Bridge Over Troubled Water, also the title of their massive best-selling album.  The song placed Garfunkel squarely at the center stage during the duo’s performances, although he said he has never been comfortable in that role.

“Paul has more, I think, of a feel for the stage. Whereas I have it more for the notes themselves. I love record making and mixing, arranging, producing. That I love.  I love to make beautiful things, but I don't like to perform.”   Fortunately for all of us, he did.

From Simon & Garfunkel’s 1981’s groundbreaking concert in New York City’s Central Park, here is Garfunkel at center state,  performing Bridge Over Troubled Water

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