Fakin’ It (as made famous by Simon and Garfunkel)

“Fakin’ It” is a song recorded by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel for their fourth studio album, Bookends (1968). The song was initially released only as a single on July 7, 1967 through Columbia Records. It was later compiled into the second half of Bookends. The song’s lyrics stem from Simon wondering about his occupation and life had he been born a century earlier.

The song was a minor hit in the United States, peaking at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Shortly before production began in earnest on Simon & Garfunkel’s fourth LP, Bookends, Paul Simon hit a dry spell in his writing.[1] Amid concerns for Simon’s idleness, Columbia Records chairman Clive Davis arranged for up-and-coming record producer John Simon to kick-start the recording.[2]

His first session with the group was for “Fakin’ It” in June 1967.[3] The duo were signed under an older contract that specified the label pay for sessions (“As a folk duo, how much could recording costs be?” said John Simon).[3] Simon & Garfunkel took advantage of this indulgence, hiring viola and brass players, as well as percussionists.[4] When the viola players arrived, the duo were so taken with the sound of the musicians tuning their instruments before recording that they spent nearly all night (at Columbia’s expense) trying to find the random sound.[4]

In “Fakin’ It”, melodies are occasionally deleted to suit lyrics, but the song generally follows a similar chord structure and melodic outline over a “funky rock beat” that sonically references the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”.[5] The song opens with an “unearthly rhythmic sound” (that some critics felt owed a debt to the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever”) that was an example of Simon & Garfunkel’s desire to push the limits of studio recording.[6] The song finds the protagonist mulling over his insecurities and shortcomings.[7] It has been suggested that “Fakin’ It” may be an allegory for Simon’s relationship with Art Garfunkel.[8]

Near the middle of the song is a brief spoken word vignette featuring a British woman entering a tailor shop and greeting the owner: “Good morning, Mr. Leitch. Have you had a busy day?”[6] The woman performing was singer Beverley Martyn, who was friends with singer-songwriter Donovan. Donovan’s last name was Leitch, hence the name’s use in the song.[6] Simon knew Martyn from his days living in England, and she was often around the duo’s friend circle at the time of recording.[9]

The lines about being a tailor arose from an occasion in which Simon was wondering what his occupation would be had he been born a century earlier. “During some hashish reverie I was thinking to myself, ‘I’m really in a weird position. I earn my living by writing songs and singing songs. It’s only today that this could happen,'” he explained.[9] He settled on the idea that he may have been a tailor, and likely from Vienna or Hungary, as that is where his ancestors migrated from.[6] Simon’s father revealed to him later that, coincidentally, his grandfather was a tailor also named Paul from Vienna.[6]

“Fakin’ It” was issued as a single that summer and found only modest success on AM radio; the duo were much more focused on the rising FM format, which played album cuts and treated their music with respect.[10] The running time of the song was actually 3 minutes and 14 seconds. Radio stations at the time resisted playing songs lasting longer than three minutes, so Paul Simon had the time “faked” to read 2:74 on the label. Simon preferred the album version of “Fakin’ It” to its single release. He felt the stereo remix “greatly improved” the original mix, which he considered to be “sloppy.”[9]

It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US at number 81 in the issue dated July 29, 1967,[11] rising over the course of five weeks to its peak of position 23 on September 2, 1967.[12] It last appeared on the chart September 16, 1967 at position 65, before dropping out.[13]

Sounds of Silence (as made famous by Simon and Garfunkel)

“The Sound of Silence”, originally “The Sounds of Silence”, is a song by the American music duo Simon & Garfunkel. The song was written by Paul Simon over a period of several months in 1963 and 1964. A studio audition led to the duo signing a record deal with Columbia Records, and the song was recorded in March 1964 at Columbia Studios in New York City for inclusion on their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M..

Released in October 1964, the album was a commercial failure and led to the duo breaking apart, with Paul Simon returning to England and Art Garfunkel to his studies at Columbia University. In the spring of 1965, the song began to attract airplay at radio stations in Boston, Massachusetts, and throughout Florida. The growing airplay led Tom Wilson, the song’s producer, to remix the track, overdubbing electric instrumentation. Simon & Garfunkel were not informed of the song’s remix until after its release. The single was released in September 1965.

