Song of the Day #1,441: ‘I Am a Rock’ – Simon & Garfunkel

Best Albums of the 60s – #16
Sounds of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel (1966)

I backed into my appreciation of Simon & Garfunkel after discovering Paul Simon as a solo artist. So I always kind of looked at the duo as the opening stages of a brilliant career and less as a groundbreaking unit in its own right.

But over the years I’ve come to understand just what an impact they had on the musical landscape.

The Byrds were certainly the most influential folk rock band, but earned their accolades in large part by applying their sound to others’ songs (Bob Dylan’s to be specific). Simon & Garfunkel combined the singer-songwriter element with their gorgeous harmonies and soft rock sound — the perfect synthesis of what Dylan and The Byrds pulled off separately.

That sound is best presented on the duo’s second album, Sounds of Silence. The title track became a touchstone for the genre but the album’s closing track, ‘I Am a Rock,’ is an equally strong example. The song opens and closes with a gentle acoustic guitar line (that would show up in modified form on ‘Homeward Bound’) but erupts in Byrds-like folk rock ecstasy for most of its running time.

Simon’s lyrics are a beautiful encapsulation of adolescent isolation — they’re so earnestly morose that they’re almost silly, but I know they spoke to me when I was of a certain age and mindset, and based on comments I’ve read around the Web, it looks like they’re speaking to young people still.

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark
December,
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before,
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me,
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain,
And an island never cries.

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4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,441: ‘I Am a Rock’ – Simon & Garfunkel

  1. pegclifton says:

    Well now I can start to identify with the decade. When I remember the 60’s, it’s Simon and Garfunkel that come to mind mostly. I was a huge fan then and never tire of listening to them 50 years later! God I am old 😦

  2. Dana says:

    Peg, you are not old, you are fabulous and timeless, as is Simon and Garfunkle.

  3. pegclifton says:

    Ahhhh you did have a good rest on your vacation 🙂

  4. Shawn says:

    I’m sure I’ve never read the lyrics to this one. It’s the third verse holding it all together and keeping the earnestness at bay, don’t you think? The song makes me feel like I better go take a walk, or maybe call my parents.

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