♫ Homeward Bound ♫

I really thought I had played this one before, but a trip into the archives tells me I haven’t.  This may not be the best quality sound, but it is from a live concert they did in Central Park, and I like seeing them up close and personal, rather than just the song playing and a photo of an album cover to look at. 

Paul Simon lived in Brentwood, Essex, England when he wrote this song. When traveling back from Wigan, where he was playing, he got stuck at the train station and wrote this. The song has a double meaning: literally, wanting for a ticket home to Brentwood, but on the other hand, yearning to go to his home in the US.  Says Simon …

“That was written in Liverpool when I was traveling. What I like about that is that it has a very clear memory of Liverpool station and the streets of Liverpool and the club I played at and me at age 22. It’s like a snapshot, a photograph of a long time ago. I like that about it but I don’t like the song that much. First of all, it’s not an original title. That’s one of the main problems with it. It’s been around forever. No, the early songs I can’t say I really like them. But there’s something naive and sweet-natured and I must say I like that about it. They’re not angry. And that means that I wasn’t angry or unhappy. And that’s my memory of that time: it was just about idyllic. It was just the best time of my life, I think, up until recently, these last five years or so, six years… This has been the best time of my life. But before that, I would say that that was.”

The song was released as a single on January 19, 1966 by Columbia Records, and also appears on the duo’s third studio album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme from the same year, although it was recorded during the sessions for their second album Sounds of Silence and included on that album in the UK.

The song performed very well in the U.S., peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the charts for 12 weeks. Internationally, the song performed best in Canada, where it hit #2; it was also a top five hit in the Netherlands, and hit #9 in the UK.

Homeward Bound
Simon & Garfunkel

I’m sittin’ in the railway station
Got a ticket to my destination
On a tour of one-night stands
My suitcase and guitar in hand
And every stop is neatly planned
For a poet and a one-man band

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home where my thought’s escapin’
Home where my music’s playin’
Home where my love lies waitin’
Silently for me

Every day’s an endless stream
Of cigarettes and magazines
And each town looks the same to me
The movies and the factories
And every stranger’s face I see
Reminds me that I long to be

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home where my thought’s escapin’
Home where my music’s playin’
Home where my love lies waitin’
Silently for me

Tonight I’ll sing my songs again
I’ll play the game and pretend
But all my words come back to me
In shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony
I need someone to comfort me

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home where my thought’s escapin’
Home where my music’s playin’
Home where my love lies waitin’
Silently for me
Silently for me

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Paul Simon
Homeward Bound lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ Sound of Silence ♫

I have played this one before, but it’s been over a year so I’m playing it again.  There is a reason that this one seems appropriate at this time.  A couple of reasons, maybe.  First, the noise of late has been deafening.  I’m talking about the situation here in the U.S.  We have mega fights on three fronts taking place simultaneously:  the November election, the confirmation process for the next Supreme Court justice, and the pandemic.  All three are highly contentious and it feels like there are many key players screeching like banshees.  The next two weeks promise to turn into sheer bedlam.  I, who am nearly deaf anyway, find the slightest noise has become annoying … a car revving its engine, a toilet flushing, the washing machine spinning make me want to scream “shut up!!!”  And so it came to me … I long for the sound of silence.

This song has an interesting history that I wasn’t aware of until tonight, because the last time I played it, I did not include any background trivia.

The song was written by Paul Simon over several months in 1963 and 1964. A studio audition led to the duo signing a record deal with Columbia Records, and the original ‘acoustic’ version of the song was recorded in March 1964 at Columbia Studios in New York City and included on their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.. Released on October 19, 1964, the album was a commercial failure and led to the duo disbanding; Simon returned to England, and Art Garfunkel to his studies at Columbia University.

In 1965, the song began to attract airplay at radio stations in Boston, Massachusetts, and throughout Florida. The growing airplay led Tom Wilson, the song’s producer, to remix the track, overdubbing electric instruments and drums. This remixed version was released as a single in September 1965. Simon & Garfunkel were not informed of the song’s remix until after its release!

Sounds like grounds for a lawsuit to me, but then … the song hit #1 in late December, so who can complain, right?  Simon & Garfunkel reunited and hastily recorded their second album, which Columbia titled Sounds of Silence in an attempt to capitalize on the song’s success. The remixed single version of the song was included on this follow-up album.

