Yeah, I know. Six AM is a ridiculous time to be writing about an album, but seeing as I'm a musical robot, I need no sleep. Plus, most of my writing is done at ridiculous hours, since that's when I listen to most albums. I haven't the patience during the day, really, nor do I have the time. In short: I do weird shit at night. Deal with it, you get a blog post, I get to ramble about Simon & Garfunkel. My robot brain calculates the odds at: WIN/WIN!
So Rob's right- the TWO THOUSANDS (does that still make anyone else go "JESUS! IT'S THE FUTURE!"?) are winding down, and I can think of no better time to completely disregard the past decade and focus on something I actually enjoy listening to! Yes, something critics have already universally acclaimed, rather than weeding through some of the utter shit that's come out in the last decade. Not that there haven't been good albums! The 00's gave us The Moon And Antarctica, More Adventurous, Regina Spektor's entire canon, Sigur Ros, the influx of brit musicians... The list goes on. But it's also given us T-Pain, MIMS, Lady Gaga (though I will admit some of her finely-processed crap can be catchy), American Idol, and other such abominations.
So on to something that's going to endure, amIrite? 'course I am.
Simon & Garfunkel.
I'm talking Bridge Over motherfuckin' Troubled Water (and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, but that's a few scrolls down) guys. Also known as one of the greatest albums ever that's not by the Beatles (hell- I think it even gives the White Album a run for it's money in my book). Wherever it ranks on your list, it SHOULD be on your list. If it's not, you're a cretin! I kid, but seriously. If you've been living under (or are, in some cases) a rock and have not listened to this fine masterpiece, do it. I'll even wait here while you do! That's the convenience of the internets.
Now, I had not heard this album until this year. Sacrilege, I know. But you have to keep in mind, my robot youth was sheltered in classical music. Not only am I young, I'm the least culturally aware young person ever. Rob sometimes fails to notice this sometimes and mopes about having more time on this earth to listen to great music and even experience some of it live. I know, I don't get it either.
Back on topic! When I first heard Bridge Over Troubled Water (the first track on the album, not the album itself), I was like "yeah, this is great, but these people don't know how to make an album", because the sheer beauty and power of that track made me cry. Not gonna lie, I felt like I needed a cigarette after it. So my first thoughts were something along the lines of "why would they stick such a great track at the beginning? Don't they know anything about a finale?". Sure, the best track gets the customer hooked and willing to buy the album, but there's certain rights of showbusiness that need to be followed here.
Then I listened to the rest of the album, and I discovered why. Bridge Over Troubled Water is transcendent as a whole. Every track was pure artistry, reminiscent of a time where people used music to escape their problems. I was totally and entirely in love. I mean, I would marry this album if it popped out of my computer and asked (probably after kicking it a few times and screaming in fright, but the sentiment is there). I cannot properly convey how GOOD this album is. It is impeccable. It has no weak points. I've never heard an album like this; even some of the Beatles albums have their thin spots. This... doesn't. Granted, it ascribes to a certain aesthetic and those who are fans of things like Usher and Slayer will probably not appreciate the beauty that is Bridge Over Troubled Water (and also- why the fuck are you reading a blog about actual music? Go back into your holes!).
If my love isn't enough to convince you, how about specific tracks to love? Sample a bit? Believe me when I say there's nothing on this album that's better or worse then another.
There's a song that Simon & Garfunkel did called The Boxer. You may have heard of it! It goes "Lie-la-lie, lie-la-lie-lie lie-la-lie, lie-la-lie" etc. (Humming doesn't really translate to text very well, does it?) For those of you who are uninformed, The Boxer is one of the most heartbreaking yet heartwarming ballads ever sung by the human voice. The lyrics are as artful as the melody. It's pure poetry set to pure music. Don't believe me? Listen to it, and if you're not at least taking a deep, shaking breath at the line "I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains" then you are obviously Mitt Romney because you are even more of a soulless automoton than I am.
Yeah, that's on this album. So is Cecilia, the quintessential song about loving a girl who treats you bad and how, despite what she does to you, you take her back anyway. This is another song that is pure goddamn poetry, and it's performed exquisitely to boot. For example: "Jubilation! She loves me again!" You can almost hear the utter joy in their voices, and it is set to music in such a way that reflects that joy.
Now, keep in mind, this album is comparable to a perfect evening in a luxurious mansion, but your lover is missing. You're still pretty happy to be in the mansion eating (insert favorite food here), but there's a note of melancholy to it. Under that note of melancholy, though, is a note of hope that the night will pass and your lover will be there in the wee hours of the morning, happy to see you! That's just how Bridge Under Troubled Water works (and, for the record, it does end with an alternate take of the opening track- Jubilation!).
Now, if you're looking for the "hi, I reflect life!" album, look no further than Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Scarborough Fair is probably the most instantly recognizable song off this album, with hollow and haunting harmonies that reflect the loneliness of a lover lost (try saying THAT ten times fast with your tongue cut out). This is actually a traditional folk song, but it is arranged in such a perfect style for S&G it might as well be theirs. It has this almost ancient, mourning feel to it that simply astounds me every time I hear it. The delicate weaving of the canticle within the melody only enhances the utter ghostliness of the whole experience.
Then you are hit with the almost foreign-sounding strains of Patterns, like a battle call of the Scots in it's drone and driving rhythm. In opposition to the lachrymose-haunting of the first track, this is almost an angry haunting, like remembering a murder victim. The song is fairly self-explanitory: "My life is made of patterns that can scarcely be controlled."
Honestly, I could go on forever about each track on this album, and I probably will someday. For now, there's only one more track I need to call your attention to:
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy). I kid you not when I say this stuff is pure musical crack, and damn do I wanna keep on smoking. Good news is- it's cheaper and there's no nasty side effects other than humming it CONSTANTLY. Again, if you do not smile at this song, you are Mitt fucking Romney, and you should gtfo.
"Hello lamp-post, whatcha knowin'? I come to watch your flowers growin'! Ain't 'cha got no rhymes for me? Doo-doo-doo-doo, feelin' groovy!" That sounds silly out of context, but once you hear the whispery-soft happiness that is the melody, you will be addicted. Hello, I'm your new dealer! This song is as if someone captured pure carefree happiness in music and then found exactly the right words to express it. This song is the sun warming on your face. It's the first crocus of spring after a long winter. It's puppies and rainbows and everything else that's good in this hellish world, without being super-cheesy.
Since I am feeling the urge to listen to Feelin' Groovy on repeat again (and again and again and again), I shall sum up this post in short, intentionally choppy sentences: the two thousands gave us Usher. Listen to Simon & Garfunkel.
Stay groovy! Or you will be exterminated.