Like most individuals, I was extremely troubled by the events that transpired at the Boston Marathon. I found myself searching for something that would make me feel better, something that would be soothing. Nothing seemed to help until I listened to the Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel album, Bridge Over Troubled Water. Though released in 1970, it seems to provide relevant messages for these times. All of the lyrics, with the exception of the cover of an Everly Brothers song, were written by Paul Simon. Here is a track-by-track look at the album, starting with lyrical excerpts.
“When you’re down and out. When you’re on the street. When evening falls so hard, I will comfort you/I’ll take your part. Oh, when darkness comes. And pain is all around … Your time has come to shine. All your dreams are on their way.”
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” – This is a song about human beings facing crisis. In times of crisis, we need the better humans among us, or guardian angels, to rise and protect us. We saw both the best and worst of humanity in Boston. The song reminds us that a better day is on the way.
“I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet. Yes I would.”
“El Condor Pasa (If I Could)” – Paul Simon added lyrics to a Peruvian/Andean song. In its way, it celebrates multiculturalism, like the national flags that lined the end of the Boston marathon course near the finish line. We will find strength in diversity.
“Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart. You’re shaking my confidence daily.”
“Cecilia” – The protagonist of the song comes face-to-face with life’s imperfections. He loves a girl who is unfaithful to him, she shakes his confidence daily. While our own sense of confidence was shaken and bruised by recent events, the music’s energy reminds us of the simple joy of life and living. The sun rises tomorrow morning over Boston.
“Home is where I want to be.”
“Keep the Customer Satisfied” – The traveling performer wants to return home. Boston has served as a second home to many college graduates, for whom the bombings – as President Obama expressed – felt quite personal. The senselessness of events made us feel exhausted like the traveling troubadour.
“I can’t believe your song is gone so soon.”
“So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” – This is a song that feels both like a dream and its conclusion. It signals the end of something, perhaps the end of the days that we take safety at sporting events for granted.
“He carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down.”..
“The Boxer” – The people of Boston may get knocked down, but they get back up.
“I wonder how your engines feel?”
“Baby Driver” – This is Simon’s song about his family in which he pays tribute to sports, in the form of auto racing. Life and athletic competition will go on.
“Half of the time we’re gone and we don’t know where.”
“The Only Living Boy in New York City” – The song is about isolation. No doubt some Bostonians, in virtual lock-down for days, felt like the only living man or woman in the city.
“Something is wrong and I need to be there.”
“Why Don’t You Write Me” – We all feel apprehension over events we cannot control.
“Hello loneliness, I think I’m going to cry … Hello emptiness.”
“Bye Bye, Love” – Tears and hollow feelings ruled the day. The loss expressed in this song was echoed in the pain felt by those mourning the three persons killed in the bombings.
“Ask me and I will play all the love that I hold inside.”
“Song for the Asking” – The nation displayed its love for the city and people of Boston during this fateful week.
“Sail on by. Your time has come to shine. Your dreams are on their way.” (Title track)
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