Simon and Garfunkle – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

Artist: Simon and Garfunkle
Genere: Folk, Rock, Pop, singer-songwriter
Title: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
Released: 1966
Label: Columbia
Musicians:Paul Simon – vocals, guitar, Art Garfunkel – vocals, piano, Hal Blaine – drums, Joe South – guitar, Carol Kaye – bass guitar, John Meszar – harpsichord Eugene Wright – double, Joe Morello – drums, Charlie O’Donnell – spoken vocals on “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night”
Producer:Bob Johnston & Roy Halee
Engineer: Roy Halee

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme is the third studio album by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel. The album largely consists of acoustic pieces that were mostly written during Paul Simon’s period in England.
In fact, I once used the title as part of a recipe. I made a turkey using the very combination of herbs as the title of the LP at near equal measurements. Just so you know, it worked and was quite tasty. See? Records even provide sustenance! That’s how great records are. You will never get that from streaming!

Simon & Garfunkel were given four months to record the album, which allowed the duo considerable freedom in terms of creativity. The band’s previous album, Sounds of Silence, was a “rush job” produced to capitalize on the success of their first hit single, “The Sound of Silence”.  Parsley was the first time Simon insisted on total control in aspects of recording. The album was the duo’s first to be recorded on an eight-track recorder, which the duo persuaded Columbia Records to use. Vocal takes were overdubbed, as they found it difficult to get “decent separation” between Simon’s voice and guitar.,_Sage,_Rosemary_and_Thyme

Side one
1. “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” Traditional,- This is one of my favorite songs performed by Simon and Garfunkel. From Wikipedia: “Scarborough Fair” is a traditional English ballad about the Yorkshire town of Scarborough.The song relates the tale of a young man who instructs the listener to tell his former love to perform for him a series of impossible tasks, such as making him a shirt without a seam and then washing it in a dry well, adding that if she completes these tasks he will take her back. Often the song is sung as a duet, with the woman then giving her lover a series of equally impossible tasks, promising to give him his seamless shirt once he has finished. The melody is in Dorian mode, and is very typical of the middle English period. As the song spread, it was adapted, modified, and rewritten to the point that dozens of versions existed by the end of the 18th century, although only a few are typically sung nowadays. The references to the traditional English fair, “Scarborough Fair” and the refrain “parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme” date to 19th century versions, and the refrain may have been borrowed from the ballad Riddles Wisely Expounded, (Child Ballad #1), which has a similar plot.
Paul Simon learned the song in London in 1965 from Martin Carthy, who had picked up the tune from the songbook by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger and included it on his eponymous 1965 album. Simon & Garfunkel set it in counterpoint with “Canticle” – a reworking of the lyrics from Simon’s 1963 anti-war song, “The Side of a Hill”,[10] set to a new melody composed mainly by Art Garfunkel. Before Simon had learned the song, Bob Dylan had borrowed the melody and several lines from Carthy’s arrangement to create his song, “Girl from the North Country”, which appeared on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963), Nashville Skyline (1969) (together with Johnny Cash), Real Live (1984) and The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (1993).

2. “Patterns” – From the first track, we go right into this up-tempo number featuring mostly percussion and bass. String snaps are used prominently as well as a “syncopated bass and frenetic bongo part”. This in a style that is more like poetry with music.The lyrics are about how life is a labyrinthine maze, following patterns which are, because we are trapped in them, difficult to unravel or control.

3. “Cloudy” Simon, Bruce Woodley -“Cloudy” sounds like it revolves around “a hitchhiker’s meanderings in northern California”. It employs a “breezy musical style”. It has a happy, relaxing feel about it with somewhat surreal, but positive lyrics.

4. “Homeward Bound” –  This song carries a sense of melancholia. From Wikipedia: “Homeward Bound” was written by Paul Simon after returning to England in the spring of 1964. He had previously spent time in Essex, and he became a nightly fixture at the Railway Hotel in Brentwood, beginning that April. He was reeling from his brief period in the Greenwich Village folk scene, as well as the recording of his first album with Art Garfunkel, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which he anticipated would be a failure. During this time, he met Kathy Chitty, who was working as a ticket-taker at the club. The two hit it off instantly, but it became clear that Simon desired to perform in London, resulting in an emotional farewell. Following a performance in Liverpool, Simon was at Widnes railway station, waiting for the early morning milk train to London. He had been missing Chitty’s company and he began to write “Homeward Bound” on a scrap of paper. Chitty is mentioned in several other Simon & Garfunkel songs, most notably “Kathy’s Song” and “America”. In their 1969 hit “The Boxer”, Simon alludes to a railway station, a possible reference to “Homeward Bound”. A plaque commemorating this claim to fame is displayed on the Liverpool bound platform of Widnes railway station.

5. “The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine” – To me this up-tempo song speaks of social satire. The lyrics are “blisteringly satirical” and aimed at various popular culture targets. From Wikipedia: Written by Paul Simon, it is a commentary on advertising. A “satirical appropriation of an electric, organ-heavy psychedelic rock style,” in which the singer complains of various woes in his life, which can be “readily eased” by purchasing the titular device. “The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine” was written by Simon while he was in London apparently watching his clothes in a washing machine. It takes a cynical view of the advertising on Madison Avenue in New York City. The song also includes references to the hippie movement during the Vietnam War as well as a series of unanswered personal questions.

