The frizzy blond hair was still there, but the face belonged to a 65 year-old man. What was gripping though, was the same soft, angelic, tenor voice that was unmistakeably … Garfunkel. No, we didn’t buy a ticket to listen to the youthful folk singer we once knew, but what we’d purchased was an encounter, an experience, probably once in a lifetime, to see the iconic Art Garfunkel, the voice of our youthful past.
“Many a times I’ve been mistaken, and many times confused…” The haunting melody and the captivating lyrics of American Tune opened the concert. The face might have changed, yes, a great deal, but the sound remained, and along with it, the soul-searching quietness once again overcame me.
The circumstances might have changed, but the sentiments linger…”After changes and changes, we’re more or less the same…after changes, we’re more or less the same.”
What followed were the satisfaction of listening to the original voice singing the familiar tunes of Homeward Bound, Scarborough Fair, and The Boxer. What was regrettable, of course, was that we missed the harmonizing singing of the song creator, Paul Simon.
Backed by four talented band members, many of the familiar Simon and Garfunkel numbers had been re-arranged and improvisations added to make new renditions of old tunes, allowing Garfunkel to perform as a soloist. The singer had stepped aside many times to let the band and each musician shine in the limelight. Well, no matter how much it was altered, as soon as the audience recognized the introductory bars to such great classics as Mrs. Robinson, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and The Sound of Silence, unbridled excitement, cheers and applause would break out. I’d noticed that for many in the Jubilee Auditorium tonight, the concert could well be a chance to savor a piece of their past, awaking them to some long forgotten youthful longings, idealism, and the yearning of a better world. But what I didn’t understand was, why did those relatively young females in the audience jump to their feet, swaying, dancing and clapping to the tune of Cecilia? How old were they when Simon and Garfunkel first sang that song? I then realized that the work of the iconic duo transcends generations, their lyrics and melodies mesmerize audience of all ages.
Garfunkel also sang several of his newer titles, changing the mood of the concert hall with jazzy overtone, or moving into a more contemporary number written by Randy Newman. But it was the Simon and Garfunkel songs that elicited the most applause, bringing the audience to a standing ovation several times.
At one point, the singer introduced a song by reading a prose poem from a collection of his own writing. Here, I see Garfunkel the reader transformed into Garfunkel the writer. The singer is known for his wide reading interest, which is impressively chronicled in the Garfunkel Library, a site that records the books he has read since 1968 up till 2006, almost a thousand titles in all. Here in the concert, the singer shared his own writing with the audience, reading a prose poem from a collection of his published work, as an introduction to a song written also by himself.
The concert is part of a Green Planet Concert Series presented by the Pembina Institute, a national enviornmental organization. The displays in the foyer outside the auditorium had raised awareness of wind power and other safe and sustainable energy solutions. The sound and atmosphere inside had evoked reminiscence of mindscapes sustained by soul-searching melodies and lyrics. A powerful evening inside out.