By Deborah Wilker
When you possess one of the most recognizable voices in all of pop music, what happens when it deserts you?
“You fall to your knees,” says Art Garfunkel, the six-time Grammy-winner and one half of the iconic ’60s duo Simon & Garfunkel. “You say, oh Lord I’m not really prepared to accept that – and you weep.”
It was just over three years ago when a vocal cord stiffened, sending Garfunkel to the sidelines. Solo concerts and another reunion tour with Paul Simon were canceled. Would fans ever again hear his angelic vocals on classics such as The Boxer, Mrs. Robinson and Bridge Over Troubled Water?
Please, no Sound of Silence jokes. For Garfunkel, the notion that he was done performing, was agony.
“I’m a lifetime singer – it means everything to me. I went through a dark passage getting it back,” he said of the small shows he booked while restoring his health. “And – I have this reputation. It was nerve-wracking to mend in public.”
No doubt, iconic status can complicate things. For the most part though, Garfunkel says he leads a fairly ordinary life on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. At 72, he’s long married and a father of two sons, ages 23 and 8. When those classic S&G hits pop up on the radio or while he’s grocery shopping, he simply smiles.
“It’s a private experience – and a mild feeling of delight,” he said during a recent phone interview to discuss two upcoming South Florida concerts. “I can’t be larger than life. I’m still a guy who’s waiting for his dry cleaning.”
Though the official 1970 break-up of Simon & Garfunkel was acrimonious, the duo has reunited onstage every decade since – and likely will again.
“We both know that that lovely option is there. It is a joy of my life that these achievements we did on record so many years ago, have lasting power. I never expected that.”
But no, he and Simon – grade-school chums who began making music as teens – aren’t “pals” today.
“I don’t exactly pick up the phone and talk to my old friend Paul – even though he’s my favorite laugh. To this day, we both make each other laugh. But it’s almost like the octane is too rich.
“So no he’s not my buddy. You pick up the phone only when you’re ready with your A-material when you call Paul Simon.”
Art Garfunkel, Feb. 21 at the Broward Center’s Amaturo Theater, browardcenter.org/online; and March 1 at the Borland Center for the Performing Arts, Palm Beach Gardens, theborlandcenter.org. Audience Q & A to follow both shows.