“What Is It All but Luminous Notes from an Underground Man” By Art Garfunkel

33931219What Is It All but Luminous
Notes from an Underground Man
By: Art Garfunkel
Narrated by: Art Garfunkel
Length: 5 hrs and 8 mins
Release date: 09-26-17
Publisher: Random House Audio

Every so often I have to go through a phase of musician biographies and autobiographies.  This time around I picked up the audiobook of Art Garfunkel’s “What is it all but Luminous…”  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I did know I liked Simon & Garfunkel.  One of my first LPs I ever heard was “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme,” it was in my dad’s record collection and I loved the cut “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night.” The sound of the news under the harmonies of Simon & Garfunkel singing “Silent Night” was beautiful yet haunting.  In fact this was the first song I can recall that made my hairs stand on end.

I later in life followed the career of Paul Simon and loved every one of his albums.  For me Garfunkel kind of just faded away.  I guess he was like the Aquaman of musicians.  (my nerdy readers will get that reference)

So what did I expect to hear in this?  I’m not really sure. Maybe I was just curious as to what I missed.  Whatever I expected it was not this book.  Being an audiobook read by the author I knew I would be getting it from the horse’s mouth.

Art Garfunkel not only has a great singing voice, but he also is a bit of a hippie and poet.  I was a bit annoyed by some of this book.   What annoyed me?  Well at times I would just shake it off as him being a pretentious hippie poet.  For example, at the beginning of every single chapter (except chapter 9 for some reason) he would say “Chapter XX or whatever you call them.”  Why?  It was annoying….if you don’t know what to call them then don’t, or if you are such an existentialist that chapters are a composition of the mind don’t call them chapters.  Many books just start a new section without numbers.  Jeez, that was annoying.  But I got over that after about 7 chapters or so and just listened to the content.

Basically this book is a recap of the author’s life in prose and many times poetry form.  Some of the poetry was a bit “out there” for my taste but I worked through it.  All in all it was still somewhat entertaining, a nice view of his career and life, and finally some of the poetry was quite fun.

So would I recommend it?  Yes, but only to a select few and with a bit of a warning. Something along the lines of :  “Warning: what you are about to read/hear is the collections of a very artistic mind, the views and opinions expressed may be a bit wordy or over the top in the use of synonyms, but you will be able to pick out a few shiny gems of pure art, while learning about a musician’s life.”

Publisher’s Summary

From the golden-haired, curly-headed half of Simon & Garfunkel – a memoir (of sorts): artful, moving, lyrical; the making of a musician; the evolution of a man, a portrait of a lifelong friendship and collaboration that became one of the most successful singing duos of their time.

Art Garfunkel writes about his life before, during, and after Simon & Garfunkel…about their folk-rock music in the roiling age that embraced and was defined by their path-breaking sound. He writes about growing up in the 1940s and ’50s (son of a traveling salesman), a middle class Jewish boy, living in a red brick semi-attached house in Kew Gardens, Queens, a kid who was different – from the age of five feeling his vocal cords “vibrating with the love of sound”…meeting Paul Simon in school, the funny guy who made Art laugh; their going on to junior high school together, of being 12 at the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, both of them “captured” by it; going to a recording studio in Manhattan to make a demo of their song “Hey Schoolgirl” (for $7!) and the actual record (with Paul’s father on bass) going to number 40 on the national charts, selling 150,000 copies….

He writes about their becoming Simon & Garfunkel, taking the world by storm, ruling the pop charts from the time he was 16, about not being a natural performer but more a thinker…touring; sex-for-thrills on the road, reading or walking to calm down (walking across two continents – the USA and Europe). He writes of being an actor working with directors Nicolas Roeg (Bad Timing) and Mike Nichols (“the greatest of them all”)…getting his master’s in mathematics at Columbia; choosing music over a PhD; his slow, unfolding split with Paul and its aftermath; learning to perform on his own, giving a thousand concerts worldwide, his voice going south (a stiffening of one vocal cord) and working to get it back…about being a husband, a father, and much more.

©2017 Art Garfunkel (P)2017 Random House Audio