The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending January 1, 1966, leading the duo to reunite and hastily record their second album, which Columbia titled Sounds of Silence in an attempt to capitalize on the song’s success. The song was a top-ten hit in multiple countries worldwide, among them Australia, Austria, West Germany, Japan and the Netherlands. Generally considered a classic folk rock song, the song was added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” in 2013 along with the rest of the Sounds of Silence album.

Originally titled “The Sounds of Silence” on the album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., the song was re-titled for later compilations beginning with Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits.[2][3]

Simon and Garfunkel became interested in folk music and the growing counterculture movement separately in the early 1960s. Having performed together previously under the name Tom and Jerry in the late 1950s, their partnership had since dissolved when they began attending college. In 1963, they regrouped and began performing Simon’s original compositions locally in Queens. They billed themselves “Kane & Garr”, after old recording pseudonyms, and signed up for Gerde’s Folk City, a Greenwich Village club that hosted Monday night performances.[4] In September 1963, the duo performed three new songs, among them “The Sound of Silence”, getting the attention of Columbia Records producer Tom Wilson, who worked with Bob Dylan.[4][5] Simon convinced Wilson to let him and his partner have a studio audition, where a performance of “The Sound of Silence” got the duo signed to Columbia.[6]

The song’s origin and basis remain unclear, with multiple answers coming forward over the years. Many believe that the song commented on the John F. Kennedy assassination, as the song was released three months after the assassination.[4] Simon stated unambiguously in interviews however, “I wrote The Sound of Silence when I was 21 years old”,[7][8] which places the timeframe firmly prior to the JFK tragedy, with Simon also explaining that the song was written in his bathroom, where he turned off the lights to better concentrate.[5] “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’.”[9] In a more recent interview, Simon was directly asked, “How is a 21 year old person thinkin’ about the words in that song?” His reply was, “I have no idea.”[10] According to Garfunkel, the song was first developed in November, but Simon took three months to perfect the lyrics, which he claims were entirely written on February 19, 1964.[11] Garfunkel once summed up the song’s meaning as “the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly internationally but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other.”[5]

To promote the release of their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., the duo performed again at Folk City, as well as two shows at the Gaslight Café, which went over poorly. Dave Van Ronk, a folk singer, was at the performances, and noted that several in the audience regarded their music as a joke.[12] “‘Sounds of Silence’ actually became a running joke: for a while there, it was only necessary to start singing ‘Hello darkness, my old friend…’ and everybody would crack up.”[13] Wednesday Morning, 3 AM sold only 3,000 copies upon its October release, and its dismal sales led Simon to move to London, England.[14] While there, he recorded a solo album, The Paul Simon Songbook (1965), which features a rendition of the song, titled “The Sounds of Silence”.[15]

The original recording of the song is in D♯ minor, using the chords D♯m, C♯, B and F♯. Simon plays a guitar with a capo on the sixth fret, using the shapes for Am, G, F and C chords.[16] The vocal span goes from C♯4 to F♯5 in the song.[17]

Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. had been a commercial failure before producer Tom Wilson was alerted that radio stations had begun to play “The Sound of Silence” in spring 1965. A late-night disc jockey at WBZ in Boston began to spin “The Sound of Silence” overnight, where it found a college demographic.[18] Students at Harvard and Tufts University responded well, and the song made its way down the East Coast pretty much “overnight”, “all the way to Cocoa Beach, Florida, where it caught the students coming down for spring break.”[18] A promotional executive for Columbia went to give away free albums of new artists, and beach-goers only were interested in the artists behind “The Sound of Silence”. He phoned the home office in New York, alerting them of its appeal.[19] An alternate version of the story states that Wilson attended Columbia’s July 1965 convention in Miami, where the head of the local sales branch raved about the song’s airplay.[20]

