If the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts came with a user manual, part of the instructions would include a directive to close your eyes for 15 to 20% of the performance you are about to experience.
In the case of last night’s Art Garfunkel’s concert, I aimed for about 20%, which not only let me experience the incredible acoustics of the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater at the Tobin, but took me back in time almost 50 years through his music – and of course the music of Simon and Garfunkel.
The music of Simon and Garfunkel not only defined a unique style and sound, but many of their songs were a mirror of our state of consciousness and, in some cases, became the anthems of our day.
Sitting among a crowd of 249 fans, I felt like we were in a coffeehouse somewhere in Greenwich Village, looking back and rediscovering ourselves. In fact, when I wrote the final draft of this story earlier this morning, I went over to Local Coffee on Broadway and listened to Garfunkel’s music on Spotify.
Garfunkel also performed on Thursday night and played the identical set list on Friday night. Singing Simon & Garfunkel songs including “April Come She Will,” “The Boxer,” “Homeward Bound,” “Kathy’s Song,” and “Sounds of Silence,” I had to stop and remind myself that this musical duo broke up in 1970, even though they have performed together over the years for special events and concerts. He performed several covers, including “A Real Emotional Girl,” by Randy Newman and “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars),” by Antonio Carlos Jobim, as well as his own work, including “Perfect Moment” and “All I Know.”
“It was my mother who introduced me to the music of Simon and Garfunkel. As a special birthday gift to my mom, I took her to the Art Garfunkel concert at the Tobin,” Duplantis said.
During my own concert experience, memories came back to me of being a teenager trying to figure out life; being a student at Antioch College, which stood for every anti-everything movement on the planet; graduating into the real the world of work life; experiencing love, heartbreak, the ups and downs of life’s journey; and watching my own children discover, listen to, and experience what will one day be their own legacies in the context of this wonderful music.
Accompanied by guitarist Tab Laven, Garfunkel sang, read poetry from the back of multiple #10 envelopes, and shared the back story of his childhood in New York. He described learning how to chant in a synagogue in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah, his relationship with Paul Simon, and their rise to fame. Garfunkel is also the highest paid singer in the world.
Most telling, and totally unexpected, was his sharing of the struggle with the problems he had with his vocal chords, which led him into his own personal sound of silence for almost one year.
He took time off to recover and his return to the stage, in many ways, was a public statement to the world that he had healed.
He was almost like a therapist, sharing his own story of healing to the patient.
As he shared this narrative, I felt that we were all collectively experiencing a unique moment with our fellow performance attendees as we closed our eyes, looked back on our own life’s struggles, our moments of pain, periods of silence, and the joys and triumphs of healing.
Note: There’s a really good interview with Art Garfunkel here on Grammy.com which gives more detail into his life history, his challenges with his voice, and how he healed.
*Featured image: Art Garfunkel places his hand on his heart in a recent photo published in Rolling Stone magazine. Photo by Terry Wyatt.