Of Silence has the most songs I actually tolerate, but it's not
my favorite. Still, this is a great album, with a lot of great stuff on
it. This album and the next really capture what S&G were all about.
To me, this is the album where we get to hear Paul spill the complete truth
about the nature of life and humanity. There's young rebellion, there's
questioning of social structures, there's quiet observation and social
commentary, and there's love. It's S&G at their most classic, and Paul
at his (young) best.
Sound Of Silence" isn't the original album cut from Wednesday
Morning, 3 a.m.; it's the "rockified" version that was released as
a single with drums and electric guitar added. I prefer the earlier version,
but either way, more than any other song, "The Sound Of Silence" captures
the essence of S&G. It has everything we've comes to associate with
their style, all the things that make the S&G spirit and sound what
they are. "I
Am A Rock" is another classic; everyone's been there. It's one of the hallmarks of the album.
They didn't really do lovey-dovey
songs very often, but "Kathy's
Song" is a nice one. Some beautiful imagery
in here; I like how the rain is carried all the way through, from "I hear
the drizzle of the rain" at the beginning, all the way to the metaphor
comparing the rain and himself in the last verse.
Two years later,
side one of Bookends would take the idea of being thematic on an
album to a whole new level, but there's a little bit of musical thematic
consistency on this album, thanks to "Anji." Their only instrumental, and a song I happen to love, it's mellow and fun
and a nice change. Part of the melody towards the middle of the piece is
identical to that of another piece on the album, "We've Got A Groovy Thing
Goin'," and the first few measures are the same as those from the previous
track, "Somewhere They Can't Find Me," another track worthy of note. In
some ways, "Somewhere They
Can't Find Me" is a sequel to "Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m.," and in other
ways, it's just a remake. A lot of the lyrics are similar, and in some
spots they're even identical. It's a different take on the situation with
a very different feel, focusing more on the escape ahead rather than the
girl he's about to leave behind.
I was an English
major in college, which means I get to rant at length about the American-poetry-inspired
Cory." It's based on a poem
of the same name written by Edwin Arlington Robinson, and to me, the song
gives the poem more meaning. There's more going on here than one of Cory's
peons wanting what Cory has materially. The song would have worked just
fine, both musically and logically, had it cut off after the last verse
and not gone into a final repeat of the chorus, but with that final chorus,
I read it as the narrator saying that he'd like to put a bullet through
his head too. Graphic? Maybe, but I think that's what Paul was trying to
make us believe about the narrator.
Notes on the
expanded edition bonus tracks:
is interesting; I once read the original English folk ballad version of
it, and hearing Simon and Garfunkel sing it with just the guitar backing
them is sort of what I imagine it would be like to hear a real traveling
Gambler" is also of note, if only for the fact that you hear them mix
up some lines in verse four and cover for it by mumbling the middle of
verse five. One of them remarks, after verse six, "Brakes on for Atlanta,"
referring to the previous verse's mention of Georgia. I just think the
comment is kind of amusing.
Overall, 4 out of 5 stars. This is
good stuff. Paul's writing matured later in their career, but this is S&G
as they were after the heavy folk influence, but before they got too influenced
by the other music of their era.