Folk rock was beginning to make waves on pop radio, with Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” and the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man” (also a Dylan song) charting high.[21] Wilson listened to the song several times, considering it too soft for a wide release.[18] Afterwards, he turned on the Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, which gave him the idea to remix the song, overdubbing rock instrumentation.[22][dubious – discuss] He employed musicians Al Gorgoni (and Vinnie Bell) on guitar, Bob Bushnell on bass, and Bobby Gregg on drums.[23] The tempo on the original recording was uneven, making it difficult for the musicians to keep the song in time.[21] Engineer Roy Halee employed a heavy echo on the remix, which was a common trait of the Byrds’ hits.[21] The single was first serviced to college FM rock stations, and a commercial single release followed on September 13, 1965.[20] The lack of consultation with Simon and Garfunkel on Wilson’s remix was because, although still contracted to Columbia Records at the time, the musical duo at that time was no longer a “working entity”.[21][24] It was not uncommon at the time for producers to add instruments or vocals to previously existing recordings and re-release them as new entities.

In the fall of 1965, Simon was in Denmark, performing at small clubs, and picked up a copy of Billboard, as he had routinely done for several years.[20] Upon seeing “The Sounds of Silence” in the Billboard Hot 100, he bought a copy of Cashbox and saw the same thing. Several days later, Garfunkel excitedly called Simon to inform him of the single’s growing success.[20] A copy of the 7″ single arrived in the mail the next day, and according to friend Al Stewart, “[Paul] was horrified when he first heard it … [when the] rhythm section slowed down at one point so that Paul and Artie’s voices could catch up.”[22] Garfunkel was far less concerned about the remix, feeling conditioned to the process of trying to create a hit single: “It’s interesting, I suppose it might do something, It might sell,” he told Wilson.[25]

“The Sound of Silence” first broke in Boston, where it became one of the top-selling singles in early November 1965;[20][26] it spread to Miami and Washington, D.C. two weeks later, reaching number one in Boston and debuting on the Billboard Hot 100.[27]

Throughout the month of January 1966 “The Sound of Silence” had a one-on-one battle with The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” for the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The former was No. 1 for the weeks of January 1 and 22 and No. 2 for the intervening two weeks. The latter held the top spot for the weeks of January 8, 15, and 29, and was No. 2 for the two weeks that “The Sound of Silence” was No. 1. Overall, “The Sound of Silence” spent 14 weeks on the Billboard chart.[28]

In the wake of the song’s success, Simon promptly returned to the United States to record a new Simon & Garfunkel album at Columbia’s request. He later described his experiences learning the song went to No. 1, a story he repeated in numerous interviews:[29]

I had come back to New York, and I was staying in my old room at my parents’ house. Artie was living at his parents’ house, too. I remember Artie and I were sitting there in my car one night, parked on a street in Queens, and the announcer [on the radio] said, “Number one, Simon & Garfunkel.” And Artie said to me, “That Simon & Garfunkel, they must be having a great time.” Because there we were on a street corner [in my car in] Queens, smoking a joint. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves.[30]

For his part, Garfunkel had a different memory of the song’s success:

We were in L.A. Our manager called us at the hotel we were staying at. We were both in the same room. We must have bunked in the same room in those days. I picked up the phone. He said, ‘Well, congratulations. Next week you will go from five to one in Billboard.’ It was fun. I remember pulling open the curtains and letting the brilliant sun come into this very red room, and then ordering room service. That was good.”[29][31]

Homeward Bound (as made famous by Simon and Garfunkel)

“Homeward Bound” is a song by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel written by Paul Simon and produced by Bob Johnston. The song was released as a single on January 19, 1966 by Columbia Records.

The song appears on the duo’s third studio album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966), although it was recorded during the sessions for their second album Sounds of Silence and included on that album in the UK. It was their second single, the follow-up to their enormously successful breakthrough hit “The Sound of Silence”. It performed very well domestically, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the charts for 12 weeks. Internationally, the song performed best in Canada, where it hit number two; it was also a top five hit in the Netherlands.

A live version of the song is included on the compilation Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits, and it was also performed during the duo’s legendary 1981 reunion, The Concert in Central Park.

