It seems appropriate a week after I named Paul Simon as my favorite songwriter to explore his work in more detail. Welcome to Paul Simon Weekends!
Over the next few months, I will explore Simon’s work both with Simon & Garfunkel and as a solo artist. His career has spanned 47 years and 16 studio albums, plus a soundtrack and several live records. Lots of blog fodder there. So let’s dive right in with the 1964 debut of Simon & Garfunkel.
Wednesday Morning, 3 AM is a modest little folk record, released quietly in 1964 and quickly forgotten. It features five Paul Simon originals and seven covers of classic folk songs. The duo cover ‘Peggy-O’ and ‘Go Tell It On the Mountain’ as well as a track by one of Simon’s heroes — Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’.’
The times were indeed changing, and Simon & Garfunkel initially found themselves on the wrong side of history, putting out a simple folk album at the same time Dylan was plugging in and turning his back on that scene.
Simon showed a knack for beautiful melodies right out of the gate, as on today’s track, ‘Sparrow.’ The tune and harmonies are lovely, though the nursery rhyme lyrics don’t really hint at the genius yet to come.
Who’s traveled far and cries for rest?
“Not I,” said the Oak Tree,
“I won’t share my branches with no sparrow’s nest,
And my blanket of leaves won’t warm her cold breast.”
Who will love a little Sparrow
And who will speak a kindly word?
“Not I,” said the Swan,
“The entire idea is utterly absurd,
I’d be laughed at and scorned if the other Swans heard.”
Who will take pity in his heart,
And who will feed a starving sparrow?
“Not I,” said the Golden Wheat,
“I would if I could but I cannot I know,
I need all my grain to prosper and grow.”
Who will love a little Sparrow?
Will no one write her eulogy?
“I will,” said the Earth,
“For all I’ve created returns unto me,
From dust were ye made and dust ye shall be.”