When I was a small boy, my family would take Sunday drives and we would inevitably listen to either Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits or the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack on our little treks around town. If I had a choice, I always picked Simon and Garfunkel. I didn’t know what folk music was. I didn’t understand the melodies or even the simplicity of two-part harmony and an acoustic guitar. I just liked the songs.
I was watching my copy of the Simon and Garfunkel Old Friends DVD not too long ago and I was struck how the lyrics of these songs I grew up with have started to resonate with me at such a late date. Perhaps I simply needed to do a bit of living myself first or have a few heartbreaking moments for the tumblers to click. Case in point, “Leaves That Are Green” has this gem:
Once my heart was filled with the love of a girl
I held her close, but she faded in the night
Like a poem I meant to write
And the leaves that are green turned to brown
And they wither with the wind
And they crumble in your hand
I hadn’t heard that particular song before, but the lyrics had so much meaning for me personally. Of course, I immediately thought of past girlfriends. “I am a Rock” tells the story better:
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock
I am an island
And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries.
I was savvy enough in my younger days to get the analogy there, but substitute writing with poetry and you have a pretty picture of my feelings today. Moreover, I was surprised at the lyrics for “American Tune” affecting me as strongly as it did when I heard it on the DVD. It starts off with:
Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
It’s such a lovely melody and the song just flows when Art Garfunkel sings it. I’m smart enough to see the universal themes in the music and the lyrics, but good writing has the strength to mean the same thing and several things to a wide audience. I have no idea how you view the lyrics, but to me it speaks of my past relationships, choices and events.
Finally with all this time since Christmas hyper-focused on finding a new job and having something just out of reach, I was smiling at the familiar “Slip Slidin’ Away” telling me:
You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip slidin’ away
There’s more if I look deep enough. More to make me happy or sad, wistful or hopeful. I’m sure I could have done the same thing with Lennon/McCartney songs. However, today it was a Paul Simon kind of mood and it’s late in the evening and the music’s seeping through.