Bookends

Artist: Simon & Garfunkel

Album: Bookends

Another one of my favourites from the era of ’60s folk-rock, Bookends is a benchmark album for two artists who put their signatures on the decade with a mix of choirboy harmonies, ringing acoustic and electric guitars, and Paul Simon’s literary song-writing.

According to Richie Unterberger of All Music Guide, Bookends reflected a growing maturity for the duo, even as the partnership between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel began to weaken (Simon did most of the songwriting, leaving Garfunkel feeling overshadowed for the most part – though it wouldn’t be Simon and Garfunkel without Art’s recognizable tenor.)

It opens with a relatively minimalist instrumental that features several themes woven together that you’ll find throughout the album. The opening track suddenly gives way to the dissonance and synthesizers of Save the Live of My Child.

Of course, my favourite song on the album is America, a tale of two people hitchhiking their way across America to discover the country; it speaks of the angst many young people felt at the end of that turbulent decade. It could also refer to that journey of self-discovery all of us need to take at some point in our lives.

(As a side note, as I played this as a kid, I would also invariably be thumbing through Garry Trudeau’s collection of Doonesbury cartoons, Call Me When You Find America. Bit of a theme there…)

The other hit off this album included Mrs. Robinson (from The Graduate), however, I’ve always remained partial to America and the first track on side two, Fakin’ It.

An oddity from Bookends is Voices of the Old People. Art Garfunkel spent several months recording the conversations of seniors in New York and Los Angeles. It becomes a prelude to Old Friends, a poignant tale of growing old.

Hope and disillusionment, aging and the relentless passage of time; Bookends can be as bleak as anything written by Lou Reed. Just not as angry, and with a little more bounce.