Exploring Simon & Garfunkel Hits: A Journey Through Their Timeless Music

by Alex Harris

14th June, 2024

Exploring Simon & Garfunkel Hits: A Journey Through Their Timeless Music

Simon & Garfunkel, the quintessential folk-rock duo, have left an indelible mark on the music world with their melodic harmonies and poignant lyrics.

From their early days as a folk duo to their evolution into one of the most celebrated acts of the 1960s and ’70s, their songs continue to resonate with listeners across generations.

In this article, we delve into the essence of Simon & Garfunkel hits, exploring the stories behind their best songs, the profound impact of their music, and what makes their sound so timeless.

The Birth of Simon & Garfunkel

Formed in 1956, Simon & Garfunkel originally began as Tom & Jerry, with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel experimenting with doo-wop and rock and roll.

Their transformation into Simon & Garfunkel marked the beginning of a legendary partnership, defined by their seamless blend of voices and the introspective depth of their lyrics.

Early Success: The Sound of Silence

One cannot discuss Simon & Garfunkel hits without mentioning The Sound of Silence.

Released in 1964 on their debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., this song catapulted them to fame.

Written by Paul Simon, The Sound of Silence began as an acoustic folk ballad but was later electrified by producer Tom Wilson, creating a haunting anthem that would define their sound.

The song’s powerful lyrics, such as “Hello darkness, my old friend,” have since become iconic, reflecting the era’s social and political turbulence.

The Breakthrough: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

The duo’s next major album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966), is a collection that showcases some of the best Simon and Garfunkel songs.

Tracks like “Homeward Bound” and “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” highlight their lyrical brilliance and musical versatility.

“Homeward Bound,” in particular, encapsulates a sense of longing and introspection, with Simon’s evocative lyrics and Garfunkel’s soothing vocals creating a masterpiece of folk-pop harmony.

The Monumental Success of Bridge Over Troubled Water

 Simon & Garfunkel’s fifth studio album, released in 1970, Bridge Over Troubled Water, is often hailed as one of the greatest albums in rock history.

The album achieved staggering success, quickly ascending to the pinnacle of the UK charts and maintaining its position for six months.

In the US, it dominated for 10 weeks and became the best-selling album of the 1970s.

The title track, written by Paul Simon and featuring Garfunkel’s soul-stirring vocals, became an anthem of comfort and hope.

The song’s lyrics, “Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down,” continue to offer solace to millions.

Produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, this album

Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits: Essential Tracks

1. Bridge Over Troubled Water

Release Date: January 26, 1970
Album:Bridge Over Troubled Water
Writers: Paul Simon
Producer: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Roy Halee

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” stands as one of Simon & Garfunkel’s most acclaimed hits.

This gospel-inspired ballad showcases Art Garfunkel’s stunning vocal performance, a decision encouraged by Paul Simon despite initial hesitations.

The song’s lyrics offer solace and hope, with lines like “When you’re weary, feeling small, when tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all.”

The gentle piano accompaniment builds to a powerful crescendo, symbolising the song’s theme of unwavering support and friendship.

2. The Sound of Silence

Release Date: September 1965 (electric version)
Album:Sounds of Silence
Writers: Paul Simon
Producer: Tom Wilson

Originally an acoustic track on their debut album, “The Sound of Silence” became a massive hit after producer Tom Wilson overdubbed electric instruments without the duo’s initial knowledge.

This song, with its haunting lyrics, “Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again,” explores themes of alienation and social disconnect, resonating deeply during the tumultuous 1960s.

Its success propelled Simon & Garfunkel to fame, marking a significant shift towards folk rock.

3. Mrs. Robinson

Release Date: April 5, 1968
Writers: Paul Simon
Producer: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Roy Halee

“Mrs. Robinson,” immortalised by its association with the film The Graduate, captures the disillusionment of the 1960s.

The catchy chorus, “Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know,” juxtaposes religious references with critiques of societal norms.

