Here is a list of the full-length albums released by Simon & Garfunkel (Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel) between 1964 and 1970 and my comments on them.
Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (October 1964)
This album best reflects the origins of Simon and Garfunkel in the traditional folk movement of the 1960’s. It is full of many well-known ballads like “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and “The Times They are A-changin’” with acoustic guitar leading throughout. Nevertheless, some of the vocal harmonies that would come to characterize the duo are already apparent and Paul Simon’s song-writing stands out in songs like “Bleecker Street”. Moreover, the dark undertones of “The Sun is Burning” and the hopeful enthusiasm of “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” forecast the social engagement (and social criticism) to be found in many of the later S&G albums.
Side One: You Can Tell the World | Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream
Bleecker Street | Sparrow | Benedictus |The Sounds of Silence
Side Two: He was My Brother | Peggy-O | Go Tell It on the Mountain
The Sun is Burning | The Times They are A-changin’ |Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.
Sounds of Silence (January 1966)
This is the album that many consider as marking the emergence of the “true” Simon and Garfunkel. Indeed, it was actually created after an initial dissolution of the duo following the lack of commercial success for Wednesday Morning. The release of a more lively and much richer production of “Sounds of Silence” (through the addition of new instrumental tracks) gained the duo much recognition and led them to restart their musical partnership. Despite the somewhat more rock/pop overtones of the album, many of the underlying themes and melodies still reflect their background in folk rock. One song even features a re-write of the E. A. Robinson poem “Richard Cory” which, with the simple addition of a chorus, takes on a whole new meaning.
Side One: The Sounds of Silence | Leaves That are Green | Blessed
Kathy’s Song | Somewhere They Can’t Find Me | Angie
Side Two: Richard Cory | A Most Peculiar Man
April Come She Will | We’ve Got a Groovy Thing Goin’ | I Am a Rock
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme (October 1966)
This album marks both the ever-increasing lyrical depth of Paul Simon’s writing as well as some of the best showcases for Art Garfunkel’s voice to that point. Songs like “Patterns” and “A Poem on the Underground Wall” make it seem more that Paul was creating complex poetry which he then set to music rather than writing simple song lyrics alone. In “Scarborough Fair” and “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her”, there can be no doubt that it is the lead vocals of Art that give the songs such a haunting and graceful quality. The close of the album which features a rendition of the carol “Silent Night” increasingly drowned out by a news broadcast full of death and war shocked many at the time and demonstrates the social activism that both singers held to.
Side One: Scarborough Fair/Canticle | Patterns | Cloudy
Homeward Bound | The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine | The 59th Street Bridge Song
Side Two: The Dangling Conversation | Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall
A Simple Desultory Philippic | For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her
A Poem on the Underground Wall | 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night
Bookends (April 1968)
Bookends is an amazingly constructed album. The entire first side fits together as a single unit—from bookend to bookend, as it were. It traces life from rebellious childhood (“Save the Life of My Child”) to the hopeful freedom of young adulthood (“America”) to the turmoil and worries of middle-age (“Overs”) to the pains and fears of aging (‘Voices of Old People”) to resigned old age (“Old Friends”). All of these songs reflect very simple instrumental input—sometimes relying on guitar alone. Side two has a bit more variety in its themes and reflects a further step into a different instrumention and musical style for the pair. Notably, it contains the well-known song “Mrs. Robinson” from the movie The Graduate.
Side One: Bookends Theme | Save the Life of My Child | America
Overs | Voices of Old People | Old Friends | Bookends Theme
Side Two: Fakin’ It | Punky’s Dilemma | Mrs. Robinson
A Hazy Shade of Winter | At the Zoo
Bridge Over Troubled Water (January 1970)
Bridge Over Troubled Water is considered to be the best of all Simon & Garfunkel works. The title song is by far the most famous of all their songs and features once again the amazing singing of Art Garfunkel. In addition to containing the group’s furthest steps yet away from traditional songs (the album is a lot more “playful” with songs like “Baby Driver” and “Why Don’t You Write Me”), it also shows Paul Simon’s growing fascination with African/Caribbean rhythms (“Cecilia”). Perhaps most interesting, however, are the songs written by Paul in New York that refer to Art’s trip down to Mexico for the filming of a movie, an event which may see as one of the breaking points in the duo’s relationship. These songs include “The Only Living Boy in New York” and “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” (referring to Art Garfunkel’s previous plans to enter architecture).
Side One: Bridge Over Troubled Water | El Condor Pasa
Cecilia | Keep the Customer Satisfied | So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright
Side Two: The Boxer | Baby Driver | The Only Living Boy in NewYork
Why Don’t You Write Me |Bye, Bye Love | Song for the Asking