The Sound Of Silence

“I had a happy childhood. My mother was a teacher, but she quit to raise me and my younger brother. The thing about my mother was that she was extremely supportive. Not that my father wasn’t, but my mother was the first nourishing person in my life. She made me feel as if I could take my needs very seriously, because she did. By the time I was 12 or 13, I felt that I was special, because I could play the guitar and write songs. That meant I could get girls normally couldn’t since I was shorter than everybody else. The main thing about playing the guitar, though, was that I was able to sit by myself and play and dream. And I was always happy doing that. I used to go off in the bathroom, because the bathroom had tiles, so it was a slight echo chamber. I’d turn on the faucet so that water would run – I like that sound, it’s very soothing to me – and I’d play. In the dark. “Hello darkness, my old friend / I’ve come to talk with you again”. Well, that’s the first line. Then it drifts off into some other things. I’ve always believed that you need a truthful first line to kick you off into a song. You have to say something emotionally true before you can let your imagination wander.”Paul Simon (399)
“The song was written a year before it was recorded on Wednesday Morning, so that puts it in ’62, ’63, I guess – two years before it came out as a hit single. So, it’s written about a feeling I had then. [In which case the song can have nothing to do with the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964 and is likely to have been completed before the assassination of JFK (two popular interpretations as to the song’s meaning) – Ed].”Paul Simon (546)

The Only Living Boy In New York

“That was written about Artie’s going off to make Catch 22 in Mexico.”Paul Simon (401)

Homeward Bound

“That was written in Liverpool when I was traveling. What I like about that is that it was a very clear memory of Liverpool station and the streets of Liverpool and the club I played at and me at age 22. It’s like a snapshot, a photograph of a long time ago.”Paul Simon (402)
“I was working in folk clubs around Liverpool and I wanted to get back to London. I missed my girl and my friends. It was kind of depressing. I was living out of suitcases, getting on trains every day and going to the next place. It wasn’t a pleasant ten days. I did like the north of England — the people. I got very homesick for London and that’s how I wrote it.”Paul Simon (831)

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) 

“I spent most of the year 1965 living in England, and at the end of that year in December, I came back to the United States, “Sound of Silence” had become a big hit, and I had to make this adjustment from being relatively unknown in England to being semi-famous here, and I didn’t really swing with it. It was a very difficult scene to make, and I was writing very depressed-type songs until around June of last year. I started to swing out of it, I was getting into a good mood, and I remember coming home in the morning about 6 o’clock over the 59th Street Bridge in New York, and it was such a groovy day really, a good one, and it was one of those times when you know you won’t be tired for about an hour, a sort of a good hanging time, so I started to write a song that later became the 59th Street Bridge Song or Feelin’ Groovy.”Paul Simon (403)

April Come She Will

“When I was living in England, about three years ago, four years ago, I worked in a club in a town called Swindon. It’s about 100 miles north of London. I spent the night with a friend of mine in a smaller village called Great Coxswell, not that it means anything, no pun intended. We’d stayed up all night and talked and I said to her “Let’s go out in the morning and do it” We went out at dawn and she recited an English nursery rhyme, it was a children’s rhyme and it was about a cuckoo, a bird. It went “April come she will. May she will stay, June she’ll change her tune. July she will fly. August die she must”.”Paul Simon (404)


“There is an area of London called Soho. Soho is roughly equivalent to Greenwich Village in New York. It has a lot of coffee houses, folk clubs, beat clubs and I worked there often and I used to go and see friends who were working there, so I was in and out of Soho very very often. One day I got caught in a downpour and I stepped inside St Anne’s Cathedral, which is on a little park in Soho, St Anne’s Cathedral. I was impressed with the sermon that I heard being delivered. What impressed me was that it didn’t say anything, nothing. When you walked out of there, it didn’t make any difference whether you walked in, unless you dug stained glass windows you know. Because the meek are inheriting nothing, nothing and that’s the basis of this song called “Blessed”.”Paul Simon (403)

The Boxer

“”The Boxer” was a really nice record. I like to listen to that record I think I was reading the Bible around that time. That’s where I think phrases such as ‘workman’s wages’ came from, and ‘seeking out the poorer quarters’. That was biblical. I think the song was about me: everybody’s beating me up, and I’m telling you now I’m going to go away if you don’t stop.”Paul Simon (405)

A Most Peculiar Man

“Dealt with a suicide. It was written in England, because I saw a newspaper article about a guy who committed suicide.”Paul Simon (546)

A Poem On The Underground Wall

“That was written about Whitechapel tube station [in London – Ed].”Paul Simon (832)

Kathy’s Song

“It’s about London.”Paul Simon (832)

Save The Life Of My Child

“As a song, I didn’t really pull it off. It was a nice idea but I didn’t really understand the idea. I was dealing with surrealism and I didn’t really have my skill down yet. It’s a song about a kid who’s standing on a roof and people are screaming and running and he flies away at the end. So something about its subject matter is limited. It’s not a very inventive surrealistic sketch.”Paul Simon (833)