Monday, 6 June 2005

A Boxer on a Bridge over a Cloudy Scarborough Silence

The other night, I went for a little gathering, and someone played a CD compilation of Simon & Garfunkel songs. A colleague and I then began singing along to the songs, to the surprise and bewilderment of our other friends, because we were basically the only ones there who knew the words to almost every single song.

I've been listening to Simon & Garfunkel songs almost all my life. My parents were big fans, and I grew up listening to their songs. In fact, I think theirs were the first songs I remember listening to when I was a kid.

I'd sit by the radio and memorize all the lyrics of the songs in the compilation album my dad had, and I'd sing along everything the songs came on.

I knew about Simon and Garfunkel BEFORE I knew the Beatles or Michael Jackson (I didn't know about the Rolling Stones until I was 18!)

What I admired most about the duo was not just the marvelous melodies their songs were, but the amazing lyrics their songs had, and the way the melodies just went so sweetly together with the profound lyrics.

Case in point:

The sky is gray and white and cloudy,
Sometimes I think it's hanging down on me.
And it's a hitchhike a hundred miles.
I'm a rag-a-muffin child.
Pointed finger-painted smile.
I left my shadow waiting down the road for me a while.

That little bit was from Cloudy, and it remains one of the few songs I couldn't quite remember the lyrics to. And the best part was that these lyrics just weaved themselves seamlessly into the happy little ditty, making for a really memorable song you could never get out of your head.

Not convinced? Here's another song:

It's a still life water color,
Of a now late afternoon,
As the sun shines through the curtained lace
And shadows wash the room.
And we sit and drink our coffee
Couched in our indifference,
Like shells upon the shore
You can hear the ocean roar
In the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
The borders of our lives.

That was from The Dangling Conversation. Now, compare that to the 'I love you, you love me', 'I wanna die I wanna die I wanna die' lyrics of bands these days. I tell you, they just don't write lyrics like that anymore.

Anyway, It was nice to finally find someone who actually knew all their songs. I've never EVER met a friend who knew as many lyrics and songs by Simon and Garfunkel as I did, and it was fun actually seeing who could memorize the lyrics better.

Of course, that friend of mine HAD to make me insanely jealous by mentioning that she'd attended their concert in Central Park years ago. GAAAA!

For those who think that oldies are boring, go check out this duo's music. It will make you appreciate well-written lyrics that much more, AND get you singing along too.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite Simon & Garfunkel songs:
  • Scarborough Fair/Canticle: A dreamy, beautiful and haunting song, enhanced by an enchanting accompaniment and brilliant lyrics. I used to sing this together with my sister - she would do the accompaniment and I'd sing the normal verses.
  • The Sounds of Silence: Definitely one of S&G's best ever, the lyrics are great as usual, and the song itself as one of my favorite tunes ever. Again, I used to do the harmony with my sister, though it was never as good as S&G's.
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water: Another haunting song that I could never resist singing whenever I hear it. It's also Art Garfunkel's best vocal performance ever.
  • The Boxer: The 'Lai La Lai' part in the end used to drive me crazy because it would go on and on, and while singing along, you'd never know when it would end. I still can't figure it out, even now.
  • At The Zoo: As a kid, I spent hours trying to memorize the words for this song. What other song has insincere giraffes,
  • Cloudy: A trippy and happy little ditty that I could never get out of my head after I'd heard it. Still can't remember the lyrics though.
  • Wednesday Morning 3am: A sad little song about a man who has to leave his lover, and ends up committing a crime that only gets him 'twenty-five dollars, and pieces of silver'. Another example of Paul Simon's ability to weave stories and poetry into a song.
  • The 59th Street Bridge Song: One of the most cheerful tunes I have ever heard, and the only song I've ever heard someone say hello to a lamp-post. Check out the end bit of la-la-las.
  • Cecilia: One of their fastest songs, and I remember it mostly for one brilliant piece of lyric - Making love in the afternoon with Cecilia, Up in my bedroom. I got up to wash my face, When I come back to bed, Someone's taken my place.

And before anyone asks, no, I didn't forget Mrs. Robinson. I just don't like it as much as the other songs. :-)Now, to load the songs into my iPod Shuffle... All together now! - Slow down, you're moving too fast, you gotta make the moment last...

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