Tag Archives: Simon & Garfunkel

Simon Garfunkel Bookends

Simon Garfunkel Bookends

Billboard #1 album May 25, 1968
“Bookends Theme”
Simon Garfunkel Boodends
photo: Michael Ochs Archives
By the spring of 1968 we had had the groundbreaking albums Rubber SoulPet Soundsand Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club BandThe acceptance that an album did not have to be a collection of singles had allowed artists to present a set of songs as pieces of a whole. In fact, Sgt Pepper's didn't even have a "single" on it.

For we late-teen Boomers, Bookends opened with the worrisome lines:
Time it was 
 And what a time it was, it was 
 A time of innocence 
 A time of confidences

Long ago it must be 
 I have a photograph 
 Preserve your memories 
 They're all that's left you.
As the emerging adults in a society teeming with counter-cultural prospects, we "thought" we understood the lyrics' nostalgia.

Of course in 1968 we had no idea how intense nostalgia could actually be decades later. How was 28-year-old Paul Simon so perspicacious? 

Simon and Garfunkel did not record the album as a unified whole.  Some of side two's songs evolved out of their work for the film The GraduateThat soundtrack album, released January 21, 1968,  had reached Billboard's #1 album spot on April 6, 1968 and stayed there for six weeks. The Bookends album followed it for three weeks followed by The Graduate again for two weeks followed again by Bookends for four weeks. Simon and Garfunkel were trending!

Despite the recording schedule's discontinuity, the album smoothly runs along its side one and again along side two. How many of us who first knew the album as a vinyl record know long before side one ends that we have to get up to flip the record?
And there are so many wonderful hooks and salients along the way. That soft 33-second acoustic opening pierced by the sharp beginning of "Save the  Life of My Child." Hand-clapping. Background chorus. Conversational talk. A flashback to "Sounds of Silence."

Following the lesson of segueing songs, "America" softly enters. Images we still hold close. Cigarettes. Magazines. Rising moon. The New Jersey Turnpike. And not a rhyme. We've gone from childhood to hitting the road.

A match lights a cigarette. Exhale. The game is over. We've heard rumblings of a Beatle-break up. Is this other Paul hinting? In any case, we've learned about love from the other side. "Overs."

Upon your first listen,  did "Voices" confuse you? Who are these people? Not a song, no lyrics, but a sad short story. "And I maintain, I maintain strongly to this minute, I don't think it's an ordinary cold." And if that wasn't enough, we "Old Friends" end side one sitting on a park bench, newspapers blowing, lost in our overcoats.
           Flip the record. Please!

Simon Garfunkel Bookends

Side two opens with music that sounds like the end of something. "Fakin' It." If side one was from cradle to grave, Side two talks about hypocrisy and struggling to get by. Playing roles and wondering why. "I'm not really makin' it" sound like the end of "I Am the Walrus."

"Wish I was a Kellogg's corn flake" is "Punky's Dilemma." That and being a "Citizen of boysenberry jam fan." The struggle continues and includes falling down the basement stairs.
We all know "Mrs Robinson." We've all seen Mrs Robinson and maybe, like Dustin Hoffman, falling a bit in lust with her. When opportunity knocks, eh? "We'd like to know a little about you for our files." Are those eyes really sympathetic? And where did you go, Joltin' Joe?  In 1969, "Mrs Robinson" became the first rock song to win the  Grammy Award for Record of the Year. 

The worried pessimism continues as we skip into a "Hazy Shade of Winter" with its leaves of brown and the sound of the Salvation band.  Ha!

 Paul Simon, the New York kid, the only living boy in New York, closes with "At the Zoo." We didn't know those animals felt that way. Now we do and wonder about the others.

Thom Jureck's All Music review closed this way:  In just over 29 minutes, Bookends is stunning in its vision of a bewildered America in search of itself.

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Monday 19 October

emma goldman 1890October 19, 1890, Anarchism in the US and Emma Goldman :  Goldman (age 21) spoke in Baltimore to members of the International Working People's Association in the afternoon. She later spoke in German to the Workers' Educational Society at Canmakers' Hall. Michael Cohn and William Harvey also speak. This is the first lecture by Goldman to be reported in the mainstream press.

lucy burnsOctober 1917, Feminism & Voting Rights: Lucy Burns, inspired by several Socialist Party suffrage prisoners, led a campaign in prison demanding suffragists be treated as political prisoners; she threatened a hunger strike if the demand was not met. The petition was secretly circulated among inmates, smuggled out, and presented to commissioners of District of Columbia. Every woman signing petition put in solitary confinement.


in October 1926, Anarchism in the US and Emma Goldman: after being deported to Russia in 1919 (and becoming disillusioned there) Goldman moved to Great Britain  and later marrying a British citizen, With British citizenship, Goldman sailed for Canada to lecture; its proximity to the US rekindled her hope for readmission to the U.S.


MLK arrestedOctober 19, 1960, BLACK HISTORY &  MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: King was arrested along with students, eventually numbering 280, after conducting mass sit-ins at Rich’s Department Store and other Atlanta stores. The others were freed, but the judge sentenced King to four months in prison. Legal efforts secured his release after eight days. A boycott of the store followed, and by the fall of 1961, Rich’s began to desegregate.


wed am s & G

October 19, 1964: Simon & Garfunkel released Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. Initially a flop, but after release of their second album, Sounds of Silence in 1966, it hit #30 on the Billboard charts.

October 19, 1969, Vietnam: Vice President Spiro T. Agnew referred to anti-Vietnam War protesters "an effete corps of impudent snobs."


October 19, 1973: after President Nixon requested Congress appropriate $2.2 billion in emergency aid for Israel,  Libya, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states proclaim an embargo on oil exports to the United States.


An Iranian command and control platform is set afire after being shelled by four US Navy destroyers. The shelling is a response to a recent Iranian missile attack on a reflagged Kuwaiti super tanker.

October 19, 1987, TERRORISM: two U.S. warships shelled an Iranian oil platform in the Persian Gulf in response to Iran's Silkworm missile attack on the U.S. flagged ship MV Sea Isle City. (click → NYT article)


October 19, 2009, Marijuana:  the Department of Justice issued a memo, known subsequently as the Ogden memo, to "provide clarification and guidance to federal prosecutors in States that have enacted laws authorizing the medical use of marijuana."  In an effort to make the most efficient use of limited resources, the DOJ announced that prosecutorial priorities should not target "individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana." Specifically, individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use medical marijuana and the caregivers who provide the medical marijuana in accordance with state law should not be the focus of federal prosecution. The memo clarified that "prosecution of commercial enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana for profit continues to be an enforcement priority." It is also explicitly stated that the memo "does not 'legalize' marijuana or provide a legal defense to a violation of federal law." (click → NYT article)


October 19, 2010, LGBT: US Federal Judge struck down the appeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell by the Department of Justice. The US Military begins accepting applications for gay service members. Don't ask, don't tell temporarily ends. (click → NYT article)
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