Sunday, September 07, 2008

Album Of The Day #50: BOOKENDS- Simon & Garfunkel

For the fiftieth "Album Of The Day", I decided to do something special.

Title: Bookends
Artist: Simon & Garfunkel
Label: Columbia
Year: 1968
Songs: Bookends Theme/Save The Life Of My Child/America/Overs/Voices Of Old People*/Old Friends/Bookends Theme/Fakin' It/Punky's Dilemma/Mrs. Robinson/A Hazy Shade Of Winter/At The Zoo
Written by: Paul Simon, except *Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel
Produced by: Paul Simon, Arthur Garfunkel & Roy Halee
Thoughts: With just a twenty-nine minute running time, two minutes of it devoted to heart-wrenching accounts from "Voices Of Old People", Bookends is another album that continues to astound me. You can listen to it over and over again and something different is going to effect you, even though it's the same, forty year-old music. What makes the album great is that it features a perfect mix of political/social commentary ("America", "At The Zoo" and "Mrs. Robinson") and fun, humerus songs ("A Hazy Shade Of Winter" and "Punky's Dilemma"). The tracks that stick out to me on this album are the most obscure...the ones that didn't turn into monster hit singles. "Overs" is an amazing, quiet and unassuming track that is quite hard to understand. It could be taken as a social commentary, complaining about how we continue to be fooled, despite all the recent political activities coming to a head with all that had happened in 1968. However, it could also just be about a love affair gone bad. "Save The Life Of My Child" is also a very challenging number. It crashes onto the stereo, surprising us after the quiet half-minute instrumental version of the "Bookends Theme" that opens the album. We are told of a story of a child attempting suicide when his mother, the press and everyone else gets in the way. In a way, it helps to tell the hip, drugged-out listeners of this LP what it felt like on the other side of the mirror, where our parents feel we are committing suicide ("What's becoming of the children?/People asking each other"). Yet, all we really want to do is get away from the world ("When the spotlight hit the boy/The crowd began to cheer/He flew away"). On the second side, sandwiched between a hit parade, sits "Punky's Dilemma", a track about a man in the midst of an identity crisis. The lyrics make the track funny, but the subject is much deeper than just a way to reference boysenberry jam. So if you look at the track list and say, "But I've already heard seven of the twelve songs on here a thousand times, I don't need this," just think of what I told you that you'd be missing.
Rating: 10/10

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