Paul Simon Michael Watts - Essay

Michael Watts

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Critics of Simon and Garfunkel … have complained not of eclecticism but of an academic feel that their music has had; as if care and attention has gone into the structure of the songs to the detriment of heart. Simon believes that at times this has been a valid criticism, that occasionally they have done a song so cleanly that it's distracted; that the performance has made it appear there was a lack of feeling, even though this was not the case when the song was written. (p. 15)

For reasons of personal artistic stature, ["Bridge Over Troubled Water"] is probably the most significant song [Simon] has ever written.

In another way, though, an earlier song, "Mrs Robinson," has great validity for him. He believes that this was the first time in a popular song Jesus was mentioned….

[People] have misunderstood the song. Where parables have been sought, he says there's a laugh, a joke. He thought the lyrics were funny, though they were sung perfectly straight. They had a "nasty, sarcastic humour" to them, which gave the song a sting in its tail. There's a comic quality, he remarked, to a lot of the new stuff, too.

Partly because of the arrangements, some songs fox the audience completely. Like "So Long Frank Lloyd Wright." To him that was a very funny song, but people took it seriously again. (p. 33)

Michael Watts, "A Most Peculiar Man," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), December 25, 1971, pp. 15, 33.