Song of the Day #1,185: ‘The Dangling Conversation’ – Simon & Garfunkel

The third single from Parsely, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme might not have the instant familiarity of ‘Scarborough Fair’ and ‘Homeward Bound’ but it is a dazzler nonetheless.

‘The Dangling Conversation’ sets a sad scene of the relationship that has dissolved into apathy. Simon, all of 25 years old when he wrote this, beautifully captures the numbness of faded love.

You can picture these two intellectuals, “couched in… indifference,” reading their poetry and having superficial conversations about analysis and the theater — this is 70s Woody Allen territory a decade earlier.

I remember my mom had to write an essay about this song while pursuing her college degree (I was in high school at the time). Her professor displayed the lyrics as a poem and requested analysis. My mom finished her essay by saying she planned to go home and listen to the song.

When she got home, she asked me if ‘The Dangling Conversation’ was ever recorded and released, because she’d feel like an ass if she had pretended to know the song when in fact it was just a Paul Simon poem.

I assured her it was an actual song, and a lovely one at that.

It’s a still life water color,
Of a now late afternoon,
As the sun shines through the curtained lace
And shadows wash the room.
And we sit and drink our coffee
Couched in our indifference,
Like shells upon the shore
You can hear the ocean roar
In the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
The borders of our lives.

And you read your Emily Dickinson,
And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with bookmarkers
That measure what we’ve lost.
Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm,
Couplets out of rhyme,
In syncopated time
And the dangled conversation
And the superficial sighs,
Are the borders of our lives.

Yes, we speak of things that matter,
With words that must be said,
“Can analysis be worthwhile?”
“Is the theater really dead?”
And how the room is softly faded
And I only kiss your shadow,
I cannot feel your hand,
You’re a stranger now unto me
Lost in the dangling conversation.
And the superficial sighs,
In the borders of our lives.

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,185: ‘The Dangling Conversation’ – Simon & Garfunkel

  1. Dana says:

    I’m not familiar with this song, but it is quite nice. Great story about your mom also.

  2. pegclifton says:

    I had completely forgotten this moment in my “college career” Thanks for bringing it up 🙂 I do love this song.

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