“Homeward Bound” was written by Paul Simon after returning to England in the spring of 1964. He had previously spent time in Essex, and he became a nightly fixture at the Railway Hotel in Brentwood, beginning that April.[1] He was reeling from his brief period in the Greenwich Village folk scene, as well as the recording of his first album with Art Garfunkel, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which he anticipated would be a failure.[2] During this time, he met Kathy Chitty, who was working as a ticket-taker at the club. The two hit it off instantly, but it became clear that Simon desired to perform in London, resulting in an emotional farewell.[2] Following a performance in Liverpool, Simon was at Widnes railway station, waiting for the early morning milk train to London. He had been missing Chitty’s company and he began to write “Homeward Bound” on a scrap of paper.[3]

Chitty is mentioned in several other Simon & Garfunkel songs, most notably “Kathy’s Song” and “America”. In their 1969 hit “The Boxer”, Simon alludes to a railway station, a possible reference to “Homeward Bound”.[4] A plaque commemorating this claim to fame is displayed on the Liverpool bound platform of Widnes railway station.[5] Simon is quoted as saying “[i]f you’d ever seen Widnes, then you’d know why I was keen to get back to London as quickly as possible.”[6]

Hazy Shade of Winter (as made famous by Simon and Garfunkel)

“A Hazy Shade of Winter” is a song by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel, released on October 22, 1966, initially as a stand-alone single, but was subsequently included on the duo’s fourth studio album, Bookends (1968). The song peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1]

In 1987, The Bangles recorded a cover version of the song for the Less Than Zero soundtrack; that version peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.

The duo recorded “A Hazy Shade of Winter” during the sessions for Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966), but the song was not included on an album until 1968’s Bookends.[2]

“A Hazy Shade of Winter” follows a more rock-tinged sound, with a fairly straightforward verse-refrain structure.[3] The song dates back to Simon’s days in England in 1965. The song follows a hopeless poet, with “manuscripts of unpublished rhyme”, unsure of his achievements in life.[3]

The lyrics recall the transition from fall to winter, as suggested by the repetition of the final chorus of the song:

I look around,
leaves are brown
And the sky
is a hazy shade of winter

Look around,
leaves are brown
There’s a patch of snow on the ground.[4]
Author and disc jockey Pete Fornatale considered the lyrics evocative of, and standing in contrast with, those of John Phillips’ “California Dreamin'”.[5][6]

Mrs. Robinson (as made famous by Simon and Garfunkel)

“Mrs. Robinson” is a song by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel from their fourth studio album, Bookends (1968). Produced by the duo and Roy Halee, it is famous for its inclusion in the 1967 film The Graduate. The song was written by Paul Simon, who pitched it to director Mike Nichols alongside Art Garfunkel after Nichols rejected two other songs intended for the film. The song contains a famous reference to baseball star Joe DiMaggio.

“Mrs. Robinson” became the duo’s second chart-topper, hitting number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and peaking within the top 10 of multiple other countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Spain, among others. In 1969, it became the first rock song to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. The song has been covered by a number of artists, including Frank Sinatra, the Lemonheads, and Bon Jovi. In 2004, it finished at No. 6 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.

Simon & Garfunkel reached national fame in the United States in 1965–66, touring colleges and releasing a string of hit singles and albums. Meanwhile, director Mike Nichols, then filming The Graduate, became fascinated with the duo’s past two efforts, listening to them nonstop before and after filming.[2][3] After two weeks of this obsession, he met with Columbia Records chairman Clive Davis to ask for permission to license Simon & Garfunkel music for his film. Davis viewed it as a perfect fit and envisioned a best-selling soundtrack album.[4] Simon was not as immediately receptive, viewing movies as akin to “selling out”, but he agreed to write at least one or two new songs for the film after being impressed by Nichols’ wit and the script.[4] Leonard Hirshan, a powerful agent at William Morris, negotiated a deal that paid Simon $25,000 to submit three songs to Nichols and producer Lawrence Turman.[5]

Several weeks later, Simon re-emerged with two new tracks, “Punky’s Dilemma” and “Overs”, neither of which Nichols was particularly taken with.[5] Nichols asked if the duo had any more songs to offer, and after a break from the meeting, they returned with an early version of “Mrs. Robinson”. They had been working on a track titled “Mrs. Roosevelt”, and returned to perform it for Nichols. He was ecstatic about the song, later commenting, “They filled in with dee de dee dee de dee dee dee because there was no verse yet, but I liked even that.”[5] Garfunkel later expanded upon the song’s placement in The Graduate:

