When childhood friends Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon started mimicking the harmonies of the Everly Brothers in school talent shows, they had no idea they’d form one of the greatest folk music duos of all time. They eventually left their Queens, New York neighborhood to create a string of albums that would define the sound of the 1960s. Their success was due in part to Art Garfunkel’s rich voice, showcased on iconic hits such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “April Come She Will.” Garfunkel will make his first appearance in Hayes Hall at Artis—Naples on January 14 to perform Simon & Garfunkel classics and songs from his solo career. In a recent interview, he spoke about finding his voice and his most memorable moments.
NI: What was your relationship to music growing up, and when did you realize you had a killer voice?
Garfunkel: I heard singing around the house. My parents could sing and I heard it on the radio, [artists like] Nat King Cole. I realized I had a real nice voice at about five or six years old. Very early I saw that I could sound like the radio and be very smooth. I immediately went private with it. I started looking for stairwells, rooms where I could sing in private and see, “Is this really as good as I think it is?” And I would start getting goosebumps if I picked the right songs. I felt that it was a special thing that I had.
NI: If you could relive one year from your time in Simon & Garfunkel, which would it be?
Garfunkel: The year we made “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme” would be most special. We made five albums that made up our popular career, and “Parsley, Sage” is the middle one. When you’re making the third one, you’re in your stride. We were [then] realizing that an album could be as arty as you want it to be. And this was all Beatles influenced. Let’s chase after The Beatles, we were thinking. We could make our album as artful as we wanted it to be. That was a very exciting notion.
NI: When a lot of people think of Simon & Garfunkel, your historic concert in Central Park comes to mind. What do you remember most about it?
Garfunkel: I remember rehearsing in the afternoon and feeling that the buzz around town while we were rehearsing was growing rapidly. The day of the show, New York City at noon felt like something. And New York City at four in the afternoon felt like a whole lot of something else. And New York City at seven really felt exciting. You could feel the buzz around town was rapidly growing into monumental proportions.