Favorite Tracks: "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" and "Patterns" and "Cloudy" and "Homeward Bound" and "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" and "The Dangling Conversation" and "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall" and "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" and "A Poem on the Underground Wall" and "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night"
Thoughts: Ooooh baby. Welcome to our second Simon & Garfunkel album. We listened to Bookends back at #229 earlier this year in April. Who's pleased as punch to have them back? I am. Thank you, RS list, for bringing the awesome two albums in a row. I hope this is the start of something new (it feels so right, to be here with yooou!) Let's let the sweet, sweet sounds take us to paradise. A sad, melancholy paradise.
The first song, "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" features the lyrics the album is named for. Which everyone knows, but I'm repeating it anyway. I also think it's safe to say that this is the best known herb song of all time. Agreed? It should also be stated that Paul and Art didn't write this song, but in fact it's a traditional British ballad. They did arrange this version though. Enough with the boring, obvious facts! It's a fantastic song, with brilliant harmonies, especially 3-part. Which leads me to share with you my very favorite version of this song featuring the late, great Andy Williams (my parents tried to remind me of him when he passed, but I kept confusing him with Matlock):
Isn't that transcendent? Love, love, love it.
Next up is "Patterns" which is a song I didn't grow up knowing, probably because my parents nor the Oldies station in my hometown played it very often. But it's excellent. I love the drums (bongos?) and the guitar solo. "Cloudy" is another song I couldn't sing for you on command. The start is super sweet and lovely, and the whole song seems perfect for a lazy day on a hillside or a drive through the country.
Next is "Homeward Bound"! We've also seem that traumatizing pet movie by the same name, right? Gawd, that messed me up as a kid. I mean, we had a golden retriever, so:
Anyway, the song! I of course really like the original version, but my favorite is from a 1976 episode of SNL, where Paul sang it with none other than George Harrison. You know I love you, Art, but come on. This will win every time:
I mean, COME ON. So perfect.
I think the only time I've really heard "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" was in The Graduate. I mean, I don't really remember it, but it's on the soundtrack. It's not bad, but I don't need to add it to any playlists.
As a kid it took me awhile to accept that S&G wrote and sang "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" because it seemed such a perfect example of slightly goofy, kitschy 60s songs, not at all their usual sound (in my mind). But now when I hear it, I wonder how I ever could have doubted it's theirs. In high school my parents gave me one of those Costco full discography sets of Simon & Garfunkel. My clearest memory of this song is listening to it on my Walkman in our backyard.
Onto side B! "The Dangling Conversation" opens the second half of this album. I first really listened to this song in the summer of 2011. I had it on repeat for days. It's sad and beautiful and lyrically brilliant. And you read your Emily Dickinson and I my Robert Frost/and we note our place with bookmarkers that measure what we've lost. Looove it. Not to mention the strings!
"Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall" is another one that I don't know at all. But like many S&G songs, it's musically cute and sweet with a dark, hopeless theme in its message. It seems like it would fit well in a movie--The Graduate even. (But it wasn't in The Graduate.)
"A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was MacNamara'd into Submission)" is full of culture references and has a fun beat. "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" is just incredibly lovely and moving. Listening to it instantly relaxed me. I was confused for a while because I somehow thought that Bon Iver had covered this song. But his song is called "For Emma, Forever Ago." The titles really aren't that similar, and neither are the songs. Well done, me!
"A Poem on the Underground Wall" is a beautiful, driving ballad. The harmonizing is--as usual--flawless. I didn't really hear "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night" until a few years ago when someone put it on a Christmas mix for me. It is unbelievably moving and sobering. I wonder if anyone ever played it at a Christmas Eve service in a church?
Anyway, I will always consider Simon & Garfunkel as one of the greatest acts of all time. If you like them, I recommend a modern duo from Norway called The Kings of Convenience. They harmonize over sweet acoustic guitar. I'd start with "Winning a Battle, Losing the War" and "Gold in the Air of Summer" (one of my very favorite songs about the season).
Is This Better Than Bad?:
I believe we can safely say YES.