Wednesday Morning 3 a.m.

Wednesday Morning 3 a.m.: Simon & Garfunkel

Produced by Tom Wilson

Engineer Roy Halee

Recorded 10 March to 31 March 1964

Released: 19 October 1964
Columbia LP, CL 2249, USA

Re-released January 1966

Wednesday Morning 3.a.m. Simon & Garfunkel, USA Columbia 1964
Original US pressing has all sleeve notes by Art Garfunkel
Wednesday Morning 3.a.m. Simon & Garfunkel, CBS 63370, 1968
CBS version has song titles shifted up on the front sleeve
CBS sleeve notes. By Ralph J Gleason? Some are the Art Garfunkel US notes and his signature is still there.
If you compare, Gleason only did the first paragraph

Released in the UK:
CBS LP, 63370 UK 1968

CHART:

UK ALBUMS:
According to the Guinness / UK official charts, it reached #24 in November 1968
It did not enter the NME Album Chart at all.

US REISSUE in 1966: US Billboard #30

TRACKS

side oneside two
1 You Can Tell The World
(Bob Gibson / Bob Camp, Arr. Paul Simon)
1 He Was My Brother
(Paul Kane …i.e. Paul Simon)
2 Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
(Ed McCurdy)
2 Peggy-O
(Traditional, Arr. Paul Simon)
3 Bleecker Street
(Paul Simon)
3 Go Tell It On The Mountain
(Traditional. Arr. Paul Simon)
4 Sparrow
(Paul Simon)
4 The Sun Is Burning
(Ian Campbell. Arr. Paul Simon)
5 Benedictus
(Orlando di Lasso, Arr. Paul Simon / Art Garr)
5 The Times They Are A-Changing
(Bob Dylan. Arr. Paul Simon)
6 The Sounds of Silence
(Paul Simon)
6 Wednesday Morning 3 a.m.
(Paul Simon)

CD BONUS TRACKS (2001)]

13 Bleecker Street (demo 10 March 1964)
(Paul Simon)
14 He Was My Brother (Alt. Take One, 17 March 1964)
(Paul Kane)
15 The Sun Is Burning (Alt. Take 12 17 March 1964)
(Ian Campbell)

MUSICIANS
Paul Simon – acoustic guitar, banjo on Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream), vocal
Art Garfunkel – vocals
Barry Kornfeld- acoustic guitar
Bill Lee – double bass

Simon & Garfunkel albums aren’t reviled, but this one was rather ignored. It didn’t get a British release for several years after its US debut. By the time it came out in Britain, they had the Midas touch.

The releases

The Columbia US LP came out in November 1964. According to Peter Ames Carlin’s biography, Homeward Bound, it sold fewer than 1000 copies over the next year, and most of those were within New York City. By the time of its reissue, it had only sold 3000.

It had the rare accolade of release on open-reel tape:

A US single was released with Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. / Bleecker Street. They hadn’t noticed perhaps that Sounds of Silence was the standout track.

Wednesday Morning 3 a.m.: Simon & Garfunkel, CBS UK EP, June 1965

CBS, the British division of Columbia, did not select the album for UK release. Paul Simon came back to England after the release of the album, and did an early 1965 BBC radio show. CBS decided to release the four tracks he had played on the radio show (Bleecker Street, Sparrow, Wednesday Morning 3 a.m., Sounds of Silence) as an EP in June 1965. EPs were still important in Britain, where LP prices (based on time worked to earn the price for the average person) were much higher than in the USA. For jazz and folk releases, EPs were often the dominant choice … jazz and folk weren’t felt to be singles markets, and LPs were too expensive. I bought the EP, which was one of the batch stolen in the twenty years they resided in a pair of 7″ singles boxes untouched. The loss is what started me collecting 45s again.

While Paul Simon was in England, the producer Tom Wilson decided to overdub electric instruments on Sound of Silence to meet the folk-rock interest generated by The Byrds and Dylan. Simon and Garfunkel weren’t consulted, but found they had a major hit in their absence. Paul Simon was interviewed in 1965 by Alan Smith for New Musical Express, but the interview was shelved for three years because he wasn’t felt important enough.

Paul Simon: I’ve never had a hit though over in the States right now a song of mine called Sounds of Silence is beginning to move. So you understand, I don’t know how to react to it. The fact of the matter is, I don’t even feel it at all. You see, here I am in London, and this record is supposed to be selling well. I’m not even over there and I don’t know the excitement that’s going on. I’m here in England, and I’m going to folk clubs, and I’m working like I was working always. It hasn’t changed me at all.
1965 interview, eventually published New Musical Express 10 August 1968

Simon returned to the USA where they reformed the duo and recorded the Sounds of Silence LP with electric instruments, Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. got by-passed. With the increased interest, Columbia USA reissued the album in 1966. Its UK release had to wait until their popularity was at its height in 1968, though the EP was re-promoted.

