Columbia Records, 1979
A1. In a Little While (I’ll Be on my Way)
A2. Since I Don’t Have You
A3. And I Know
A4. Sail on a Rainbow
A5. Miss You Nights
B1. Finally Found a Reason
B2. Beyond the Tears
B3. Oh How Happy
B4. When Someone Doesn’t Want You
B5. Take Me Away
Gotta say, this was a fun find in Amoeba’s dollar bin many years ago. It is marked for Demonstration: Not For Sale in a peeling gold imprint on the back, and though I respect radio-only materials, I still bought Fate for Breakfast with haste. It came out forty years ago so I think it’s fine. I was drawn to the distinctive art, driven by warmth in yellows and oranges—and the best part? There were six unique sleeves printed for this record. The majority of the digital versions I find online but I love the cover I found; check out the spread on Pinterest. Taylor Swift was not the first!
I had never looked into Art Garfunkel’s solo career despite loving the Simon & Garfunkel hits and also naming Graceland one of my favorite records of all time. So this was an exciting listen. It started strong—I never knew he sang so high, and I am a complete sucker for falsetto (as has been documented probably too much on this blog). Also, many of these singles have potential at charting now, given how groovy and pop-forward it truly is. Absurdly, one of the genres that appears when you Google Fate for Breakfast is R&B/Soul, which tells me they didn’t listen past track one. Speaking of, “In a Little While (I’ll Be on My Way)” could be an indie hit today with its tight grooves and universal lyricism.
Honestly, that’s my whole criticism of this record. It’s so well-crafted and fun to listen to, but the lyrics are generic and boring. Where I had hoped a story may emerge, instead I followed Garfunkel around as he crooned about getting dumped. Not that I’m against breakup albums in general—quite the opposite, I am always perversely excited to see where the artist allows their emotions to take them.
But there is no emotion here. Art didn’t write these songs, he just sang them. That said, hell, he did a great job! I was drawn in by the melodrama of “And I Know” and genuinely confused as to whether a guitar was speaking. I cringed at most of the ballads but found “Since I Don’t Have You” beautiful. Right before the album’s finale, “When Someone Doesn’t Want You” reminded me just how vast the difference in quality was between lyrics and everything else; give me more vibrating keys and soft horns, I beg, but no more about how the painting’s dry and you’ve been denied. That’s just how paintings are painted! You gotta start with a base coat—which has to dry—then there’s a million reasons why a painting may be tinkered with well past its “completion.” And don’t even get me started on the use of the preposition ‘inside’ (should be in, or otherwise, find a different rhyme for “denied”). My last thought as the hater I am: in the same way that it is repulsive to hear “Happy” by Pharrel while you’re sad, the same can be said of “Oh How Happy.” Fun, but only if you are in the mood for unironic joy.
Ultimately, kudos to his band for creating a wonderful collection of music. Does it make me want to listen to more Art Garfunkel? No, but I probably would have formed an unnecessary attachment if I heard it at the same time my mom told me about Paul Simon’s solo career. Sorry Art, you missed the boat. I think you have a song about that too.