Art Garfunkel Page 3 ST: Was he writing about Eleanor Roosevelt? AG: Yes. The key to me was that he was chucking the song anyway, so we were free to hack it up and do whatever you want with it. ST: Then he wrote the rest of the song after the movie was released? AG: That's right. So by the time our Bookends album came out with "Mrs. Robinson" in it, a whole bunch of months later, if not a year later, now, the rest of "Mrs. Robinson" was written. ST: Do you have any memory of hearing "The Boxer" for the first time? AG: Yeah, I knew "The Boxer" was great. For one thing, it's a style that is our strong suit. Paul and Artie could sing most effectively when they were doing a Travis picking, very fluid, running-along-syllable-song like that. Whenever we did those folky, running things, the syllabication is ideal for what we had learned. We were tapping into something that went way back for us, and something we could get a blend on. So I always knew, whenever it was that kind of thing, I had a particular feel that I could do really well, and match Paul and make the whole thing ripple and articulate it just right. So just because it was in that category, I had a feeling that I could make it sound good. And the lyric is real nice. And the amount of labor in the studio was just unbelievable. That one took so many days. ST: Your harmony part on that one is a classic. Many people have learned how to sing harmony by imitating your part on that song. AG: I'm doing a bunch of different things: I'm using the classic third above Paul, an interval of a third, and then I do variations, depending on what the lyric asks. [Sings] "I am leaving, I'm leaving " Yeah. ST: Were there any instances of you commenting on the lyric of a song or making questions about the writing prior to making the record? AC: Yeah, but here's so many times, who can remember? I wrote some of the lines. Never took a writer's credit because in spirit it was really a small two percent factor. But there's some of my wanting in there. In "Punky's Dilemma, " which was written for The Graduate I wrote a verse in there [ Sings ] Wish I was an English muffin , 'bout to make the most out of a toaster, I'd ease myself down, coming up brown " Think I wrote all that stuff I wrote [sings] "I'm not talking about your pig-tails, talking 'bout your sex appeal " "Baby Driver," which is a song on the back of Bridge Over Troubled Water I wrote that ST: Didn't you have any desire to have credit? George Harrison recently said that he felt he should have received credit for lines he wrote in Lennon and Mc Cartney songs. AG: I'm surprised that he's complaining about it. It does work that way and you don't ask for credit when it's happening because in truth, in spirit, Paul's the writer. Yeah, I wrote a little of that stuff, but that's just technically true. In spirit, and in essence of the truth, it doesn't matter. So I don't know, maybe I'm being foolish for not being technical Yeah, I wrote a certain portion of the things ST:Simon said you wrote the flute solo on "The Boxer" AG: I wrote a lot of those kinds of things. If you're talking not about the song but the arrangement; now I wrote more than two percent. I wrote a lot of the parts that musicians played, solo and stuff. ST: Do you recall what made those huge crashes in "The Boxer" ? I once heard but it was you and Paul dropping drumsticks on a hardwood floor. AG: [ Sings ] "Lie la lie", crash ! That's Roy's sound effect, which became very much an effect that was used a lot in the seventies and the eighties. I became real popular. We used to call it "the door closing sound". Roy knows about that. It was some trick he did engineering-wise. We dropped the drumsticks on "Cecelia," which is, if you remember, very treble-y and ticky-tacky and tinker-toys. One of the things that gives that effect is Paul and I, each with about twelve drumsticks, dropping them rather quickly on a parquet wooden floor and then quickly picking them up, bunching them up in our hands and dropping them again. Like twice per second. [ Laughs ] Like, seriously, dropping and picking, dropping, picking! And we got that down in rhythm. So the bunching, dropping sound, is very woody, ticky-tacky sounding, and runs through "Cecelia". ST: One thing that Simon told me that was hard to believe was that when he first played you "Bridge Over Troubled Water" that you didn't want to sing it, that you thought he should sing it. AG: Uh huh, that's right, I thought he should sing it. He sounded real good on it. It was too high for him, so he went into falsetto on the high parts, and he has a really nice flutey falsetto. So I commented on that when he first played it for me, that he had a really nice falsetto and he sounded good up there. If you want to know the truth, that was one of about six billion generous things I tried to say to Paul. I call that simply in the category of a relaxed generosity of creative cooperation. I'm amazed that we're talking about this twenty years later to this day as if there's a thing or a story, or. When you say that you're shocked, I go, "What are we talking about? Are you shocked that somebody says something that is relaxed and generous to