Saturday, October 21, 2006

125. Simon and Garfunkel - Bookends (1968)

Track Listing

1. Bookends Theme
2. Save The Life Of My Child
3. America
4. Overs
5. Voice Of Old People
6. Old Friends
7. Bookends Theme
8. Fakin' It
9. Punky's Dilemma
10. Mrs Robinson
11. Hazy Shade Of Winter
12. At The Zoo


From the previous review of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, you probably allready know that I'm a bit of a Simon and Garfunkel buff, not as much as my girlfriend but quite a bit. So, this album was never going to disappoint, particularly because I've been familiar with it for the last 24 years.

That said there are pluses and minuses to this album, and it is not perfect, actually I don't think there is a Simon and Garfunkel perfect album, I can always nitpick at something. This is not because I dislike them however, it's criticism out of love really, and as I said it is very much nitpicking. The album is mostly amazing, but you could say that the whole artistic sequence of Voices of Old People, Old Friends and Bookends is both a bit pretentious and schmaltzy. But, then it is all of those things extremely well done. Voices is an impressive example of voice collage and the longing feeling of the two songs that follow it work perfectly... but sometimes it does grate on your sensibilities.

Mrs. Robinson is definitely the most famous track on the whole album, and it is indeed a good track, but it is not great, and it has been played to death due to its association with The Graduate. I would have to say that both musically and lyrically America is a much better song, as is Hazy Shade of Winter or Overs. But again these criticisms are from someone who has spent way too many years listening to this album, and I did that for a reason. The reason being that it is excellent. Stream it from Napster or buy it at Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. America
2. A Hazy Shade of Winter
3. Overs
4. At The Zoo

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

"America", a Paul Simon song, was made popular by 1960s folk duo Simon and Garfunkel. It was included in their album Bookends, released on 3 April 1968.

The song was released as a single in 1972, to coincide with the album Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits, and eventually hit #97 on the Billboard Hot 100. The flip side of the single, "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her," did slightly better, reaching #53.

The song describes in first-hand terms the physical and metaphorical journey of two companions in search of the true meaning of America. Their initial hopefulness, indicated by such lyrics as "Let us be lovers," turns to a sense of frustration and sadness, accompanied by the breakdown of their relationship. "'Kathy, I'm lost,' I said, though I knew she was sleeping" is a reference to Kathy Chitty, with whom Simon had a relationship while living in England in 1965.

In January 1977, Paul Simon performed the song at the Kennedy Center at Jimmy Carter's inaugural gala. He said then that the song had been written in a despairing mood about the country, but that he was performing it with a new sense of hope. Some have speculated that the line, "Michigan seems like a dream to me now" might refer to the 1962 Port Huron Statement, the founding manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society.

The song mentions the cities of Saginaw, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the New Jersey Turnpike; and Mrs. Wagner's Pies.

The song was rearranged by the progressive rock band Yes in 1971; this version was released on the compilation album Yesterdays in 1975 and also appeared on the 2003 re-issue of their album Fragile. A memorably minimalist performance of it was given by David Bowie to open The Concert for New York City, held in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The baritone Josh Groban also did a rendition of it on his live album.

In 2000, "America" was featured in the soundtrack to the film Almost Famous. The main character's sister, Anita, cites the song as her reason for leaving home to become a stewardess.

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