Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sail on, Silver Girl

Tonight I watched a PBS documentary on Simon and Garfunkel called Songs for America and suddenly in the middle of it I was just sobbing, great silent heaving sobs as they sang "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" to a montage of images from the sixties, JFK, MLK, Bobby and Ceasar, Vietnam and Civil Rights and molotov cocktails, all that hope and fire and despair, just like now really, except then people were marching in the streets, and gathering in fields of rain for that three-day music lovefest that was Woodstock, and I glimpsed the self I used to be, the aching dreaming girl who knew from the time she knew herself that she would one day move to America, to be part of all that marching, all that life, just waiting for the day when I would travel north, knowing somehow that it was written, the place I would find myself, dreaming as I played that song again and again, and all their other songs too, "Scarborough Fair," The Boxer," "The Sounds of Silence," "America," all of them, even the ones most people don't remember, and I knew all the words, every line, every syllable, got chills at the sudden harmonizing on "Sail on silver girl, sail on by, your time has come to shine," and I wept tonight, remembering the girl in that bedroom, playing those songs on repeat, so ardent and hopeful and lost, and while the Beatles defined the sixties for so many, for me it was always Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, those yearning boys so wrote and sang my soul.





14 comments:

  1. I love Simon & Garfunkel -- and there is something about that line, "Sail on Silver Girl," that always makes me tear up. Maybe it's the vocal change. I read somewhere that Paul Simon wrote it for his wife, who was beginning to get a gray hair or two.

    My personal favorite is "America" -- that line about the moon rising over the open field. And I love "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" too.

    They're a huge part of why "The Graduate" was such a successful, iconic movie -- also so representative of the '60s.

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    1. Steve, I think we all have a personal favorite Simon and Garfunkel song. I had forgotten how pure the notes of Art's voice were, how perfectly he and Paul Simon harmonized. And those songs were pure poetry, and story, so visually evocative and so emotionally told.

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  2. Aaaahhh. I love this post. Love Simon and Garfunkel, too. I was immediately pulled into this post because that song holds special meaning for me: It is the song I danced with my father to on my wedding day. On the part that says "sail on silver girl" I dropped my head to his shoulder and just wept and wept. I've always loved how that song means so many things to so many people.

    P.S. Isaiah and I used to sing "50 ways to leave your lover" every morning at the bus stop last year. His favorite part was "slip out the back, Jack." ;)

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    1. Oh Kimberly, the mental image of you dancing at your wedding with your father TO THIS SONG and weeping on his shoulder at just that part, well, it made me cry again, such a wholesome cleansing cry, because i know you were crying in your father's arms that day because you knew, you KNEW how deeply and truly and forever he meant those words. Wow. I'm crying again now, just writing this. What is it about that song? Thank you, love, for sharing this amazing moment. And how fabulous that you and Isaiah used to sing "slip out the back, Jack" at the school bus! What a creative parent you are!

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  3. And now I'm springing full blown tears because I can hear those voices in my mind, pure as water running down a rock-lined creek in the sunlight.
    Those boys were something. And they were so young! How? How did that happen? They were the soundtrack, weren't they?

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    1. Mary, you so nail it, the purity of those voices, and the way they just gave themselves to each song, to that song in particular, and yes, also their youth and what they did with it, and what they gave to us in our youth, that is inside us still. Hugs, dear friend.

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  4. Achingly beautiful and I remember it exactly this way.
    love,
    Rebecca

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  5. this album has the same emotional effect on me, and has for a long time. I remember that in the late 70s I thought it was nostalgic. Back to the present time and place, a few days after Hurricane Isaac, we had power but no cable, and we finally watched the DVD of "No Direction Home", the documentary about Bob Dylan's early days. I highly recommend that also. Now I'm listening to a 1964 concert featuring duets between Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. In this recording we have him laughing, which is really enjoyable. take care, sp

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  6. You and I would have been best friends if we'd known each other as girls.

    That photo of the boys is so freaking beautiful. I haven't ever seen it. Thank you!

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  7. And now I feel bad for "not knowin nothin" about Simon & Garfunkel (other than name recognition). Now I'm headin over to YouTube. I bet I know their songs, just not them.

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  8. This documentary has been playing a lot. I saw it (in parts) about three times already and ever since that first night have been listening to them over and over again. What beautiful, haunting harmonies. They've also been running a Judy Collins special from The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Temple of Dendur.

    Music is so powerful. I have those memories when I listen to Linda Ronstadt (which is often!) of being swept back to a younger version of myself and a different world. It's nice to remember who we were and celebrate who we've become.

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  9. Thank you for putting this stuff we do and remember and listen to and ache for into words -

    and I was at Woodstock but none of it lasts.

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  10. Early spring 1968, awakening to "Scarborough Fair" on the clock radio, every morning or so it seemed, as though the day couldn't start without it. Music helps me believe that all time exists at once, the ability to be there then yet know all the selves we've been since. I thought I remembered "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" as part of the Concert for Heroes after 9/11. Songs for America and for our enduring, untarnished hopes. This is lovely, Angella. Thank you. xo

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