Monday, July 31, 2006

SIMON & GARFUNKEL "Sounds Of Silence" LP (Columbia , 1966)

SIMON & GARFUNKEL hanno creato , a mio avviso , alcune delle più belle canzoni dell'intera storia del rock. Amo le loro melodie cristalline , che alle volte assumono una loro aerea trasparenza , una levità quasi "metafisica", mi si passi il termine. Voilà questa bella recensione (dove mi è molto piaciuta l'analisi testuale )di questo meraviglioso classico del folk rock gentilmente concessami da Matthew Goulding (Lincoln, UK). Grazie Matthew.
Allegata le cover dell'album , del 45 ed. danese e di un raro 4 track ep , edizione australiana.

After Dylan and the Byrds had ushered in folk rock in 1965, Simon and Garfunkel’s acoustic version of “The Sound of Silence” was remoulded into an electric classic.
So successful was this exercise that the single topped the US charts and pointed the duo in a new exciting direction.

Thus their second album was a huge improvement on Wednesday Morning, 3am, whose strong religious core had proved a little restrictive. Here, Paul Simon has a freer role and often uses vivid imagery to beautify his emotional lyrics. The most striking example of this is “I am a Rock”. Opening on a dark snowy December day, the dramatic lyric details a bitter loneliness caused by past hurt – “I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died, if I never loved I never would have cried.”
The defiant reclusive stance is emphasised by the castle type strength of the bubble around the narrator – “I’ve built walls, a fortress deep and mighty, that none may penetrate”, “I am shielded in my armour”. Finally the inevitable emotional starvation is echoed by the harrowing closing lines – “And a rock feels no pain and an island never cries.” Lost love is viewed through a more childlike lens for “Leaves That Are Green”.
A chirpy organ salvo begins the track and what sounds like a toy train chugs away in the background throughout the song! The lyric too is fairly drifty, one minute talking about the autumn leaves and silent brooks and just slipping in the mention of a failed relationship along the way!
The “c’est la vie” stance of “Leaves that are Green” is summed up in the final verse – “Hello, hello, hello, hello, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, that’s all there is and the leaves that are green turn to brown”.
“April Come She Will” also uses the seasons to represent a passing romance. An intelligently crisp track, “April Come She Will” reached a deserved wider audience, when it was worked nicely into the soundtrack of “The Graduate”. Strangely the most heartbreaking track on the album – “Kathy’s Song” – is set within a current loving relationship.
However, the narrator’s homesickness is beautifully framed using the drizzling rain as both a romantic and wistful image. A similar atmosphere had been created in the previous album’s “Wednesday Morning, 3am”, but unlike the remake of the title track, “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me” was a dreadful electric rehash, which totally destroyed the poignant original. “We’ve Got a Groovy Thing Goin’” was much better, a light jazzy slice of fun providing a nice breather after two dark tales of suicide. The vibrant “Richard Cory” tells the tale of a wealthy famous playboy from the viewpoint of one of his poor and intensely jealous factory workers. However, his jealousy soon turns to morbid delight, when Cory shoots himself in a fit of depression.
Apart from the death, the emotional circumstances of both men are fairly disturbing. The glitzy, showbiz lifestyle ultimately proves fatally hollow, while the tedious poverty stricken existence forces a joyous celebration of the death of your master, much like the carnival style celebrations at mediaeval hangings. Quite chilling, really.
By comparison, “A Most Peculiar Man” simply details the lonely suicide of a socially awkward man who “lived all alone, within a house, within a room, within himself.” So little was known about the man in question, that it’s quite hard to feel sorry for him, unlike the similar recluse of “I am a Rock”, who had clearly suffered crushing romantic disappointment in the past.
Finally, “Blessed” sounds like a leftover from their previous religiously flavoured album. However, with its angry arrangement and bitter lyrics, Simon doesn’t simply accept God’s greatness like he used to, but seriously questions the work of the Lord and his apparent desertion in his life. Although, several questions are left unanswered, the final line of “I have tended my own garden much too long” hints that a selfish lack of sharing might be the root cause of the problem. Although “Blessed” seems like the only really bitter track on a fresh sounding album, there are plenty of jagged lyrics throughout. “Silence like a cancer grows”, “My words trickle down like a wound that I have no intention to heal”, “August die she must”, “Richard Cory went home last night and put a bullet through his head”, “he turned on the gas and he went to sleep with the windows closed so he’d never wake up”. It seems strange that such an attractive album can be filled with so much lyrical black ice. However, Paul Simon is the master of listenable discomfort and Sounds of Silence vividly shows exactly how he manages it.

(Lincoln, UK)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9:35 PM  
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8:20 PM  
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12:40 AM  

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