Simon and Garfunkel
Bookends


4.5
superb

Review

by TheChaplain USER (13 Reviews)
August 31st, 2005 | 75 replies


Release Date: 1968 | Tracklist


Although at the time Simon & Garfunkel were already established pop stars, 1968's Bookends cemented their place as pop legends and went on to become one of the duo's alltime classic albums. The fact that Bookends wasn't overshadowed by S&G's crowning achievement Bridge Over Troubled Water, which came along a year later, gives an idea of this record's impressive stature. While not quite on the same level as Bridge (but then, few albums are), Bookends is a charming, eclectic and inspired collection of some of the best pop songs of the 1960s.

Bookends starts off with "Bookends Theme," a scant instrumental by a single acoustic guitar. Though the melody would be reintroduced later, the quiet, mystic introduction sets the tone for the album - one of attractively peaceful reflection. This theme is briefly circumnavigated in the second track, "Save the Life of My Child." A haunting, slightly electronic indictment of the government during the Vietnam era, the song centers on a boy on a ledge, ready to jump, and the frenzy of activity by everyone to a) avert the tragedy and b) protect their own appearence.

"America" returns to the realm of peace - where "Save the Life of My Child" was an attack on a hypocritical government, "America" is a celebration of America's people, told through a Kerouac-ian story of two lovers "look[ing] for America." The song's quiet acoustic guitar-and-piano arrangement creates a sound of quiet contentment and wonder, and Paul Simon's lyrics paint an idyllic picture of the American mystique. "Overs" is a little different. Although also quietly acoustic, "Overs" is a man telling his girl that their relationship has stagnated and should be broken off - but then he stops to think it over...

Not a song, and not really with an obvious point except to advance the tone of the record and kind of tie in to the next song, "Voices of Old People" is just that - old people talking to each other. Like they say in Almost Famous: "Look at them - they're on pot!"

"Old Friends" is a third person perspective on the beautiful connection between two old friends sitting on a park bench, and a wish for that kind of friendship and peace later in life. "Old Friends" flows into the second version of "Bookends Theme," with reflective lyrics about an old relationship now accompanying the acoustic guitar melody. "Fakin' It" is one of the bouncy pop gems on the album, complete with classic Simon & Garfunkel foot-tapping acoustic guitars and handclaps. There is even a shadow of things to come in the duo's career here, as horns are briefly heard in the arrangement before the song turns to a slightly strange (and very brief) skit and back to the catchy chorus before falling into a strangely marshal rhythm piece.

If you want feel-good escapism with a touch of drug-inspired lyrics, "Punky's Dilemma" is for you. The melody is cute and poppy, and the harmonies are, as ever, excellent, but the meaning of the song could deal with breakfast or a love affair, or something else entirely depending on which verse you're in.

And then, there is "Mrs. Robinson." Earlier in 1968, Simon & Garfunkel provided the musical score to the film The Graduate, made up of some old classics ("Sound of Silence") and some specially written material. Bookends includes a slightly different version of "Mrs. Robinson," a sardonic examination of The Graduate's leading lady's affair with a much younger man. Possibly S&G's most recognizable song, "Mrs. Robinson" has since become a soundtrack favorite for any movie (usually teen sex comedies) that involve making it with an older woman.

Bookends gets back to business with "Hazy Shade of Winter," a song with a little more emotional clout that examines depression through the obvious seasonal metaphor. Then it's back to peaceful fun with "At the Zoo," a humorous take on the various personalities of all the animals that we see at the zoo.

While certainly not containing the emotional weight or grand arrangements of Bridge Over Troubled Water, Bookends is possibly Simon & Garfunkel's best album of pure, fun pop music. The seeds of Bridge's depth are there, but they don't get in the way of the fun, convoluted lyrics or the consistently amazing harmonies that are S&G's calling card. Bookends is fun, escapist folk/pop at it's best.



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user ratings (208)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
DesolationRow
August 31st 2005


833 Comments


Great review. I'm not big on Simon and Garfunkel, but I like a couple songs. But still, :thumb:

Kingadamx
August 31st 2005


120 Comments


Awesome Review, this is Simon & Garfunkel's greatest album IMO.

captain chris
August 31st 2005


73 Comments


Great review indeed. Simon & Garfunkel Rock my Socks!

Smooches xxx

TheChaplain
August 31st 2005


98 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks very much, everybody *taking a bow*.

And a special shout out to Grateful Dead - your review of Bridge Over Troubled Water made me want to review this album

DesolationRow
August 31st 2005


833 Comments


Indeed GD, both were GREAT reviews.




morrissey
Moderator
October 9th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Just testing something, I would really give this album 4.5.

livinginafantasy
August 28th 2006


35 Comments


i must buy this. asap!

keithmoon
September 30th 2006


19 Comments


this album is awsome but still bridge is better. Somebody should review parsley,sage... another wonderful album

burton.and.gas
November 15th 2006


641 Comments


i really disliek S and G but i never heard this so i can't rate. I do liek paul simon's solo stuff and i knwo im not meant to.

AnyColour74
November 15th 2006


1054 Comments


Though I do see where you are coming from Burton about it hard getting into Simon&Garfunkel, you have to give it a few listens. It takes time to get into a band that your not familiar with, but in the end, you will probably become more comfortable with them.

Good review, good album.

MrKite
March 13th 2007


5020 Comments


I think my mom's got something by them. Just heard them on last.fm and I'll check them out.
This Message Edited On 03.13.07

Yazz_Flute
September 9th 2010


18811 Comments


I love Mrs Robinson so much.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
September 9th 2010


16427 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Can't believe i didn't have this album rated until now, it is absolutely amazing

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Ire
September 9th 2010


41795 Comments


This is the only Simon and Garfunkel album I don't have.

Satellite
September 9th 2010


20826 Comments


I've heard the big songs off of this, but the only S&G album I've heard in its entirety is Bridge. Simon's Graceland is a classic, too.

Yazz_Flute
September 9th 2010


18811 Comments


This reminds me of my childhood, makes me so happy.

Ire
September 9th 2010


41795 Comments


I'm a pretty big Simon/Garfunkel fan but Graceland is pretty overrated imo.


Dryden
September 9th 2010


12928 Comments


his childhood is overrated then

Ire
September 9th 2010


41795 Comments


ya it is

GenusHomo
February 5th 2012


61 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I agree w/Ire about Graceland. This is a really fabulous record though.



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