I just finished reading Robert Hilburn’s excellent Paul Simon: A Life biography. A fine balance of his personal life and great analysis of his music. I have also been re- listening this past week to the Simon and Garfunkel and Paul Simon solo albums. Still have one Simon and Garfunkel album to go and a three Paul solo albums. No, I am passing on listening to Artie’s solo albums, I don’t even have one. No offense Artie. I saw Simon and Garfunkel in 1983 in concert. I am planning on seeing Paul on his farewell tour when he is near in September. Simon and Garfunkel made 5ive studio albums together. Since they broke up they have reunited many times for concerts and have released live albums but have never gotten together for another studio album–although they did do a new song together in the mid-70’s “My Little Town.” They were working on an album that became Paul Simon’s Hearts And Bones – but Paul felt the songs were too personal for Artie to sing on them so he erased his vocals. I was thinking what would be my Baker’s Dozen Simon and Garfunkel songs? Some good ones didn’t make the cut. So many of their songs are timeless. I watched Ken Burns Vietnam series last fall and they used several of the songs in the documentary- and those songs just sounded like songs that 50 years from now would still sound timely.
13- My Little Town– The song they did a few years after the break-up- it always reminded me of the area where I grew up in- a dying mill town.
12- April Come She Will– When I first heard this song in my early 20’s it hit home because I was going through a similar experience. The song clocked in at 1:51 but it still remains a very effective song. It was a perfect song for Artie to sing lead on.
11-Scarborough Fair/Canticle- A traditional English ballad covered by many others but no one will top this version. The b-side was April Come She Will – on the single. Reached #11 on the Hot 100.
10- The Only Living Boy In New York–The most underplayed great Simon and Garfunkel song? Written by Paul when Art left for New Mexico to shoot a movie.
9- I Am A Rock- Their 3rd hit after The Sound of Silence and Homeward Bound. A song of loneliness, isolation and detachment. #3 on the US Hot 100.
8- Kathy’s Song- One of the early Paul Simon classics inspired by his then girlfriend Kathy Chitty who he met when he was living in England in the mid-60’s.
7-Old Friends/Bookends- Paul Simon wrote this in his mid-20s. Great line ” How terribly strange to be seventy” How quickly the time does go.. a blink of an eye it seems.
6- Homeward Bound–Another song inspired by Kathy Chitty in England but it could be about missing anyone or any place- while you are out on the road. #5 hit in the US.
5- Mrs. Robinson– “Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio?” I first loved this song because I am a baseball fanatic and it mentioned the great Joe D. Of course DiMaggio was confused by it- he hadn’t gone anywhere. One of the great songs from a movie- written for The Graduate one of 1968’s great movies.
4- Bridge Over Troubled Water — In 100 years if the world is still here- this song will be one of the songs from the era that survives. The only problem I have with it is the record is a bit overproduced. I have read that Paul Simon at times regrets that he gave this song to Artie to sing instead of keeping it for himself. He did the right thing- Garfunkel gives the performance of his life here.
3- The Sound Of Silence– A perfect soundtrack for America in the mid-60’s- and it is one of those timeless Paul Simon songs that fits into any time and era. The first great song he wrote. The other night CNN started a four part special on 1968 what song did they play in the opening segment? Simon and Garfunkel performing The Sound Of Silence in a tv show from early January of 1968.
2- America– I have made a number of cross country trips across America over the years but the first time was in hearing this song. I felt like I was on the trip with them. I never have been able to find a Mrs. Wagner pie though.
1- The Boxer– The Sound of Silence, Mrs. Robinson and Bridge Over Troubled Water are without question the most famous Simon and Garfunkel songs- and all three are great without question but The Boxer is my favorite- a song of poverty, loneliness and despair.