The song’s upbeat melody and intriguing lyrics earned it a Grammy Award for Record of the Year, solidifying Simon & Garfunkel’s place in music history.

4. The Boxer

Release Date: March 21, 1969
Album:Bridge Over Troubled Water
Writers: Paul Simon
Producer: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Roy Halee

“The Boxer” tells the poignant story of a struggling individual, blending autobiographical elements with broader social commentary.

Its chorus, featuring the evocative “lie-la-lie” refrain, underscores the protagonist’s resilience amidst adversity.

The extensive recording process, which took over 100 hours, resulted in a richly layered track, complete with a powerful brass section and intricate guitar work.

5. Scarborough Fair/Canticle

Release Date: 1966
Album:Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
Writers: Traditional (arranged by Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel)
Producer: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Roy Halee

A reimagining of a traditional English ballad, “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” intertwines mediaeval lyrics with anti-war sentiments from Simon’s “The Side of a Hill.”

The delicate harmonies and baroque instrumentation create a hauntingly beautiful piece.

The song gained additional fame through its inclusion in The Graduate soundtrack, further cementing its place among Simon & Garfunkel’s best songs.

6. “April Come She Will”

Release Date: 1965
Album:Sounds of Silence
Writers: Paul Simon
Producer: Paul Simon, Bob Johnston

“April Come She Will” is a poignant song that was originally part of Paul Simon’s solo album “The Paul Simon Songbook.” 

It later became the B-side to the hit single “Scarborough Fair/Canticle.”

The song’s lyrics use the changing seasons as a metaphor for a young girl’s capricious moods, inspired by a nursery rhyme about a cuckoo bird that Simon heard while in England.

The simplicity of the lyrics, coupled with the duo’s harmonious vocals, evokes a sense of fleeting beauty and the inevitable passage of time. 

“April Come She Will” was also featured in the soundtrack for the film “TheGraduate,” adding to its legacy as a classic folk tune that captures the essence of change and the bittersweet nature of growth.

7. America

Release Date: April 3, 1968
Writers: Paul Simon
Producer: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Roy Halee

“America” is a poignant narrative of two young lovers journeying across the country in search of meaning and identity.

The lyrics, “Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together,” reflect a mixture of hope and disillusionment.

Paul Simon drew inspiration from his own road trip with then-girlfriend Kathy Chitty, encapsulating the spirit of youthful exploration and the quest for the American dream.

8. El Condor Pasa (If I Could)

Release Date: September 1970
Album:Bridge Over Troubled Water
Writers: Daniel Alomía Robles (music), Paul Simon (lyrics)
Producer: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Roy Halee

“El Condor Pasa (If I Could)” showcases Simon’s interest in world music, blending Peruvian folk melodies with English lyrics.

The song’s arrangement features traditional Andean instruments, creating a unique and evocative sound.

Its contemplative lyrics, “I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail,” express a longing for freedom and simplicity.

9. A Hazy Shade of Winter

Release Date: October 22, 1966
Writers: Paul Simon
Producer: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Roy Halee

“A Hazy Shade of Winter” contrasts its upbeat tempo with lyrics reflecting the passage of time and the loss of youthful ideals.

The lines, “Time, time, time, see what’s become of me,” convey a sense of urgency and introspection.

The song’s energetic rhythm and poignant message have made it a perennial favourite, covered successfully by The Bangles in 1987.

10. Kathy’s Song

Release Date: January 17, 1966
Album:Sounds of Silence
Writers: Paul Simon
Producer: Tom Wilson

“Kathy’s Song” is a deeply personal ballad written by Paul Simon for his then-girlfriend, Kathy Chitty.

Its introspective lyrics, “And so you see I have come to doubt all that I once held as true,” reflect Simon’s inner turmoil and longing.

The song’s simple acoustic arrangement highlights its emotional depth, making it a standout track on the Sounds of Silence album.

11. “Old Friends”

Release Date: April 3, 1968
Album: Bookends
Writer: Paul Simon
Producers: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Roy Halee

“Old Friends” from the album “Bookends” is a reflective song by Simon & Garfunkel that muses on aging and the enduring nature of friendship.

