Leah Rae — Listening Room contributor
Paul Simon is on tour and Art Garfunkel hasn’t been heard from in two years, WFUV disc jockey Pete Fornatale said – quite in passing – during a presentation about the duo Sunday night at Irvington Town Hall Theater.
So it was all the more surprising when Garfunkel himself stepped onstage at the end of Fornatale’s presentation. Garfunkel was joined on stage by musician Larry Campbell.
Humbly thanking the audience for listening as he tries to get his voice back, Garfunkel sang a few songs and answered questions from a delighted audience. The crowd had come for a free film series event titled “How Strange to be 70,” a reference to a song lyric and to the fact that both Simon and Garfunkel reached that milestone this fall.
”See, it’s a little fragile,” Garfunkel told the audience in an aside during his song “Perfect Moment.” He said later that his voice felt truest when he sang that song, though his vocal chords are recovering at the moment. “It really fits, from syllable to syllable,” he said.
Fornatale, author of “Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends” about the relationship between the two musicians, presented a series of videos and told the story of a collaboration that began in junior high. Simon’s song “Old Friends” contains the line, “Can you imagine us years from today sharing a park bench quietly? How terribly strange to be 70.”
He appeared as part of the Irvington Town Hall Theater Best of Film Series. Garfunkel answered questions after singing “Scarborough Fair,” “Kathy’s Song” and “Sounds of Silence.”
“Since we rehearsed when we were in Queens, age of 12 when we first knew each other, we’ve got our two-part harmony down tight, and it’s a lot of fun to make that tight, blendy sound,” he said. He described the pleasure of singing with Simon’s guitar rhythms.
Lately Garfunkel has been playing with a four-piece band, but he said, “I want to get back into my touring gear, with or without Paul.”
One of his fans was a teen-age boy who came up to ask Garfunkel how to find inspiration during writer’s block.
“Aim for a tiny bit and see whether that leads to the next tiny bit,” he said. “Try and write a line this week, a line. Then spend a week wondering: Where does that line want to go? What flows out of that?”
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