Art Garfunkel, Part 2

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

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“Speaking Freely” show recorded April 1, 2003, in Nashville, Tenn.

[Ken Paulson voiceover:] This week on “Speaking Freely,” we continue our two-part discussion on the words and music of Art Garfunkel. Art joins us along with his new musical partners, Maia Sharp and Buddy Mondlock. Here are some highlights from last week’s show.

[Video clip plays: Ken Paulson: "So, over a period of time, you become the most successful — certainly the most successful duo in pop music history, and you get invited to do a television special your way with Bell Telephone. Art Garfunkel: That was a real confrontation with the powers that be in CBS. They were very nervous about the fact that we made an hour television special sponsored by Bell Telephone — this is as American as you can be — that had a humanist, political statement to it. And the executives at Bell began to get nervous: Are we being really universally embracing enough to all the stations, even — to all the stations? And they called in the executives, and one by one, nobody could commit. They couldn't decide what they felt about it, so, they would bring in the next-senior guy until the head guy would say, 'We can't abide by it. Let's face it,' they said, 'you're taking a political slant here.' And we said, 'What's the politics?' 'It's humanist.' And that's the first time — if you're humanist, you're left of center, I guess. I thought humanity was the all and the everything."]

Ken Paulson: Joining us now is a remarkable array of singers and songwriters. First up is Billy Mann. He’s written many country hits, and he is the man behind this new CD we’ll be talking about (called Everything Waits to be Noticed). Next up is Maia Sharp. Her brand-new album, her third CD, is called Maia Sharp. I can’t figure out why that wasn’t the first one, but we’ll hear about that. And, finally, Buddy Mondlock, also a tremendous talent, successful songwriter and artist in his own right. Great to have you here, and we’re here to talk about how all of you came together for this remarkable project. And I guess the guy who gets the credit first and foremost is Billy Mann.

Maia Sharp:All goes to Billy.

Paulson: Talk to us, will you, please, about how you brought these talents together? How did you know these folks would work well, and where did it all begin? [Laughter]

Billy Mann: Yeah. Well, as it started, I had met with some folks in New York who work with Artie and had asked me about thoughts about working with Artie and what he was up to and what my thoughts might be about him, and a little after that, I’d gone to London and done some songwriting there and worked with Graham Lyle, who wrote “Heart of New York” for Artie, among others. And he’s a wonderful human being and songwriter, and we wrote this song called “Bounce.” And when we wrote the song, I left thinking, “This is, this is the song I need to play for Artie. This is a way for us to get to know each other and begin.” And I went to his house, and I pulled up in a taxi, and we just hit it off. And when I was in Europe, around the same time, I went to London. Bob Doyle, who manages Buddy and myself, had played me some Buddy Mondlock songs, and they were just paintings. And I remember listening to them and thinking, “Hmm, this is an interesting combination for Artie.” And I had met Maia in France — God, this sounds so glamorous, all this traveling. [Laughter] But I had met her at a songwriters retreat, and I loved Maia. I loved her music, I loved her voice, and she just comes with a very three-dimensional identity in, in all of her songs and something so unique. And I just thought, “This is an interesting group of people,” and ultimately it was Artie who, first of all, had the, the wherewithal and the vision to open up to these songwriters that he hadn’t heard of that weren’t Jimmy Webb or Paul Simon or Graham Lyle. And, two, it was really a phone call I got from Artie, a very obscure message on a voice mail that was something like — and I’ll do a bad impression of you, but it was like, “Bill, it’s Artie.” Pause. “Buddy Mondlock is sublime. I am sitting under an oak tree, and the color yellow is shooting out at me, and isn’t Maia Sharp velvet?” Click. And that was, like, the end of the message. [Laughter and applause] So —

Paulson: And very few people do Art Garfunkel, so —

Art Garfunkel: You said Buddy was a painting.

Paulson: Maia, do you recall your reaction when you got the phone call: “Would you like to work with Art Garfunkel?”