another? Where's the story there?" ST: I think he felt that it was his best melody to date and that only you could do it justice. AG: People do very good work when they write in the spirit of a gift. He did write it for me, and because there was a gift- giving attitude in the writing, I think he wrote a little better than he usually writes. And he writes pretty good, usually. "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her" is a very romantic ballad and the fact that it was written for me, I don't know, it brought something else out in his writing. ST: When you first heard "Bridge, " did you consider it to be one of his greatest melodies? AG: Yeah. ST: Was it your idea to hold off the production until the third verse, to make that final verse so huge? AG: Yes. Now, I wrote a bunch of chords that make up "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The fact that the verses end with a piano part that elaborates the ending and all those chords that give it a turn-around that set up to the next verse. I wrote that stuff with Larry Knechtel on piano. Larry was the player. And I just heard something in my head; this is a producer's moment when you start hearing what the record wants to be, and now you strain toward the musicians: "Give me something, no, it should be a few extra chords, no, give me a different set-up chord, no, that's the wrong chord; something with a more seventh feel. Denser. There, that's the chord. Now it should go from that chord to like a ninth. Tilt it just a little." And I remember doing that kind of writing with Larry and a whole bunch of the chords that ended the verses came out of our work. The song used to only have two verses and that's what Paul wrote. But we knew that these two verses were working beautifully and what we had was not a gem of a record but an almost big record. It wanted to have another verse and the other verse wanted to open up and pull out all the stops, as if the song that Paul wrote is really a set-up for the final verse, which is really something else again. So, I guess that was my contribution. ST: To this day I can recall so clearly where I was and how I felt when I first heard the song. There was a quality in your voice that was so emotional and so beyond anything else we had heard. Did it feel that way to you as well? AG: Well, the listener gets to hear the whole record from beginning to end in one shot. The maker fusses over it so much that you have to have the concept of the whole record in your head. And as I was just saying before, the concept of the last verse would be a surprise augmentation of power. And a considerable augmentation. That concept moved me and so I knew that the vision was wonderful. And when I recorded it, the fun was to do that last verse first as a vocalist. So peaking out on that last verse was fantastic, knowing where you'd come from and that you'd set it up with two quiet verses. Yeah, I had a great, spiritual time. A pole-vault. You know? You've only done seventeen-foot-six but suddenly you're pole- vaulting thirty-four-feet-nine! And when you're way up there, it's a great life experience. The second verse was a lot of fun. I knew how to do that. See, once the third verse is done, now you're going back to do the second verse and you know you haven't released it yet, the world doesn't know it yet. It's all saved up. It's a lot of fun. It helps you do your work to have something so neat up your sleeve. ST: Did you record that song in L.A. ? AG: The last verse was done in L.A.; the first two verses were done in New York. ST. Do you think that had any effect on it, recording it on two coasts? AG: No. ST: You said that after the release of "The Dangling Conversation , " you realized you couldn't put out a ballad as a single. Were you surprised that "Bridge" became such a huge hit? AG: I thought it was a very strong five-minute tune and record and cut on an album. Real strong. So I had no false modesty that it came out real good. But I thought it was an album cut. It took Clive Davis to say, "I think it's your first single for this album," for us to say, "Really? A five-minute single?" Clive Davis, president of CBS at that point, said, "Yes. Go for it. I hear it. " It is real soft. When you hear it on the radio in the context of other records, it's an awfully soft, slow, first verse. It takes a while before it proves that it sounds like a single. ST: It sounded so unlike anything else at the time both the comforting sound of your voice and the healing message of the lyric. Then "Let It Be" was released soon thereafter which had a similar tone - AG: We thought "Let It Be" was very similar. How did they hear what we were doing? ST: McCartney did say, years later, that he heard "Bridge" and wanted to write a song like that - AG: I see! How interesting. I never knew that. One day Paul [Simon] came in the studio, and I had done the first verse. And I had, [sings] "When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all. . ." He said, "Where's the octave leap?" Meaning, "Where's the 'I'll dry them all. . [sings up an octave as on the record]' " You know, you jump up an octave, because it wasn't working and I just dispensed