Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Album of the Day #144: Parsely, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme - Simon & Garfunkel

Artist: Simon & Garfunkel
Label: Columbia
Songs: Scarborough Fair/Canticle/Patters/Cloudy/Homeward Bound/The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine/The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Goovy)/The Dangling Conversation/Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall/A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd Into Submission)/For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her/A Poem On The Underground Wall/7 O'Clock News/Silent Night
Written by: Paul Simon; "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" arranged by Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel; "Silent Night", public domain
Produced by: Bob Johnston
Thoughts: It's very rare that you can call an album outright beautiful from start to finish. I remember the first time I heard this album and it was like hearing some of the most achingly beautiful songs ever written. The album starts with the haunting harmony exercise "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" that just wakes you up, drawing you in. "Are you going to Scarborough Fair?" Hell, yes.
"Patterns" and "Cloudy" are a duo of songs that pound on you, all building up to the first single, the wonderful "Homeward Bound". After a few surrealist lyrics, Paul asks us to come home with him, but first we have to take a detour. "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine", forshadowing the hilarious lyrics of "Baby Driver", blows up onto the stereo, flowing to "The 59th Street Bridge Song". Easily one of S&G's more famous tracks, the song is a drastic departure from the track that will end side two.
"The Dangling Conversation", another single, opens the second side. It has this beautiful melody and uncomfortable lyrics about a couple having no relation to each other: "Like a poem poorly written/We are verses out of rhym/Couplets out of rhyme/In suncopated time". On top of that, there is no resolution in the song - the narrator tells his lover "You are a stranger unto me." "Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall" is quick, leading into Simon's rediculous "A Simple Desultory Philippic", which, though fun, is easily the worse track on the record, as it's just him name-calling popular culture of 1967.
"For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her" is just amazing. When I said this album is outright beautiful, this is really what I'm talking about. I mean, Garfunkel sings like his life is on the line and he just belts out some of the most heartbreaking lyrics Simon ever wrote. "A Poem On The Underground World" is like "Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall", but a little quicker and a more interesting theme. The album ends with the almost torturous look at the tumultuous year of 1967, prior to the full-blown insanity of 1968, called "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night", where S&G harmonize the classic Christmas song over a news reporter reading headlines.
In the end, this is one of the best records from 1967 and probably from that entire decade and the whole thing is barely thrity minutes....

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