Monday, April 3, 2017

Musical Meanderings but with a Conclusion.

In the summer of 1969, KJR Seattle played the latest single from Simon and Garfunkel. It was an opus of over five minutes long. Frankly, I don't recall what I thought of the song at the time.

Now I live in Canada. Canada has what is known as the Can(adian )Con(tent) regulations. That means that there is a requirement that so much of a radio station's playlist has to be performed or written or produced by a Canadian or recorded in Canada. It is on a point system. The more categories it satisfies, the more points it gets.

Yes, that mean there is a bunch of crap on the radio. (TV also has similar requirements. TV production is, by and large, underwritten by the government. Most of it stinks. I was once listening to a news-talk station from Vancouver. A caller phoned in and was talking about a program that had been canceled by its Canadian network but was going to be picked up by a U.S. cable network. The caller said, "I know this won't sound right, but it does not look Canadian." In other words, it was not crap.)

But anyway: the CanCon regulations were put in place in the early '70's to combat -- not the American music, but rather the music from the UK that was dominating the airways.

That takes us to 2009. Fay and I were in the UK. After a few days I finally found the radio in our rental car. It was a Mercedes -- which in Europe is probably looked at as is a Ford Fusion in the U.S. I found an oldies station that I had previously discovered on the internet.

I was somewhat surprised. it was almost as though they were required to AVOID playing music from the U.K. Most of it was American. I think I heard two U.K. song per hour. That is not to say they had a large playlist. One song that they tended to play a great deal (I don't know how many times I heard it there) was one that never got too much airplay in the U.S. It was the song I heard on KJR in 1969.

I have grown to really appreciate the song. If anything could be said to be one of Paul Simon's shining hours, it would be this song.

This song is cinematic to me. It builds on a story with its lyrics. However, I think it continues to build on the picture painted by the lyrics even after the "words" have finished.

I know someone who thinks that the end of this song is just as boring and redundant as the end of Hey Jude. I disagree.

While Hey Jude continues doing the same old thing over and over (radio in the U.K. pays by "needle time" -- how long the song is played on the radio), The Boxer builds to a climax. To me it represents the pain and hurt the boxer goes through in his life. More and more instruments come in. More voices come in. Finally, all of that goes away and soft guitars play with soft percussion, then the song ends.

That is just not the end of the song. It is the end of the boxer's life. He had found peace at last.

May we all.


  1. Beautiful song with very clever lyrics. Paul Simon is a master story teller.

    Nice post Matt.

  2. This whole album is exceptional. I played it until it fell into dust...The Boxer is one of my faves. :)

    In other music news, I read that Barry Manilow came out as gay. I'm shocked, I tells ya. Who could have guessed? Bwahahaha!!!

    1. I'm shocked, I tells ya. Who could have guessed?

      Hmm...there weren't really any clues, were there, except:
      he was Bette Midler's pianist (which began at the "Continental Baths" in NYC)/a show tune aficionado/always had girlish hair/wore "gay" outfits/married to a femal for less than a year in the 60's and never seen to be in a romantic relationship with a woman since.

      Well gee golly gosh... no clues there then.

    2. The human neo-cortex evolved to lie to other parts of the brain.

  3. I love The Boxer, and everything from that album. When I was in high-school, my best friend (ended up being the Best Man at my {first} wedding) and I knew all the words, and sang it often at parties.

    Of course, my other best friend & I knew all the words to "Alice's Restaurant" and sang that often, at parties.

    Sorry to say that Arlo Guthrie's silliness went over better than Paul Simon's poetry.

    1. We used to sing along to Alice's Restaurant hanging out with the guys who played guitar after work at Greenpeace. Thirty six years ago.

  4. Also sad to say, that apparently it was heated arguing about "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" that led to the breakup of Simon & Garfunkle. How's that for irony?

  5. Went off and listened. It has been so long I'd forgotten just how good this was.

    1. Something I like about the great classic country songs is how they use simple words with great eloquence.

      Some earlier Paul Simon songs lean in a pretentious direction. As he got older he simplified his lyrics, and they became more powerful as a result. With the BOTW album I think Simon really hit his stride.