I still remember my 4th form english teacher teaching us poetry. As she fluttered about the room handing us each a piece of paper with the poem we were going to study we all rolled our eyes, preparing ourselves for some ancient ode written in language difficult to read. Instead we were handed the lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel’s The Boxer and Sounds of Silence. Mrs Smith went about gushing that Paul Simon was the most wonderful writer there ever was and even if we learnt his poetry by listening to music instead of reading the words on a page, it was still the best education we could get.
Mrs Smith was a teacher I REALLY related to.
This morning when I awoke to the news the lyric king and Sting are going to play the Bowl of Brooklands in my home town of New Plymouth next January, I was immensely excited.
Since then, my favourite track by Simon has been on repeat.
The Boxer is a timeless song. It tells a story that touches every listener, this is proven by its popularity throughout the ages. The fact it’s had almost three million views on Youtube demonstrates that it’s never been lost on the younger generations like my own.
The tune, with an intricate guitar melody, delicately picked, cuts right to the soul. It’s the sort of sound that makes you sit up and listen, even if this isn’t your typical genre of music. The vocals from Simon and Garfunkel showcase their famous harmonies. Their two tones come together in a humming sort of resonance. In each verse of the song the vocals are velvety and lullaby-like. But of course that’s not the only element we hear from the singers, the chorus erupts into life in a catchy, repetitive bout. A great build up in tempo.
Best of all is the unique sound which I can’t imagine working in any song but this – the bass harmonica. Similar sounding to a didgeridoo the harmonica makes entry to the song in the second verse, adding a funky, more upbeat undertone to the song. It brings a bit of meat to it.
But of course the star is the magical lyrics. Simon’s soft and delicate voice compliments the melancholic words perfectly. He tells a story like no other, really encapuslating a moment for every person listening to one of his songs. His words are simple, nothing complicated yet they resonate with everyone one way or another. It’s an art we don’t see often in songs today. Simon should be a role model to all.
” When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station running scared
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places only they would know. “
I’m already hanging out to see Paul Simon bring this to life on stage come January. I hope I’ll bump into Mrs Smith there.