I’ve had this album stored away in my record shelves for at least a year or more now. I remember I found it in the dollar bin at one of the local record shops here in OKC. This means that our alphabet series will now be brought further along with the help from the letter “G.”
Now I am a big Simon and Garfunkel fan, so this was an interesting venture into the wide array of music Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel have made both together and apart.
Musically, the album Watermark is very inconstant, but this is not a negative. Garfunkel just seems to jump around with varying arrangements with drastically different instrumental styles. This album is also richly pop compared to his Simon and Garfunkel days. Lyrically, this album has some of Jimmy Webb’s best lyrical compositions.
The album opens up with the “Crying in My Sleep.” This song was released as the first single from the album, but failed to chart, thus the record company pulled the album and added another song they thought would be a hit. I actually quite like this song. It’s a mellow tune, kind of an adult contemporary power ballad. It even has a live operator.
The third track on side A is entitled “Shine it On Me.” It really shows Garfunkel’s vocal ability by demonstrating his rich highs in his vocal register. He then goes into “Watermark,” a haunting tune of losing a lover, but wondering what was ever there.
Flip to Side B. It begins with a cover of Sam Cocke’s “(What A) Wonderful World.” This was the replacement song and it did score Garfunkel some chart success. Paul Simon and James Taylor add backing vocals to this track giving it a reminiscent feeling of Simon and Garfunkel Days.
Garfunkel then goes into a jazzy song entitled “Mr. Shuck’n’Jive.” This song is topped off with a sax solo. This is a 380 of how you have heard Garfunkel before. I just picture this song being done in a cabaret in front of red curtains and complete with suspenders and a 5 piece band.
Lastly, Garfunkel gives a striking performance of the ballad “Someone Else (1958).” I love this song for it’s stripped down feel and how the lyrics switch the tables to a rare viewpoint. He knows that she is with someone else, but he also knows she will do the same thing to that “someone else.” It’s a song of sympathy for the next man.
What I find fascinating about this album was the fact that all but one song was written by Jimmy Webb. Webb is a native Oklahoman hailing from Elk City. He is known for writing such hits as “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston,” and “MacArthur Park.” Also, The Oklahoma Baptist University Chorale from Shawnee sang many of the backing vocals. That’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from where I sit now.
Although this album was not Garfunkel’s most successful solo adventure, for me it solidified that when he is partnered with the right people, like Jimmy Webb, his voice will flourish to drastically different levels showing various facades that we could not see in his folk driven past. This album is that subtle piece of art on your wall. You may not notice it all the time, but you sure love it when you give it a spin.