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Growing up, I have to admit that I always thought that Simon & Garfunkel were, for lack of a better word, pretty lame. That changed the first time I watched The Graduate. Featured heavily on the film’s soundtrack, it’s one of the most effective marriages of music and film. What stuck with me more than anything was that final shot of Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross on the bus as “Sound of Silence” starts playing. This was a jumping off point of sorts for me to delve deeper into Simon & Garfunkel. Although that particular song was written by Simon, equally important to its effectiveness are the contributions made by Garfunkel’s vocals.
Which brings us to Art Garfunkel’s aptly titled “The Singer.” Curated by Garfunkel himself, the 34 song set sees him attempt to produce a career spanning collection of what he considers his best work. As a musician who has been active for over half a century he was probably being conservative with cutting it off at 34. It includes everything from Simon & Garfunkel hits to his solo work and even two new songs. One of the things that stands out the most about the album is Garfunkel managed to avoid the trap of ordering all of the songs chronologically, instead opting to place them in the order he felt most made sense. It’s personal touches like this and the annotations that Garfunkel wrote for each song (included in the booklet) that raise “The Singer” above being just a Greatest Hits collection. And, although all of the #1 hits are indeed included, the album never feels so heavy handed as that. Garfunkel’s best quality as a songwriter might be his subtlety. Although he is more than capable of blowing you away with his voice, “The Singer” shows that he is at his best and most transcendent when he is crafting delicate songs. Tune in at 5pm today to reflect on the career of one of the best singer-songwriters of all time.
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