Our Art for Art’s Sake series of posts reaches the end of Art Garfunkel’s first solo album, Angel Clare. Next up: “Second Avenue.”
Another discussion topic I would throw out if I had an audience (and if I hadn’t turned off my comments): What’s the best album that ends with a lullaby?
That’s always an interesting song choice. It might be an obvious way to close out a record, but it shows the artist is thinking thematically, not just stringing stuff together.
Somewhat more ambiguous entries include the first Rickie Lee Jones album (“Say goodnight, America / The world still loves a dreamer”) and Carl and the Passions-So Tough (“The night has come / Cuddle up to me / Keep warm.”)
I haven’t heard Paul Simon’s Stranger to Stranger, which ends with “Insomniac’s Lullaby.” There Goes Rhymin’ Simon would be in the running, except Simon’s song about trying to get his kid to sleep (“St. Judy’s Comet”) is sequenced second-to-last in the running order, not last.
(At the other end of the spectrum we have Alice Cooper, who — forever trying to escape nightmares — has ended several of his records with songs about waking up. But I digress.)
Anyway, Art Garfunkel ends Angel Clare with a lullaby of his own. Or, more accurately, a lullaby of Jimmy Webb’s. Webb, of course, wrote the album’s big breakthrough ballad, “All I Know;” Art subsequently devoted almost the entirety of 1978’s Watermark to Webb compositions.
“Another Lullaby” finds Art in the role of devoted parent, brother and son, once again vowing to protect his dear ones from the horrors of the night. (The “another” in the title suggests he’s been there before.)
A couple of nice lines enliven the go-to-sleep formula, and the arrangement is creatively done.
(Both the lyric and the arrangement peak on the line “Tomorrow comes but it will keep,” as a somber church organ looms up to support Art and then steps back again. How do you work an instrument as elephantine as a church organ into and out of a song so deftly?)
And, most importantly, Art sings it like he means it. It’s not a sleep-inducing performance (that’s the idea of these things, right?) but it’s worth staying awake for.
All told, it makes a satisfying ending to America’s reintroduction to Art Garfunkel, and caps an album that’s pleasant, thoughtfully assembled, generally interesting, but perhaps eclectic to a fault.
I’ll regret writing that when I get to the records that seem like bathtubs full of soft-soap. I’ll miss the kids’ choirs and the bouncy sorta-reggae and the ocean liner (it’s there, Art swears) and the Olde English ballads.
But I haven’t gotten there yet.
For now, I’m going to sleep.