I had a very special surprise yesterday when MrNoo told me that he had tickets for Art Garfunkel at the Royal Festival Hall. He had seen them when booking my birthday treat to the Lion King and knew that AG is a whole lifetime of good stuff for me.............
Is there something that whisks you back to childhood? something that the merest note of, or smell of, or sight of just plonks you down in your childhood back yard, aged 8 with a grazed knee (I always had grazed knees - and bruises!) a big smile on your face and dirty hands?
Simon and Garfunkel are like that for me.... as solo artists as well as the infamous duets. Mum and Dad were both ardent S&G fans, my sister and I were brought up on Sounds of SIlence, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Bookends and Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme. By an early age we knew pretty much all the words (or the words we imagined them to be!) and the order of the songs on the LP's. As loyal fans we continued to support their solo work. And a good few drives to the South of France were accompanied by a never-ending cassette (God Bless the auto-reverse invention) of Watermark. (actually dual sided with Bonnie Raitt's Streetlights I think?) Simon and Garfunkel's songs and LP's were, and indeed still are the soundtrack to my life. As I hit my teens I began to appreciate the words for their messages, for every song that a teenager loves must have a deep and meaningful message!!.The canticle which underlies Scarborough Fair, the seven o'clock news behind Silent Night, and beautiful beautiful songs like Kathy's song, and America. Art Garfunkel's solo work contained songs by Jimmy Webb, James Taylor and Randy Newman to name but a few, as well as old ballads. I grew to appreciate the solo albums for the two distict characters that they portrayed. AG the more emotional, gentle, story-telling songs, with a silky smooth voice that always conveys the story he is telling. Paul Simon the slightly more morose, deep angsty melodies. But always both with harmonies that break your heart and set you free all at the same time.
So, last night was a chance to re-visit old emotions, and memories and re-kindle a love affair with real music with real lyrics and real melodies.
AG walked on stage in blue jeans, white shirt and a black waistcoat and I swear it could have been 25 years ago (!) apart from the small joke about the thoughts he had had whilst setting his hairpiece in his dressing room (which may not have been as much of a joke as we thought at the time :) ) He opened with El Condor Pasa, and continued through a couple of Paul Simon Tunes before moving off on to some of his solo work. His voice for the most part was still as silky smooth as ever, the occasional croak, but at his tender years he is forgiven, and indeed after the inverval his voice had warmed up and was far more reliable. How someone can stand with his hands in his pockets looking for all the world like he's about to catch a bus.......... open his mouth ... and sing so softly, so perfectly, so amazingly...............?. His voice is so much purer live than ever it sounds on a recording. There were a couple of real surprises too - a reading from his book of prose to introduce a lullaby, which was quite beautiful, and a rendition of a song Paul Simon wrote called On the Side of a Hill (some of the words of which are the Canticle sung by Paul Simon under Scarborough Fair on their LP) - an anti-war song which they decided not to release at the time and so never got recorded in its own right. A truly beautiful song, and every bit as pertinent now as ever it was.
So guess what I'm listening to on the Ipod today?!