Sharp: Absolutely. It was around the holidays of 2000, I believe, and it sounded like a wonderful idea. I was on board, of course. I didn’t completely believe that it was actually gonna happen. [Laughter] I got to say, he followed through. He did everything he said that he was gonna do: “We’re gonna meet; we’re gonna write in Nashville; we’re gonna record at the end of that week; and then we’re gonna hook up in New York, and we’re gonna write for a week; and we’re gonna record at the end of that week, and then we’re all gonna fly out to L.A., and we’re gonna write.” And it happened. It was great.

Paulson: Buddy, what was your reaction when you got the call?

Buddy Mondlock: Well, I didn’t think it was — I thought Billy was joking with me, basically, [Laughter] because, you know, I’d been listening to Simon and Garfunkel records since I first picked up my guitar, so, the possibility of working with Artie was an amazing thing to think about for me. I thought, “Well, you know, whatever happens, you know.” Like Maia, I thought, “Well, whether I just get to meet — even if I just get to meet him would be great, but we’ll see where it goes from there. Maybe he’ll record one of my songs or something.” But —

Garfunkel: I have to leave the room. This is too embarrassing. [Laughter]

Paulson: We — the wild card, though, in this was that Art Garfunkel was a writer in this mix, which has not happened since Tom and Jerry, actually. And this is your book of poetry, Still Water, from 1989 —

Garfunkel: Yeah.

Paulson: — but still available. And wonderful reading, but I have to tell you — reading through this, if you had told me, “This is gonna inspire some songs,” I would say, “I’m not sure.”

Garfunkel: Me, too.

Paulson: This is, this is. I mean because —

Garfunkel: It’s not easy until these two came along.

Paulson: That’s right. “Konstantin Chernenko is dead. I am the newsman in any bedroom.” I don’t hear that on the album. [Laughter] I haven’t heard that. But it’s very striking stuff, but I don’t hear song lyrics, because it’s a dense —

Garfunkel: As poems are denser than songs. They’re different animals, and in my attempt to try and go from prose poem writer to songwriter, I had str — I struck out until Buddy took one of my poems and said, “Let me really try and transfuse it” with his friend Pierce Pettis. And he did it.

Paulson: Well, I’m sure a good many people in the audience have already heard “Bounce,” which has been very audible on the radio, and I’m sure many more songs will receive airplay all over this country — all over the world. You’ve been touring.

Garfunkel: Yeah.

Paulson: Where have you been?

Garfunkel: We’ve just done 17 shows in Germany, Austria, Ireland, and England. We had the great fun of playing the Royal Albert Hall two weeks ago. Thrill.

Paulson: And how do you mix your material with the new material from the CD?

Garfunkel: Something like half and half. I don’t want to lean on the past too much, even though it’s so much fun to do “Kathy’s Song” with Tab. So, you try and keep the proportions right, and I live in the present tense, but I don’t want to be coy and deny “Bridge over Troubled Water” to an audience or deny myself the fun of it.

Paulson: Well, you live in the present, and we should listen to the present. Could we hear some songs from this new CD?

Garfunkel: Sure.

Paulson: I’ll get out of the way.

Mann: I think I will too.

Sharp: You’re gonna be back, right?

Mann: I’ll be back.

Mondlock: Well, this is the song that we were talking about a second ago, kind of the first one that was written for the project. And this started as a poem that Art wrote, but it became other things too. [Plays and sings with Art Garfunkel and Maia Sharp] “I met you once before / the first time. / Cinema one or two, / I noticed you / standing in line. / Your eyes met mine, / and I could not look away. / There we were / in a perfect moment, / a perfect moment in time. / For a moment, you were mine. / So, later on, I knew the first time / that it would be all right for us that night. / Just in our eyes, we made a bridge of sighs. / When we crossed over, it was day. / There we were / in a perfect moment, / a perfect moment in time. / For a moment, you were mine. / I wasn’t ready for the last time. / But wasn’t I supposed to let you go / into the blue? / But still I’m holding you / though you’re a million miles away. / There we are / in a perfect moment, / a perfect moment in time. / For a moment, you are mine. / In a perfect moment, / a perfect moment in time. / For a moment, you were mine. / For a moment, you are mine. / Just for a moment, you are mine.” [Applause]

Garfunkel: It goes, “You are mine.”