Paul Simon was often compared to Bob Dylan, who was also signed to Columbia Records, and while Simon has acknowledged Dylan’s influence on The Sound Of Silence, he was never trying to measure up to Dylan.  Simon says …

“I tried very hard not to be influenced by him, and that was hard. ‘The Sound Of Silence’, which I wrote when I was 21, I never would have wrote it were it not for Bob Dylan. Never, he was the first guy to come along in a serious way that wasn’t a teen language song. I saw him as a major guy whose work I didn’t want to imitate in the least.”

There is quite a bit more info about this song on Wikipedia and Songfacts, if you’re interested.  Meanwhile …

The Sound of Silence
Simon & Garfunkel
Produced by Tom Wilson

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by
The flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said:
“The words of the prophets are
Written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.”

Songwriters: Paul Simon
The Sound of Silence lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ The Boxer ♫

In the two years I’ve been doing these music posts, I’ve only played three by Simon & Garfunkel, so it’s about time for another, don’t you think?

Released in 1969, this song hit #1 in Canada, #6 in the UK, and #7 in the U.S.

In a 1984 interview, Paul Simon said that he wrote this song when critics were writing harsh things about his music – he was the boxer. Said Simon …

“I think the song was about me: everybody’s beating me up, and I’m telling you now I’m going to go away if you don’t stop. By that time we had encountered our first criticism. For the first few years, it was just pure praise. It took two or three years for people to realize that we weren’t strange creatures that emerged from England but just two guys from Queens who used to sing rock’n’roll. And maybe we weren’t real folkies at all! Maybe we weren’t even hippies!” 

This song took over 100 hours to record, with parts of it done at Columbia Records studios in both Nashville and New York City. The chorus vocals were recorded in a church: St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University in New York. The church had a tiled dome that provided great acoustics.

Sometimes what is put in as a placeholder lyric becomes a crucial part of the song. That was the case here, as Simon used “Lie la lie” in place of a proper chorus because he couldn’t find the right words.

“I thought that ‘lie la lie was a failure of songwriting. I didn’t have any words! Then people said it was ‘lie’ but I didn’t really mean that. That it was a lie. But, it’s not a failure of songwriting, because people like that and they put enough meaning into it, and the rest of the song has enough power and emotion, I guess, to make it go, so it’s all right. But for me, every time I sing that part, I’m a little embarrassed.”

During a New York City concert in October 2010, Paul Simon stopped singing midway through The Boxer to tell the story of a woman who stopped him on the street to tell him that she edits the song when singing it to her young child. Simon told the audience that she removed the words “the whores” and altered the song to say, “I get no offers, just a come-on from toy stores on Seventh Avenue.” Simon laughingly commented that he felt that it was “a better line.”

box of tissuesOn 3 June 2016 at his concert in Berkeley, California, Paul Simon again stopped singing partway through The Boxer, this time to announce in one sentence breaking news: “I’m sorry to tell you this in this way, but Muhammad Ali passed away.” He then finished the song with the last verse modified as: “In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade…”  

 

The Boxer
Simon & Garfunkel

I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station
Running scared,
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places
Only they would know

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Asking only workman’s wages
I come looking for a job
But I get no offers
Just a come-on from the whores
On Seventh Avenue
I do declare
There were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there, le le le le le le le

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Then I’m laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone
Going home
Where the New York City winters
Aren’t bleeding me
Leading me
Going home

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains, mmm mmm

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Paul Simon
The Boxer lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music Inc

 

♫ Bridge Over Troubled Water ♫ (Redux)

I played this one back in 2018, but … it just seems so appropriate for the current times that I’m playing it again …


Did you know that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel met in grade school when they both appeared in a production of Alice in Wonderland. Paul was the White Rabbit and Art was the Cheshire Cat.  They began recording together in high school as Tom and Jerry — yes, as in the cartoon cat and mouse.

Simon and Garfunkel split up in 1970, and Garfunkel went on to become a math teacher at a private school in Connecticut.

The album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, was the last the duo recorded together before their breakup, and it remains, to this day, the biggest selling album ever for Columbia Records.  Paul wrote the title song, although Art Garfunkel sang it alone.  It was one of the few songs to top the US and UK charts at the same time. It was #1 in the US for six weeks, #1 in the UK for three.

In 1971, this won five Grammy Awards: Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Contemporary Song, Best Engineered Record, and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists. The album also won Album of the Year.  Just about everybody and their brother has tried to jump on this bandwagon with a recording of their own, including Elvis Presley, Mary Blige & Andrea Bocelli, and Aretha Franklin.