6. “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” – This is a happy, very positive song in my opinion. It almost has a healing quality to it as it depicts a carefree morning. From Wikipedia:“59th Street Bridge” is the colloquial name of the Queensboro Bridge in New York City. The song’s message is immediately delivered in its opening verse: “Slow down, you move too fast”.This studio version features Dave Brubeck Quartet members Joe Morello (drums) and Eugene Wright (bass)

Side two
1. “The Dangling Conversation” “The Dangling Conversation” concerns a dying relationship. The theme is failed communication between lovers. The song starts in a room washed by shadows from the sun slanting through the lace curtains and ends with the room “softly faded.” The two are as different as the poets they read: Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. Simon has compared this song to “The Sound of Silence”, but says “The Dangling Conversation” is more personal.

2. “Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall” – Judging by the title of the song one would expect a ballad, but it is an up-tempo number.

3. “A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara’d into Submission)” – This is the hardest rocker on the LP and one of my favorites, more for its lyrical content. It is a satirical rant about a wide variety of pop-culture personalities and phenomena of the time, including a little bit of politics. In fact, in the song, Simon vocally imitates Bob Dylan at one point, as well as his harmonica interjections.The subtitle does not appear on the sleeve or the disc label. “Desultory” means lacking a plan, or a poor effort, a disappointing performance. “Philippic” is a fiery, damning speech, or tirade, delivered to condemn a particular political actor.
From Wikipedia: It is generally considered a parody of American musician Bob Dylan’s writing style, especially that of “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”, a lengthy piece released on Dylan’s 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home. The original version was subtitled “Or how I was Lyndon Johnson’d into Submission” in a spoken introduction at the beginning, after Simon announced the song’s titleIn early 1965, Simon was in the midst of a period in which he went back and forth between the United States and Great Britain. Eventually spending most of 1965 in Britain, he recorded The Paul Simon Songbook in London, while making a living singing at folk clubs in Britain. During this period he was also writing with Bruce Woodley of the Seekers. In 1966, together with Art Garfunkel, Simon re-recorded the song for the duo’s album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, with several changes to the lyrics. The list of names dropped is revised. When Simon complains about a man who is, “…so unhip, when you say Dylan he thinks you’re talking about Dylan Thomas,” the next line in the London solo version is “It’s all right Ma. It’s just something I learned over in England,” referencing the Dylan songs “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” and “I Shall Be Free No. 10.” However, the Simon and Garfunkel songs says, “It’s all right Ma. Everybody must get stoned.” the second part referencing the Dylan song “Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35”. At the end of the 1966 recording Simon says, “Folk rock,” and, after an audible noise, “I’ve lost my harmonica, Albert.” This presumably refers to Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman. In the 1965 version, however, Simon sings, “When in London, do as I do: find yourself a friendly haiku… Go to sleep for ten or fifteen years.” This could be a reference to his girlfriend at that time, Kathy Chitty, whom people referred to as ‘The Haiku’.
People mentioned in lyrics In this 1966 version:
Norman Mailer, American writer
Maxwell Taylor, American soldier and diplomat
John O’Hara, American writer
Robert McNamara, American political figure (U.S. Secretary of Defense at the time)
Phil Spector, record producer
Lou Adler, record producer
Barry Sadler, American musician
Roy Halee, Simon and Garfunkel’s record producer
The Rolling Stones
The Beatles
Ayn Rand, novelist and philosopher
Art Garfunkel, American singer, Paul Simon’s partner in Simon and Garfunkel
Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet and writer
Lenny Bruce, American comedian
Mick Jagger, frontman of The Rolling Stones
“Silver Dagger”, nineteenth-century folk song largely associated with Joan Baez
Andy Warhol, American visual artist

4. “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her” – This is sung solely by Art Garfunkel, and consists mainly of his vocals with heavy reverb and a 12-string acoustic guitar. The lyrics concern finding a lover, although Simon once characterized the subject matter as being about a “belief,” rather than about a specific individual.,_Whenever_I_May_Find_Her

5. “A Poem on the Underground Wall” –  From Wikipedia:This song largely revolves around a man creating graffiti on a sign in a subway station, with Simon also bringing into play “a variety of visceral and religious images.

6. “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night” Josef Mohr, Franz Gruber – This strange and disturbing track is a xmas song with news casts over-dubbed, which are all negative and depressing. Sadly, it is also fitting to this time of year in the US. From Wikipedia: “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night” is a sound collage and simply constructed: it consists of the duo singing “Silent Night” in two-part harmony over an arpeggiated piano section while a news report plays. The voice of the newscaster is that of Charlie O’Donnell, then a radio disc jockey. As the track progresses, the song becomes fainter and the news report louder. “The result rather bluntly makes an ironic commentary on various social ills by juxtaposing them with tenderly expressed Christmas sentiments.” The mix on the track is also purposefully clashing, with the piano accompaniment mixed solely to the left channel and the news solely to the right channel while vocals remain in the middle.


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