This record was a smash hit for the duo. In fact, for the decade before the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller in 1982, this was the best-selling album of all time. But Simon and Garfunkel has already decided to part ways. The front cover, with Simon partially obscuring Garfunkel’s face, was perhaps unintentionally symbolic of the dynamic between them.
I liked the yearly snapshot thing enough to make it a regular feature on the blog. But rather than move on to 1973, I’m going to jump around the decades a bit. For the next few weeks I’ll focus on 1982.
Bookends is half a concept record, with Side One tracing a life from birth to death. Side Two is made up of odds and ends left over from the Graduate soundtrack, including ‘Mrs. Robinson’ and ‘Hazy Shade of Winter.’
A few years ago I counted down my list of favorite songwriters and Paul Simon wound up in the top spot. So it’s no surprise that he’d place a song on this list.
What may be a surprise is that I’m not going with one of his solo tracks, particularly something from Graceland, one of the best albums ever recorded.
Bookends – Simon & Garfunkel (1968)
On Simon & Garfunkel’s fourth album, Bookends, the duo entered full-on concept album territory. Or maybe I should say “half-on concept album,” because the record is split between a suite of songs about beginnings and endings (hence the title) and a group of songs that were left over from the Graduate soundtrack.
Perhaps that paints the duo as a little unfocused, but when you consider the second half contains such great songs as ‘Fakin’ It,’ ‘A Hazy Shade of Winter’ and the full version of ‘Mrs. Robinson,’ it’s hard to argue with the results.
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.
Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel (1970)
Simon & Garfunkel’s final album was their finest, in large part because it feels like a swan song.
There was plenty of tension between the duo during the writing and recording of the album — some of which found its way into the songs — and an undercurrent of melancholy to the project that serves it well.