In June 2017, a charity version was recorded by Artists For Grenville, a group comprising 50 well-known British vocalists and musicians. They were collected together by Simon Cowell to record a charity single to raise money for the families of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017. The song immediately climbed to #1 on the UK singles chart.

Bridge over Troubled Water
Simon & Garfunkel

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all (all)
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you (ooo)
I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Songwriters: Paul Simon
Bridge over Troubled Water lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ Sounds of Silence ♫

I have the sounds of booming fireworks reverberating through my head and chest … hours and hours they boomed here in da hood.  What is wrong with people?  1:00 a.m., and still they are booming.  Silence.  All I ask for is a bit of silence.  And then it hits me … Echo, the sounds of silence … where have I heard that before???  Ahhhh … the  💡 comes on … Simon & Garfunkel, circa 1965.  I first played this song almost exactly a year ago, July 18, 2018.  Perhaps this should be my forever July 4th song, yes?  Apologies that I have no trivia to accompany tonights selection, but … it is late, I am exhausted, and my bed is calling.

The Sound of Silence
Simon & Garfunkel
Produced by Tom Wilson

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by
The flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said:
“The words of the prophets are
Written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.”

Songwriters: Paul Simon
The Sound of Silence lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ When A Man Loves A Woman ♫

cute-beeSomething I wrote either last night or the night before about the song of the day made reference to Percy Sledge, and hence … I’ve had this song buzzing around in my head like a bee in a field of clover.

There are a couple of interesting things in the backstory to this song.  First, this song is a huge part of music history, as it is the first #1 Hot 100 hit recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones and many other famous musicians would later record some of their classic songs.

Second, is the dispute over who actually wrote the song.  Percy Sledge claims that he actually wrote the song one night when he was so upset over a woman that, while performing with The Esquires Combo, he was overcome with emotion and asked the band to play a slow blues backing – any key, their choice – to which he could sing.  The band started to play and Sledge vented in song for about six minutes.

In Sledge’s story, Quin Ivy was at the show and approached the band about polishing the song and recording it. Sledge says he worked on the lyrics with Lewis and Wright, and recorded it at Norala Sound with Ivy producing …

“When I wrote the song at first, it was called ‘Why Did You Leave Me Baby.’ And I changed it from that to ‘When a Man Loves a Woman.’ I just reversed it. Quin told me that if I was to write some lyrics around that melody and the expression I’d put into ‘Why Did You Leave Me Baby,’ he believed it would’ve been a hit record. He was one of the top disc jockeys at that time. Sure enough, he asked me if I had any lyrics for that. He said, “That’s it! Write a story around that title! What a song that would be with that feeling you had!” It was a song that was meant to be. It wasn’t just what I had done; it was the musicians, the producer, the background singers, the right time.”

But, according to Andrew Wright …

“We were set to play a Friday night dance, and we were practicing … I was messing around on the organ when this riff came up out of nowhere. There was no one in the club but us. I told Calvin to go home and write some words.”

According to SongFacts …

In Sledge’s version of the story, he co-wrote the song with his bandmates Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright, but let them have sole composer credits, since they gave him the opportunity to sing his heart out. Whether Sledge was acting out of the goodness of his heart or had nothing to do with writing the song is a matter of debate, but the writing credit had huge implications, resulting in a windfall for Lewis and Wright, who get the royalties every time it is played. Since the song went on to be covered by many artists, they get paid for those as well. If it was a goodwill gesture by Sledge, it cost him millions of dollars.

Who knows?  Percy Sledge died in April 2015, at the age of 73, so we will likely never know quite how this song came to be.  It was later recorded by Michael Bolton, among others, but I remain partial to the Percy Sledge version.

When a Man Loves a Woman
Percy Sledge

When a man loves a woman
Can’t keep his mind on nothing else
He’ll trade the world
For the good thing he’s found
If she’s bad he can’t see it
She can do no wrong
Turn his back on his best friend
If he put her down

When a man loves a woman
Spend his very last dime
Trying to hold on to what he needs
He’d give up all his comfort
Sleep out in the rain
If she said that’s the way it ought to be

Well, this man loves a woman
I gave you everything I had
Trying to hold on to your precious love
Baby, please don’t treat me bad

When a man loves a woman
Down deep in his soul
She can bring him such misery
If she plays him for a fool
He’s the last one to know
Loving eyes can’t ever see