Paul had been working on what is now ‘Mrs. Robinson’, but there was no name in it and we’d just fill in with any three-syllable name. And because of the character in the picture we just began using the name ‘Mrs. Robinson’ to fit […] and one day we were sitting around with Mike talking about ideas for another song. And I said ‘What about Mrs. Robinson.’ Mike shot to his feet. ‘You have a song called “Mrs. Robinson” and you haven’t even shown it to me?’ So we explained the working title and sang it for him. And then Mike froze it for the picture as ‘Mrs. Robinson’.[6]

The final version of “Mrs. Robinson” was completed on February 2, 1968, at Columbia Studio A in New York City.[1] The recording was released more than three months after the release of The Graduate, but through its numerous radio plays became an important cross-promotion of the film during its initial run in theaters.

Simon’s inclusion of the phrase “coo-coo-ca-choo” is a homage to the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus”.[7]

References in the last verse to Joe DiMaggio are perhaps the most discussed. Simon, a fan of Mickey Mantle, was asked during an intermission on The Dick Cavett Show why Mantle was not mentioned in the song instead of DiMaggio. Simon replied, “It’s about syllables, Dick. It’s about how many beats there are.”[8] Simon met DiMaggio accidentally in a New York City restaurant, and the two immediately discussed the song. DiMaggio said “What I don’t understand, is why you ask where I’ve gone. I just did a Mr. Coffee commercial, I’m a spokesman for the Bowery Savings Bank and I haven’t gone anywhere!” Simon replied “that I didn’t mean the lines literally, that I thought of him as an American hero and that genuine heroes were in short supply. He accepted the explanation and thanked me. We shook hands and said good night.” In a New York Times op-ed in March 1999,[9] shortly after DiMaggio’s death, Simon discussed this meeting and explained that the line was meant as a sincere tribute to DiMaggio’s unpretentious heroic stature, in a time when popular culture magnifies and distorts how we perceive our heroes. He further reflected: “In these days of Presidential transgressions and apologies and prime-time interviews about private sexual matters, we grieve for Joe DiMaggio and mourn the loss of his grace and dignity, his fierce sense of privacy, his fidelity to the memory of his wife and the power of his silence.” Simon subsequently performed “Mrs. Robinson” at Yankee Stadium in DiMaggio’s honor the month after his death.[10][11]

“Mrs. Robinson” was awarded two Grammy Awards at the 11th Annual Grammy Awards in 1969. It became the first rock song to win Record of the Year (although the previous year’s “Up Up and Away” by the 5th Dimension could also be considered a contender) and it also was awarded the Grammy for Best Contemporary-Pop Performance – Vocal Duo or Group.[7]

The duo were asked to perform the song live at the ceremony, but they declined. Instead, they shot a video for the show set to the music that consisted of them “romping around Yankee Stadium,” a reference to the song’s lyrics concerning DiMaggio.[7]

“Mrs. Robinson” was ineligible for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, as a nominee must have been written exclusively for the film in which it appeared.[7]

Writer/actor/director Albert Brooks licensed Paul Simon’s music from “Mrs. Robinson” for his 1996 film Mother. Brooks and Monica Johnson wrote special lyrics for the song, which was recorded as “Mrs. Henderson,” and referenced Brooks’ character’s mother. Voice actors Steve Lively and Jess Harnell provided sound-alike vocals, impersonating Simon & Garfunkel on the track, which was produced by Marc Shaiman, who also composed and produced the film’s score. [12]

The film Rumor Has It… is based on the assumption that The Graduate is based on real events which become uncovered. The song “Mrs. Robinson” is featured in this film as well.

In early January 2010, after news of Iris Robinson (wife of Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson) having an extramarital affair with the (40 years younger) adult child of a family friend became public, a group was set up on Facebook attempting to get the song “Mrs. Robinson” to No.1 in the Official UK Singles Chart for that week via download sales. It received coverage in The Telegraph and other British media.[13][14] It also received coverage in gay-related publications because of the anti-gay principles of Peter Robinson.[15]