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Art Garfunkel takes on Jaffa, in kippah

Going to see Art Garfunkel last Wednesday night was a rare opportunity to see a landsman from a long ago past.
33 Art Garfunkel performs on stage at the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv, on June 10, 2015.. (photo credit:GIL COHEN MAGEN / AFP)

If you’re in your 60s, you probably don’t frequent live music concerts as much as you once did. Who has the koach?

But going to see Art Garfunkel last Wednesday night was a rare opportunity: he hadn’t played here in 32 years, and it was nice to see a landsman from a long ago past.

It wasn’t so much a must-see as it was a nostalgia trip. If you were 12 years old growing up in New York, Art and his boyhood pal Paul were the neighborhood stars from Forest Hills High School who made it big.

Garfunkel was the voice that was famous first, already a legend in Queens when he was just 12 years old himself. “They could have sold tickets to his Bar Mitzvah,” Paul once said.

He walked onstage slowly at 9:35 p.m, wearing a large white kippah and singing a prayer. He opened with “The Boxer,” and you couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. His music was the quiet soundtrack of our growing up. When he followed with “April Come She Will,” you remembered the name of the girl who went with the song.

Then Art started to talk, sharing with us passages from the autobiography he has contracted to write. He recounted his life’s rich journey in personal prose bordering on poetry: musings on both of his sons, his relationship with Paul, his mortality, a performance at the Royal Albert Hall, and having a room on a high floor at the Hampshire House Hotel looking out on Central Park, king of the world at 26.

If Dylan is famous for not talking at all during a concert, Garfunkel will be remembered as one who talked almost more than he sang. Which was fine, if you wanted to hear about a man at peace with himself – mellow and grateful for what he has and proud for what he has achieved: A Hall of Fame career as a talented artist with one top 10 hit, three top 20 hits, six top 40 hits, and six Grammy’s, according to Wikipedia. And that’s just as a solo artist.

So all that was fine, if you wanted to hear about his personal life. If you didn’t, it came off as self-indulgent.

Indeed, his eight topics of personal philosophy and musings were read off of envelopes, as if he were delivering the Gettysburg Address.

But Art the singer – ahh, that was a different story.

He sang a lot of hits, 19 in all, including “April Come She Will,” “Poem on the Underground Wall,” “Scarborough Fair,” “Homeward Bound,” “Bright Eyes,” “For Emily,” “Sound of Silence,” and what he called the personal favorite, “Cathy’s Song.” This was a refined performance by a 73- year-old veteran, but alas, it was not the same.

Don’t get me wrong, the music was very good, as far as it went. But it didn’t go as far as it once did, and with good reason: he only recently recovered his voice that was gone for four years – a devastating loss for someone whose identity has always been about that voice; and although he worked hard to recover what he once had – and it’s a miracle that he can sing again – it’s still thin.


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