When a man loves a woman
He can do no wrong
He can never own some other girl
Yes when a man loves a woman
I know exactly how he feels
‘Cause baby, baby, baby, you’re my world

When a man loves a woman

Songwriters: Andrew James Wright / Calvin Houston Lewis
When a Man Loves a Woman lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

♫ Scarborough Fair ♫

In the last week or so, daughter Chris who is a lover of all things British, discovered a new television show to love called “Rosemary & Thyme”.  It’s fairly interesting, actually, about two middle-aged British women playing detective and solving murders every week.  I jokingly refer to the title of the show as “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme”, ala the song Scarborough Fair by Simon and Garfunkel.  And as payback for my humour, I have had this song looping through my head for two days now, so in a ritual of exorcism, I am sharing it here with you!

Scarborough is a small town on the coast of England. The “Scarborough Fair” was a popular gathering in Medieval times, attracting traders and entertainers from all over the country. The fair lasted 45 days and started every August 15th. In the 1600s, mineral waters were found in Scarborough and it became a resort town. Today, Scarborough is a quiet town with a rich history.

In Medieval England, this became a popular folk song as Bards would sing it when they traveled from town to town. The author of the song is unknown, and many different versions exist. The traditional version has many more lyrics.  Paul Simon learned about this song when he was on tour in England, where he heard a version by a popular folk singer named Martin Carthy. When Carthy heard Simon & Garfunkel’s rendition, he accused Simon of stealing his arrangement. Carthy and Simon did not speak until 2000, when Simon asked Carthy to perform this with him at a show in London. Carthy put his differences aside and did the show.

The lyrics are about a man trying to attain his true love. In Medieval times, the herbs mentioned in the song represented virtues that were important to the lyrics. Parsley was comfort, sage was strength, rosemary was love, and thyme was courage.

Scarborough Fair
Simon & Garfunkel

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
For once she was a true love of mine

Have her make me a cambric shirt
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Without no seam nor fine needle work
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

Tell her to weave it in a sycamore wood lane
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
And gather it all with a basket of flowers
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

Have her wash it in yonder dry well
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
where water ne’er sprung nor drop of rain fell
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

Have her find me an acre of land
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Between the sea foam and over the sand
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

Plow the land with the horn of a lamb
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Then sow some seeds from north of the dam
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

Tell her to reap it with a sickle of leather
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
And gather it all in a bunch of heather
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

If she tells me she can’t, I’ll reply
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Let me know that at least she will try
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

Love imposes impossible tasks
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Though not more than any heart asks
And I must know she’s a true love of mine

Dear, when thou has finished thy task
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Come to me, my hand for to ask
For thou then art a true love of mine

Songwriters: Arthur Garfunkel / Paul Simon
Scarborough Fair lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ Bridge Over Troubled Water ♫

Did you know that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel met in grade school when they both appeared in a production of Alice in Wonderland. Paul was the White Rabbit and Art was the Cheshire Cat.  They began recording together in high school as Tom and Jerry — yes, as in the cartoon cat and mouse.

Simon and Garfunkel split up in 1970, and Garfunkel went on to become a math teacher at a private school in Connecticut.

The album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, was the last the duo recorded together before their breakup, and it remains, to this day, the biggest selling album ever for Columbia Records.  Paul wrote the title song, although Art Garfunkel sang it alone.  It was one of the few songs to top the US and UK charts at the same time. It was #1 in the US for six weeks, #1 in the UK for three.

In 1971, this won five Grammy Awards: Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Contemporary Song, Best Engineered Record, and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists. The album also won Album of the Year.  Just about everybody and their brother has tried to jump on this bandwagon with a recording of their own, including Elvis Presley, Mary Blige & Andrea Bocelli, and Aretha Franklin.

In June 2017, a charity version was recorded by Artists For Grenville, a group comprising 50 well-known British vocalists and musicians. They were collected together by Simon Cowell to record a charity single to raise money for the families of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017. The song immediately climbed to #1 on the UK singles chart.

Bridge over Troubled Water
Simon & Garfunkel

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all (all)
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you (ooo)
I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Songwriters: Paul Simon
Bridge over Troubled Water lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Sounds of Silence

In a comment earlier this evening, Keith happened to mention Simon & Garfunkel, and immediately this song came to mind … and stayed … and stayed … and so, I am sharing this one with you, dear friends …

The Sound of Silence
Simon & Garfunkel
Produced by Tom Wilson

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by
The flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said:
“The words of the prophets are
Written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.”