NEW YORK — The highlights were plentiful at the 29th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Brooklyn back in April.
There was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s epic 85-minute induction. The Hall & Oates induction was short and sweet, just like the terse but satisfying pop songs crafted by one of the most successful tandems in rock history. The show was capped by an incendiary performance by the surviving members of Nirvana.
And then there were the smaller but still memorable moments, such as Art Garfunkel’s funny and moving induction of Cat Stevens. Garfunkel was at his self-deprecating best when waxing about the artist known today as Yusuf Islam.
“All the girls that I took out were Cat Stevens fans,” Garfunkel said. “He was a sexy guy. Sensitivity with a bass voice. I should have thought of that.”
Garfunkel, 72, possesses one of the most elegant and identifiable voices in the business – a voice his fans were worried they’d never hear again when an ailment caused him to lose it in 2010 and cancel a tour with Paul Simon.
But that’s all behind him.
“I feel really good right now,” Garfunkel says. “I really appreciate having the opportunity to sing again.”
Garfunkel, who will perform Thursday at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, certainly sings some impressive songs.
Sure, there are the Simon & Garfunkel standards, such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Homeward Bound” and “The Boxer.” But Garfunkel also has a knack for picking covers that perfectly suit his unique voice. “Real Emotional Girl,” written by the masterful Randy Newman, and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)” are some of the tunes he has nailed over the years.
“There are so many great songs out there,” Garfunkel says. “I have the opportunity to sing some incredible songs. We all know what Paul (Simon) has done over his career. He’s written some amazing songs, and there are others out there who have written some terrific songs as well.”
However, Garfunkel (who, by the way, has perfect diction) is more than a man with a sublime vocal range. He has also impressed as an actor. Garfunkel stole 1971’s “Carnal Knowledge” from Jack Nicholson and scored critical acclaim for performances in such films as 1980s’ “Bad Timing.”
“Not only did I enjoy being part of films, I took it quite seriously,” he says.
But there is a lighter side of the usually serious Garfunkel. During performances, particularly when he answers questions from the audience, he is charming and often hilarious – something he showed off during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. And during interviews, Garfunkel can be a hoot.
During a chat a dozen years ago, I mentioned that I blew it by not catching a Simon & Garfunkel reunion in 1993 in New York City. I asked Garfunkel why he didn’t cash in on a reunion tour with former performing partner Simon, and reminded him that he wasn’t getting any younger.
“Yes, I’ll call Paul and tell him that a journalist, Ed Condran, missed out on our residency in New York and he suggests we take advantage of a reunion tour. We could make a lot of money and we’re not getting any younger.”
By happenstance – maybe? – the tandem reunited the following year.
“It’s all been amazing,” Garfunkel says. “It’s been a wonderful career and it continues.”