Columbia/Legacy RecordingsArt Garfunkel knows all about the sound of silence. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was forced to take a hiatus from performing for about two years after he experienced a condition called vocal cord paresis that severely affected his esteemed singing voice. Now, however, Garfunkel has recovered enough to return to the stage, and has scheduled a series of shows that run well into the fall. The concerts also are being held to help promote his new two-CD, 34-track compilation, The Singer, which gathers together highlights from his years with Paul Simon and standout tracks from his long solo career.
In a new interview, Garfunkel tells ABC News Radio that he's "tremendously proud" of The Singer, which he compiled himself. "Like nothing I've ever done before, this is the baby," he declares. "It is my life's body of work. The best of what I have done with Mr. Simon and without, through my entire life of 50 years of trying to be a good singer."
Rather than arrange the songs chronologically, Garfunkel explains that he chose the sequence by the "feel" of the tunes.
"I know my work so well. I know the tone and the quality of their opening intros," he notes. "So, as I had a first song, I just reviewed all my body of work in my head and I knew which song felt like it wanted to come next."
Among the songs featured on The Singer are original versions of Simon & Garfunkel tunes and solo Garfunkel numbers, some alternate live or studio renditions his classics, lesser-known gems and two brand-new recordings -- "Long Way Home" and "Lena" -- that were laid down only a few months back.
Regarding his decision to include the new material on the retrospective, Garfunkel says, "Here I have an album of the best of my work through five decades, but nothing represents today, and I wanted to show that my voice is functional again…So, it's a way of saying, 'I'm all right, Jack.'"
Both tunes were brought to him by singer/songwriter Maia Sharp, with whom he collaborated -- along with Buddy Mondlock -- on the 2002 album Everything Waits to Be Noticed.
Another interesting track included on The Singer is a 2004 live version of the 1966 Simon & Garfunkel gem "Kathy's Song," which originally was sung by Paul.
Garfunkel tells ABC News Radio that he picked the updated rendition because "I thought I sang it really nice that night…and I think Paul Simon's guitar playing is just incredible."
He adds, "If you want to understand Simon & Garfunkel, just listen to what Paul is playing. The guitar playing is just the most wonderful carriage to put a passenger on, and I'm the passenger, singing."
On August 24 in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Garfunkel gave his first concert in more than two years. However, a bad cold forced him to postpone three subsequent shows this month. With regard to his vocal issues, he stresses, "I'm doing everything I can to try and bring [my voice] back, like see the doctor, relax, be silent, now start warming it up, now bring it onto the stage…Things are coming along nice."
As for how he felt at the concert in Williamstown, he says, "I was fragile, but there it was. I can sing again."
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio