How Art Garfunkel Chose ‘All I Know’ for His Debut Solo Single
Songwriter Jimmy Webb recalled how he finally found a song that Art Garfunkel liked, leading to the success of the singer’s debut solo single, “All I Know,” from his album Angel Clare in 1973.
Webb – who wrote the classic songs “Wichita Lineman,” “Up, Up and Away,” “MacArthur Park” and many others – also praised Garfunkel’s voice, after the singer said he's always doubted it.
“Art had been acting for a while after the breakup of Simon & Garfunkel,” Webb told Mojo in a recent interview. “He wanted to get back into music. He was calling songwriters up to San Francisco to play songs for him. All the hottest writers were there – Stephen Bishop, James Taylor, David Crosby and Graham Nash. He was discarding songs right and left. I sat at the piano and played just about everything I had. Nothing interested him.”
Webb recalled that, "after a couple of hours, dozens of songs and a couple of Baptist hymns had played out, I remembered a song written for a girl who had broken my heart. The song had been spoiled for me as the romance soured, but in a moment of desperation I pulled it out and … Art loved it. ‘All I Know’ went on to be his first solo hit, No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. We have been close friends and collaborators ever since.”
You can listen to the song below.
Garfunkel said he worried that his voice was “too damn sensitive” and “too fragile” – but Webb countered with his own opinion.
“Artie is the intellectual’s intellectual," he noted. "He is finely tuned to art, architecture and current events. He boasts a soft yet hypnotic singing style, which only he has truly mastered.”
Webb also explained that Garfunkel “believes in precision. ... Lyrics always must be perfect. He delivers elocution and emotional intangibles like no one else. He absolutely will not sing out of pitch. His dedication to excellence has crushed many a lesser man.”