2020 Album Draft- Round 1- Pick 8 -Aphoristical selects- Simon and Garfunkel- Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.
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My parents owned a lot of music, but most of it was bagpipes or classical music they never actually listened to. Their one album that I did enjoy was a cassette of SImon and Garfunkel’s Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme – Simon & Garfunkel aren’t cool, except when the alternatives are Charley Pride and Nana Mouskouri, When I became interested in music at around 12 years old, this was my first album after I commandeered it.
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme shaped my taste in that it’s a very studio-based album. Simon and Garfunkel’s first album was straightforward trad-folk and their second was hastily slapped together to capitalise on the success of ‘The Sound of Silence’. For their third album, they were able to stretch out in the studio; Simon could add harpsichord to ‘Scarborough Fair/Canticle’ or bring in Dave Brubeck’s rhythm section for ’59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)’. This largely set the pattern for my music listening – I’m much more interested in studio creativity than in sweat-drenched live sets.
The best known songs are the strongest – ‘Scarborough Fair/Canticle’ interpolates the English folk song with ‘The Side of the Hill’, anti-war lyrics written by Simon and set to music by Garfunkel (earning a rare writing credit). ’59th Street Bridge Song’ has the great first line “Slow down you move too fast/you’ve got to make the morning last”. ‘Homeward Bound’ was written by Simon on Widnes station during a stint in the UK. There are some worthwhile deep cuts too – Garfunkel sweetly delivers ‘For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her’, while ‘Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall’ is pretty, low-key folkd-rock.
As much as I have a sentimental attachment to Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, it’s not a flawless classic – ‘Poem on an Underground Wall’ over-dramatises an act of graffiti (four letters!) into a dirge while ‘The Dangling Conversation’ goes where rock music usually fears to tread with its references to Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. ‘A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara’d into Submission)’ is fun, but it’s a dated period piece.
It’s not even Simon and Garfunkel’s best record, but there could have been far more embarrassing ways to launch a music collection than Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme.