My favourite albums #2: Simon and Garfunkel – ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme’

Until a few years ago, I was only familiar with Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘greatest hits’, but then I acquired a set of their albums and discovered I’d been missing out. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (the title referring to a line from the first track) was released in 1966. Most of the songs were written by Paul Simon. I love this album for the smart lyrics, beautiful harmonies, excellent sound quality and variety of moods.

  1. Scarborough Fair / Canticle. ‘Remember me to one who lives there / She once was a true love of mine’. The soft vocals, delicate guitar picking and chimes ensure that this song is magical and haunting.
  2. Patterns. ‘Like the colour of my skin / Or the day that I grow old / My life is made of patterns / That can scarcely be controlled’. A dramatic, dark comparison of human lives to those of rats in mazes and a gloomy acceptance of fate.
  3. Cloudy. ‘My thoughts are scattered and they’re cloudy / They have no borders, no boundaries’. A chilled out tone to this song belies the depression of someone who lacks direction and whose thoughts are like clouds drifting across the sky.
  4. Homeward Bound. ‘Home where my thought’s escaping / Home where my music’s playing / Home where my love lies waiting silently for me’. Yearning vocals and wonderful lyrics take centre stage in this song about a homesick musician.
  5. The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine. ‘Do figures of authority just shoot you down? / Is life within the business world a drag?’ Hippy-ish and witty, this commentary on the advertising industry has some funky organ and a fast pace.
  6. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy). ‘Hello lamppost, what’cha knowing / I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’. Upbeat and irresistible, this tune is groovy indeed and is named after a bridge over the East River in New York City.
  7. The Dangling Conversation. ‘And we sit and drink our coffee / Couched in our indifference, like shells upon the shore / You can hear the ocean roar’. A failing relationship is explored in this thoughtful, slow paced and slightly intellectual song.
  8. Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall. ‘Through the corridors of sleep / Past shadows dark and deep / My mind dances and leaps in confusion’. A very short beautifully sung commentary on pushing the thoughts of mortality aside.
  9. A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara’d Into Submission). ‘I been Mick Jaggered, silver daggered / Andy Warhol, won’t you please come home?’ An amusing parody of Bob Dylan, somewhat of an oddity.
  10. For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her. ‘And when you ran to me / Your cheeks flushed with the night / We walked on frosted fields / Of juniper and lamplight / I held your hand’. A stunningly beautiful, very short song with a powerful crescendo.
  11. A Poem on the Underground Wall. ‘And the train is gone suddenly / On wheels clicking silently / Like a gently tapping litany / And he holds his crayon rosary / Tighter in his hand’. A perfectly-worded micro-story of graffiti on a subway wall.
  12. 7 O’Clock News / Silent Night. ‘Demonstrators were forcibly evicted from the hearings when they began chanting anti-war slogans’. Contemporary news bulletins of August 3rd 1966 clash with a sweet rendition of the Christmas carol.

Scarborough Fair has been a long-standing favourite since I was very young. Every track on this album has its merits but my next favourites would have to be Homeward Bound and Patterns.

3 thoughts on “My favourite albums #2: Simon and Garfunkel – ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme’”

    1. Oh dear, maybe it’s not your brother’s favourite album then! I like all the albums but after lots of listening, I decided this one is the best.

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