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KOEDYKER: 'Singing is so much fun,' so says Art Garfunkel

• Oct 24, 2018 at 2:00 PM

It’s not often that you get to see a living legend. So, when I heard Art Garfunkel, of Simon and Garfunkel fame, was going to be coming to the Frauenthal Theater in Muskegon, I went down to the ticket office early and got my tickets.

And what a great night! Artie did a wonderful job.

Yes, like the rest of us, he is aging, but the voice that had temporarily left him has come back. At 76, his movements are a bit slower, but passion for music and the arts has not left him. When you think of it, he must love singing if he is willing to go on tour across the country.

Garfunkel was very much up-close and personal with the audience. Sitting about halfway back from the stage on the main floor, it felt like he was speaking directly to me.

I actually loved the fact that he shared so much of his personal life. It made him so real — not just a musical icon of my growing-up years.

One of the things he shared was that he has been singing for more than 50 years. He told about how it all began for him at a young age when he sang in his local synagogue in New York City. It was then that he realized he had a voice that, as he put it, “made grown men cry.”

He also recollected how he met Paul Simon in the sixth grade and spoke about the close relationship they had for each other, which continues to this day.

Up on the stage, I saw an aging man, still singing his heart out and happily doing so. I saw a very sweet and tender man. He shared a great deal about his dear wife, who he obviously loves and adores, and a son who means a great deal to him.

Interspersed between his songs, which everyone in my generation knows — “Scarborough Fair,” “The Boxer,” “Homeward Bound” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” — he also read some of his deeply touching poetry. I always knew him as a singer, a celebrity, but this evening clearly brought out his personal side.

One of the statements he made sticks in my head: “Singing is so much fun!” Being a singer myself, I heartily agree.

I wrote those words down and texted them to my daughter, who teaches music and choirs here in Grand Haven. She responded immediately: “That is why we do it!”

Martin Luther, the great reformer, had similar thoughts about music. “As long as we live, there is never enough singing,” he said.” In another place he commented, “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” He also called music “one of the fairest and most glorious gifts of God.”

I would have to agree with that. Certainly Art Garfunkel believes that. Toward the end of the program, after all these years of singing, his conclusion is that his singing voice “is a gift from God I was given.”

I was deeply moved by the evening with Art Garfunkel. The spiritual dimension of his life was evident throughout. But, especially at the end, he did an encore in which he sang a prayer. It is a prayer which many of us learn when we are children to say before bed. Softly and gently, Artie sang a good-night prayer to us: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Bless and guide me through the night, and wake me with the morning light.”

No better ending to his concert could ever have been made. It left me thanking and praising God for the gift of music and the peace and grace of knowing the One who has blessed us with this wonderful gift.

— By the Rev. John Koedyker, pastor of congregational care at First Reformed Church of Grand Haven.

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