with it. "Paul said, [In a high-pitched, upset voice] What a minute! You can't take the writer's notes and just dispense with them. I wrote that note. I'm the writer and that's what I wrote!" [In a calm, soft voice. ] "All right, Paul, I'll go out there and put the note in. " [Laughs] I thought that was funny. ST: Were there many disagreements over directions you should take? AG: Oh, there were a lot of points of view. But, I don't know, that's what makes things good. To be unafraid of calling it as your ears hear it, is to have truth and authority and identity and commitment and ears. Now, of course, it's going to differ with the other all over the place, and the rest is can you be mature and not a pain in the ass about working out different ideas? See, you get a lot of mileage when you yield. Everytime you say, "I don't hear it that way but let it be your way," you create an emotional catharsis. And that's one of the most valuable tools you're dealing with in the studio. To yield is to create, in many ways. I've never heard anybody say this theory but if you know what I'm saying, there's a real truth in there. So it's mix and match. Hold your line when you really feel something you're saying is wonderful and you really want to get this point across and prove it to your partner by just throwing it into the tape and letting it speak for itself. At times; And then at other times you go, it's a little arbitrary. I hear this but he hears that. Let me see if I can create the rush of cooperation by letting it be his way. So I'd play that game a lot. ST: You yielded on that octave jump in "Bridge. " In retrospect, do you think that it was a good idea? AG: Yes, although it's somewhat arbitrary. It was a good idea but I don't think it would matter, particularly, if it wasn't there. ST: On that same album, there are two songs that Simon wrote to you, as opposed to for you, "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" and "The Only Living Boy In New York. " AG: That's right. That is correct. ST: he wrote those after you went to Mexico to work on Catch- . When you went there, did you have any feeling that it might break up the team? AG: No, there wasn't at all on my part. And at first there wasn't on Paul's part. I went off to Catch-22 thinking I'd be gone two months, possibly three at the most. Because I had a small cameo role in the movie, and that's the maximum it should take. Usually those kind of things can be done in three weeks. So I was gone, at first, for what I thought was just a little interruption. See, our way of working was for Paul to write while we recorded. So we'd be in the studio for the better part of two months working on the three or four songs that Paul had written, recording them, and when they were done, we'd knock off for a couple of months while Paul was working on the next group of three or four songs. Then we'd book time and be in the studio again for three or four months, recording those. So my thought was, rather than wait for Paul to write the next bunch of songs, I went off and did this movie. When Paul's songs were ready, he was ready to be in the studio before I was finished with Catch-22. And here, Mike [Nichols] held me in Mexico for like four and a half, five months. And I should have really said to him, "You don't need me this long. I've got work in New York. You know? Call Paul Simon. Call Roy. What am I doing down here?" I should have said that. But I was many miles away. And you don't realize what you're missing when you're out there. The fact that it turned out to be that many months was frustrating. And that's probably what meant to Paul that it's going to be tough to continue this way. ST: Was it ever your attention to pursue acting as much as music? AG: No, not at all. No. I thought... Here's what it was about When we were making Bridge Over Troubled Water, and I forget how much of it had been already recorded when I went to Mexico. Maybe two thirds of the album was done. When I went to Mexico, the feeling was that we weren't having a good time. We weren't enjoying ourselves. We were tired of working together. We wanted a break from each other. We were not getting along particularly well and there were a lot of conflicts that were unpleasant conflicts. They all took the form of music and what kind of record are you making but whereas in the past, differences of musical ideas, it was pleasant enough to work them out and get the maximum result. Here, on Bridge Over Troubled Water, it was not particularly pleasant at all. I remember thinking, "When this record's over, I want to rest from Paul Simon." And I would swear that he was feeling the same thing, like "I don't want to know from Artie for a year or so." We've toured together, we've done so many things together for a whole bunch of years, we've had a great run in front of the world, let us privately now renew ourselves and get a reappreciation of the other one by cooling it for a while. So my feeling was, "Sure Paul agrees that when this album is over, we don't want to work together for a while. I'm sure he agrees. If he doesn't, he's crazy. This is not fun." Oddly enough, the results were coming out fine on tape. Because