Song of the Day #1,170: ‘The Side of a Hill’ – Paul Simon

After the failure of Simon & Garfunkel’s debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3AM, Paul Simon headed to London, where he played folk music in English pubs and enjoyed a small amount of success.

Simon drew inspiration from the music coming out of England at the time, and like Bob Dylan, later worked elements of English folk song lyrics and melodies into his own work. The best known example is the recording of ‘Scarborough Fair’ that appeared on a future Simon & Garfunkel album.

Still under contract with Columbia, Simon recorded his first solo album for their British label. Called The Paul Simon Songbook, the 12-song collection consisted almost entirely of songs he would later record with Garfunkel. Tracks such as ‘April Come She Will,’ ‘I Am a Rock’ and ‘Leaves That are Green’ first saw the light of day on this album.

One song, ‘The Side of the Hill,’ was a modest anti-war parable that would later be interwoven into the Simon & Garfunkel recording of ‘Scarborough Fair,’ with some of these lyrics sung in counterpoint to the main melody.

On the side of a hill in a land called ‘Somewhere’
A little boy lies asleep in the earth
While down in the valley a cruel war rages
And people forget what a child’s life is worth

On the side of a hill, a little cloud weeps
And waters the grave with its silent tears
While a soldier cleans and polishes a gun
That ended a life at the age of seven years

And the war rages on in the land called ‘Somewhere’
And generals order their men to kill
And to fight for a cause they’ve long ago forgotten
While the little cloud weeps on the side of a hill

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,170: ‘The Side of a Hill’ – Paul Simon

  1. Amy says:

    I can’t recall these words (or this melody?) from “Scarborough Fair,” but I’m very intrigued to learn that this song is incorporated into it somehow.

    Where was Garfunkel during the England years? Were both pursuing solo careers at this point? I never knew about this chapter in Simon’s life – very interesting.

  2. Clay says:

    Garfunkel was pursuing a Masters in Mathematics at Columbia University in New York.

  3. pegclifton says:

    I didn’t know about this time in his life either, very interesting. This is a sad and lovely song.

  4. Dana says:

    The line that is picked up in “Scarborough Fair” is “And to fight for a cause they’ve long ago forgotten.”

    Clay, do you own this album? I too never knew that Simon went solo so early on.

  5. Chante says:

    Wallace explained the importance of nature by explaining the relationship between the Man
    and Nature. Choosing to focus on sound as a restriction increases a poet’s powers of observation in melodic structure and the inherit oral aspects of a poem. So choose the perfect Funny Family Poems to surprise your mother and make it a special memory to always remember.

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