Simon and Garfunkel – The Only Living Boy in New York
Like the ancient mariner I am continuing an endless voyage of harping on to strangers and friends alike about how underrated Paul Simon is. He has to be one of the very greatest songwriters of our time. And in my opinion the very best of all his songs is this one.
Despite its lushness and grandness it is incredibly intimate. It’s a love song for a friend. He wrote it about Art Garfunkel who was heading off at the time to make a movie in Mexico. He refers to him as Tom which is a reference to their early days together when they were called Tom and Jerry. His words being a show of support, a sort of a you’ll be fine, don’t worry.
The line ‘Let your honesty shine, like it shines on me’ still brings tears to me eyes. Love between friends is rarely explored in songs and the idea of admiring someone’s honesty almost never. The idea of honesty in lyrics is incredibly appealing to me. Likewise the ideas of innocence or decency. It is such a difficult thing to describe and write about yet something so lovable in a person. It is cutting everything else out of the equation and looking right into the soul – and when you really think of that and focus on it’s meaning, it can be quite breathtaking.
While this track is sentimental it is so in wholly pure way and fortunately doesn’t suffer from some of the sickly sweet production of some other Simon and Garfunkel tracks. I have no doubt it will remain a favourite of mine until the day I die.
Incidentally honesty features greatly in my next choice too. It must be in the air