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The Harmony Game

Thursday 11 October 2012, 12:59

Roddy Hart Roddy Hart Presenter

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Art Garfunkel - that lanky, tightly curled, nostril flaring champion of a man - just so happens to be the punchline to my favourite story of all time. Alas, dear reader, it's not suitable for recounting in this keenly regulated blog (so they tell me), but suffice to say if you ever happen to bump into Another Country's Ricky Ross then don't let him leave your sight until he tells it to you. And so it's for this very reason (the name now triggering some rather bizarre imagery) that I can often forget just how phenomenal a singer Artie actually is. It only takes a few seconds of listening to Simon and Garfunkel live in the mid 60s - our Live On Arrival choice this week - to be reminded just how spine tingling that tenor and falsetto can be. There is something otherworldly about the man and his talent, as if beamed in from another planet specifically to align with one of the world's most gifted songwriters and go on to define a new generation of music fans. And if the extra-terrestrial were at play, it would certainly explain the nostrils.

But of course, take the feeling that Art's voice can inspire when heard solo and multiply it a thousand times when Paul adds a harmony. Grown men have been known to weep when the two collide with such precision of phrasing and timing (not a manly man like me though, naturally) - a divine intuition that exists only in the chosen few. And the harmony game, I'm glad to say, is alive and flourishing today, with bands like Fleet Foxes and Dawes from America, and new starlets The Staves from England, all doffing their caps to Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and beyond. It's a skill I envy - my attempts at close harmony can end up coming scarily close to Spinal Tap's graveside Elvis tribute - and it's one that should be treasured. Just look at the Beach Boys very public falling out this week, Mike Love slinging Brian Wilson the cruelest of dinghys by booking tour dates without him after the band made their triumphant 50th anniversary return recently. The lesson? If you are born to sing together, then no matter how much you annoy each other, keep singing. You owe it to us.

So on the show this week, we will rejoice in harmony of all kinds. Plus, we have a welcome return from Aimee Mann (our Record Of Note), and go Undercover with Tin Pan Alley's wunderkinds Carole King and Gerry Goffin. You know the drill: 10.05pm on BBC Radio Scotland.

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