The lyrics a melancholic beauty, “how terribly strange to be seventy” heartbreakingly delivered by Garfunkel paint a vivid picture of two old men sitting on a park bench, symbolising a lifetime of shared experiences.

The orchestral arrangement adds emotional depth, while the transition into “Bookends Theme (Reprise)” underscores the album’s cohesive narrative.

This track, paired with “Mrs. Robinson” on the B-side, remains a testament to the duo’s lyrical and musical artistry.

12. “Bookends Theme (Reprise)”

Release Date: April 3, 1968
Album: Bookends
Writer: Paul Simon
Producers: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Roy Halee

The “Bookends Theme (Reprise)” is a brief but evocative instrumental track that closes Simon & Garfunkel’s album “Bookends”.

It serves as a reflective bookend to the album, reprising the musical motifs introduced in the opening theme.

The reprise is a poignant reminder of the album’s exploration of life’s cyclical nature and the passage of time.

Its placement at the end of the album brings a sense of closure to the journey the listener has taken, echoing the themes of memory and reflection that run throughout the record.

13. “Homeward Bound”

Release Date: January 19, 1966
Album: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
Writer: Paul Simon
Producer: Bob Johnston

“Homeward Bound” is a heartfelt song by Simon & Garfunkel, featured on their third studio album “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme.”

The song was written by Paul Simon during his time in England and reflects his longing for home and familiarity.

It’s known for its catchy melody and relatable lyrics that convey the feelings of a traveling musician yearning for the comfort of home. 

The track achieved commercial success, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

14. “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”

Release Date: October 10, 1966
Album: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
Writer: Paul Simon
Producer: Bob Johnston

“The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” is a cheerful and whimsical track by Simon & Garfunkel, included on their album “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme.”

Known for its light-hearted lyrics and jazzy, carefree rhythm, the song captures the essence of joy and the simple pleasure of a leisurely stroll through the city.

The title refers to the Queensboro Bridge in New York City and is a celebration of living in the moment.

Its upbeat tempo and catchy refrain have made it a beloved classic and a symbol of the 1960s’ optimistic spirit.

15. The Only Living Boy in New York

Release Date: January 26, 1970
Album:Bridge Over Troubled Water
Writers: Paul Simon
Producer: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Roy Halee

“The Only Living Boy in New York” captures the sense of isolation and change as Garfunkel pursued an acting career in Mexico.

The lyrics, “Tom, get your plane right on time,” reference their early days as Tom & Jerry.

The song’s lush harmonies and reflective mood underscore the duo’s evolving dynamic and impending breakup.

Legacy of Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel’s influence extends far beyond their initial success.

Their songs have been covered by numerous artists across various genres, from rock to pop to hip-hop.

Their music has been featured in films, commercials, and television shows, proving its enduring relevance.

Songs like “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” and “The Sound of Silence” continue to be staples in the folk and rock repertoire, inspiring new generations of musicians.

Conclusion: Timeless Hits That Define an Era

The narrative of Simon & Garfunkel is a poignant one, blending timeless music with the bittersweet story of a deep and complex friendship.

At the peak of their collaborative genius, they chose separate paths, a decision that left their audience with a collection of songs that feel both comforting and evocative.

Even as their brief reunions for concerts sparked hope, Paul Simon’s retirement and the coolness between the duo have all but quenched the possibility of another joint performance.

Yet, the magic of their five studio albums continues to resonate deeply.

It’s a profound reminder of the beauty that can arise from contrasts and challenges, encouraging us to explore their harmonious blend of sounds anew.

Their music invites us to remember, to feel, and to connect with the timeless echoes of their artistry.

Let their melodies continue to inspire and transport us across the emotional landscapes they so beautifully painted with their words and tunes.

So, what are you waiting for? Immerse yourself in the sounds of Simon & Garfunkel and let their music take you on an unforgettable journey.

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