The silky voiced singer looks back on his career and life.
It would be hard to improve on the author’s description of his younger self: “I live in my own rarified air. I put the ‘e’ in ‘artist’ every day.” There have been few popular music memoirs with more literary references and less of a sense of self-deprecating humor. Though Garfunkel (Still Water: Prose Poems, 1989) knows that he is generally dismissed as the secondary partner to songwriter Paul Simon—“I was a ‘BOUNCE,’ a sort of wall / and he of course had the ball”—this singular mixture of verse, doggerel, blog and diary entries, soul-baring confession, and lists of hundreds of books read is less about setting the record straight on Simon and Garfunkel than allowing readers to gaze into the poetic soul of an artist who variously sees himself as Don Quixote, James Joyce, Rimbaud, Odysseus, Whitman, and Prometheus. “I have these vocal cords. Two,” he writes. “They have vibrated with the love of sound since I was five and began to sing with the sense of God’s gift running through me.” Simon may have written the songs, but Garfunkel had the voice, the hair, and the looks, and he got the girls. But all things must pass. “Does anyone notice the faint aroma of slowly decaying flesh?” he asks. “I’m depressed. All is vanity. Where is meaning?” Much of the book is about the joy he has found as a husband and a father, and some of it is about his acting career, which established him as a presence apart from Simon. “Before there was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, there was Simon and Garfunkel—an extraordinary, a singular love affair,” he writes, though the relationship is as ambivalent as it is symbiotic. Now, many decades on, “I am an old boatman / I cast my net of pretense before me / Then I sail into it.”
There are many voyages here, some flashes of vision, and plenty of pretense.