when you put on the earphones and go to work, I guess your commitment to art is greater than your lack of commitment to each other. So you always get responsible and serious toward doing your best work from the heart with all the beauty you have within you when it's tape time. So I went off to Guaymas thinking, "This is the right thing to do, this is fine. For Art Garfunkel to be a little bit of a movie actor in addition to my role in Simon & Garfunkel is very nice for the identity of the group. " After all, Paul plays the guitar on stage; Arthur just has his hands. Paul writes all the songs. So it beefs up my side of the group. I thought it was excellent. It's almost as if George Harrison suddenly did an acting role to balance out the McCartney- Lennon contribution. My sense of show-business told me it was the perfect balance. And I thought I was going to help give my side of the group a little more interest to the public, and I'd be bringing it back to the duo after we had our rest from each other, and we'd go on and make more albums. I was in love with Simon & Garfunkel. I thought we were a neat act. I didn't want to tip that over, I just wanted to take a rest from it. And here, with the help of Mike's offer, I wanted to enrich my side of the group with this acting role. Well, Paul couldn't abide by these things. They were evidently threatening. So, in his mind, waiting for Artie is something he couldn't do. Now, I was waiting for Paul to write the tunes all the time, before we'd go in the studio. ST: When you heard "The Only Living Boy In New York" or "Frank Lloyd Wright, " how did they strike you? AG: "Only Living Boy" has a very tender thing about it. There's something really musical and from the heart about that song. I don't know what it is, but it's indescribably sweet. The attitude of the lyric. "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" is another kind of song. The chords don't have quite that emotionalism. It's more about cleverness. I think I go to the chords first to give you the answer, because chords are feelings, and that's where the answer lies. ST: I always thought the beginning of 'Only Living Boy' was so touching, the way he refers to you as Tom, the name from your first childhood team. AG: It's sweet. "I get the news I need from the weather report" That's Paul saying, "How's it going down there in Guaymas?" I have a letter he wrote in those days that was really affectionate. You can see they missed me. I blew it by letting Mike Nichols hold me down there for so many months. That was a mistake on his part. ST: Those are two of his most moving songs, and they were both written to you --- AG: There's a lot of depth of feeling between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel mutually. A lot of depth of feeling. Our lives are amazingly intertwined. You don't know the beginning of it. It's extraordinary the way these two lives wrap around each other. ST: Your first solo album was called Angel Clare. Was that recorded in Grace cathedral? AG: One of the tunes was. The Bach chorale was done in that cathedral in San Francisco. We had done that before. Paul and I had gone to a church on "The Boxer" to get the high ceiling stone sound. The "lie la " were done there. [ ... ] ST: I thought it was interesting in the 1981 Simon & Garfunkel tour the way you added new harmonies to some of Simon's solo work. I especially loved your part for "American Tune. " AG: Me, too. Well, I had a great feeling for that song. I had shown Paul the Bach chorale that is the basis of that song. Then we split up. Then Paul wrote "American Tune. " And I knew that was the kind of song that was very Simon & Garfunkel. Had we not split up, that would have been a "Bridge Over Troubled Water." I had a lot of fun writing that part because it had so much feel. I felt like I was partially the midwife that gave birth to that song. ST: Do you have a favorite Simon & Garfunkel song? AG: The most organic thing we ever did is not even a Paul Simon song. It's "Scarborough Fair." It's a traditional song. That's he flowingest, most organic thing I think we ever did. As far as the favorite record we made, I would probably agree with the world. "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Because the vision and the scale of the record is so damn big, and I thought we mostly succeeded in filling out that vision. So the bigness impressed me. To have delusions of grandeur is usually a neurotic problem , but to fulfill the illusion of grandeur and make it... grander [laughs], was a lot of fun. [ ... ] We human beings are tuned such that we crave great melody and great lyrics. And if somebody writes a great song, it's timeless that we as humans are going to feel something for that and there's going to be a real appreciation. So I keep looking for the great songs thinking that I can do it. And I will do it. I can top Bridge Over Troubled Water. You know, that's a wonderful record that's real grandiose in its production and it's a first-rate song, but there are other first- rate songs and I can sing as good as that if not better now. So I'm going, for the rest of my life, to want to top that, knowing I can do it.