Mondlock: [Plays and sings with Art Garfunkel and Maia Sharp] “Everything waits to be noticed. / A tree falls with no one there, / the full potential of a love affair. / Everything waits to be noticed. / Twenty-eight geese in sudden flight, / the last star on the edge of the night, / a single button come undone, / the middle child, the prodigal son. / Everything waits to be noticed. / A trickle underneath a dam, / the missing line from a telegram. / Everything waits to be noticed. / The whispering pains that say you’re living, / the slow burn of not forgiving, / the quiet room, the unlikely pair, / the full potential of a love affair. / Everything waits to be noticed. / Ooh, ooh. / Ooh, ooh. / Ooh, ooh. / Ooh. / Longing for braver days, / cautiously turning a phrase. / Going unnoticed. / But everything wants to be noticed. / Changing light in the upper air, / the full potential of a love affair. / Everything waits to be noticed. / Hoo, mm. / Hmm, mm.” [Applause]

Garfunkel: [Sings with Maia Sharp and Buddy Mondlock, playing] “I’m the kid who ran away with the circus. / Now I’m watering elephants. / But I sometimes lie awake in the sawdust / dreaming I’m in a suit of light. / Late at night in the empty big top, / I’m all alone on the high wire. / ‘Look, he’s working without a net this time. / He’s a real death-defier.’ / I’m the kid who always looked out the window, / failing tests in geography. / But I’ve seen things / far beyond just the school yard — / distant shores of exotic lands. / There the spires of the Turkish empire. / It’s six months since we made landfall. / Riding low with the spice of India / through Gibraltar, / we’re rich men all. / I’m the kid who / thought we’d someday be lovers, / always held out that time would tell. / But time was talking. / I guess I just wasn’t listening. / No surprise, if you know me well. / And as we’re walking toward the train station, / there’s a whispering rainfall. / Across the boulevard, / you slip your hand in mine. / In the distance: the train call. / I’m the kid who has this habit of dreaming. / Sometimes gets me in trouble, too. / But the truth is, / I could no more stop dreaming / than I could make them all come true.” [Applause]

Garfunkel: Some call him a visionary. Some call him a leader. I call him the troublemaker. [Billy Mann laughs]

Sharp: And this is the very song you played for Art over the phone, yes?

Garfunkel: This is what hooked me, Billy.

Mann: Thank you. [Plays and sings with Art Garfunkel, Maia Sharp and Buddy Mondlock] “Spin that wheel. / Just let go. / Where she falls, / nobody knows. / Save your breath. / Let those snake eyes roll. / We bounce between the devil and the deep blue sea, / bounce between forever and what may never be. / Let the light of love keep bouncing off the diamond / in the darker side of me. / I never had no education, / just an inarticulation of the heart. / But burning deep inside me is a diamond in the dark. / Catch that flame. / Let it warm your soul. / Love’s cruel game is the great unknown. / All that fear — / do you know you’re not alone? / We bounce between the devil and the deep blue sea, / bounce between forever and what may never be. / We bounce between decision, destinations constantly. / Let the light of love keep bouncing off the diamond in the darker side of me. / I never had no education, / just an inarticulation of the heart. / But burning deep inside me is a diamond in the dark. / A shine of flash, and then it’s over. / A lightning strike, a chance remark. / Am I the only one here like a diamond in the dark, / like a diamond in the dark? / ” [Applause]

” We walked through the station. / You ran and made the train. / I just got caught up in the crowd. / You turned back. / Our eyes met. / You could have sworn I was right behind. / Fear kept my feet flat on the ground. / Then you vanished with a smile, vanished with a smile, / like you knew that I would be awhile. / How did you know? / How did you know? / How could you tell? / How could you tell / that one day I’d love you completely? / Love you completely. / Now we can run, / Now we can run. / Into the night. / How did you know / that we were meant to be? / How’d you know to wait for me? / How’d you know to wait for me? / How’d you know to wait for me? / How did you know this? / How’d you know to wait for me?” [Applause]