Patterns: Lyrical themes and interpretations

The following are lyrics from several Simon & Garfunkel albums and my interpretations of them.


The album Bookends represents a phenomenal piece of album creation in that the entire first side offers a set of separate and wildly differing songs that nevertheless trace the human existence from birth to death when taken together. A central theme of the relationships that we keep in each stage of our lives runs throughout and ties all the pieces together. Below are some extracts from the lyrics of those songs that paint this musical portrait.

Life begins: Bookends Theme

Childhood: Save the life of my Child

“Save the life of my child!”
Cried the desperate mother
“Oh, what’s become of the children?”
People askin’ each other.

When spotlight hit the boy
And the crowd began to cheer—he flew away.
Oh my grace, I’ve got no hiding place,
Oh my grace, I’ve got no hiding place,
Oh my grace…

Young adulthood: America

Let us be lovers; we’ll marry our fortunes together
I’ve got some real estate here in my bag
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner Pies.
And walked of to look for America

Kathy I’m lost I said though I knew she was sleeping
I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Countin’ the cars on the New Jersey turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America.

Middle age: Overs

Why don’t we stop fooling ourselves
The game is over, over, over.
No good times, no bad times,
There’s no times at all—just the New York Times

We might as well be apart
It hardly matters we sleep separately
Drop a smile
Cause we laughed d them
And we laughed them all in a very short time.

Aging: Voices of Old People

“I’ve got little in this world. I’d give honestly one hundred dollars for that picture…”
“God forgive me, but an old person without money is pathetic.”
“Children and mother’s…That is mother’s life, to live for your child!”
“I couldn’t get younger. I have to be an old man, that’s all…”
“You could say, yes, an eyesore. And I was so happy and everybody was ‘what is this?’ ‘what is here?’ This is just—beautiful …Your own room and your own home.”

Old age: Old Friends

Old friends,
Old friends
Sat on their park bench like bookends.
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes of the old friends.
Old friends,
Winter companions, the old men—
Lost in their overcoats waiting for the sunset…
Can you imagine us years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy.
Old friends.

End of life: Bookend Theme