The CBS UK release: It may say ‘P. 1964’ but it’s 1968

Discogs, usually the bible for releases, lists a UK CBS release as 1964. Other sources say it’s 1966 when the US version was reissued. It’s an easy mistake as the 1968 issue has P.1964, produced 1964, which is accurate. However, the CBS inner sleeve advertises 1968 albums. The catalogue number is 63370. The one before, 63369, is Mahalia Jackson Sings The Best Loved Hymns of Martin Luther King from 1968.

Earlier …

A little pre-history. Simon and Garfunkel had first recorded as Tom & Jerry, back in 1957. They had a #49 US hit in 1957 with Hey Schoolgirl on which Paul Simon’s father played double-bass. They toured and their later releases failed to chart … Our Song and That’s My Story. They kept trying until Art Garfunkel went off to college to take a degree.

Paul Simon kept on trying as a singer-songwriter under various names … Jerry Landis, True Taylor, Paul Kane, Tico and The Triumphs. Motorcycle by Tico and The Triumphs was a #99 US hit. Then The Lone Teen Ranger was a #97 hit as Jerry Landis. Thirty of his songs were recorded and released in that period.

Simon & Garfunkel: Allegro LP, 1967

Let’s be clear. Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. is neither the weakest nor least popular album with ‘Simon & Garfunkel’ on the cover. That goes to Simon & Garfunkel on Pickwick’s Allegro low-budget label, which managed to cobble together the Tom & Jerry, Jerry Landis, Paul Kane material and release it on the back of Simon & Garfunkel’s then massive popularity in 1967.

Paul Simon started work as a plugger for Edward B. Marks Music Corp (pitching songs to labels and artists) and also as a songwriter. The art of pitching appears in the film One Trick Pony – you have to be able to go in and play a song from the catalogue to prospective buyers. Traditionally that was on piano as all music companies had one for the purpose in the office. Paul Simon plugged songs using guitar and singing.

While there he wrote several songs which ended up on Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. Most prominent was He Was My Brother, which exists on Tribute Records as “The Voices of Paul Kane.” That was in 1963.

He Was My Brother was picked up and issued by Oriole Records. Paul Simon was already playing in England, but apparently Oriole had not made the connection between Kane and Simon.

Biographies disagree here. A couple say firmly that Oriole licensed the Tribute version for UK release.

Victorian Kingston’s biography says that Les Lowe of Lorna Music had great faith in Paul.

Suddenly, Les convinced someone. In May 1964, cut a single for Oriole, a Bond Street company, in a studio behind the most exclusive of London’s West End shop.
Victoria Kingston: Simon & Garfunkel: The Definitive Biography, 1996

Carlos Dominguez: The following spring, when Simon was living in the United Kingdom, he was surprised to learn that a small London publishing company had licensed the song, giving it to the hugely popular easy-listening crooner Val Doonican. Eager to show thanks, Simon dropped by the West End offices and encountered co-owner, Les Lowe. “This young American sat there in our tiny, cramped office, took off his duffle coat and took out his guitar and started to play strange songs,” Lowe told Marc Eliot. “I was very impressed and had no doubt that Paul’s work was unique.”  The impromptu session earned Simon a British publishing deal and a record contract. He opted to record “He Was My Brother” – a protest song eventually dedicated to the memory of Andrew Goodman, the murdered civil-rights worker and Simon’s Queens College classmate – with “Carlos Dominguez” as the B side. It was released in the U.K. early that May under the name Paul Kane, a pseudonym that reflected Simon’s love of Citizen Kane.
Jordan Runtagh, Rolling Stone, 13 October 2016

Carlos Dominguez: Jerry Landis, Oriole 45, May 1964

It was the B-side of Carlos Dominguez, both sides with a Paul Kane writer credit, and a Jerry Landis performer credit. It was released in May 1964. That was songwriter gold for Paul Simon, as Val Doonican, revered for his comfy cardigans and jumpers, had just covered it on his second LP The 13 Lucky Shades of Val Doonican. It was a UK #2 album in December 1964 and stayed on the chart for twenty-seven weeks. The tracks either side of it were Delaney’s Donkey and Paddy McGinty’s Goat. I wonder why Paul Simon never mentions it.

Neither version is on YouTube (if they are indeed two different takes). I have two CDs of early Paul Simon, both stop just before He Was My Brother.

Months before, Simon had already pitched He Was My Brother to Bob Dylan’s producer at Columbia, Tom Wilson. Wilson liked it enough to sign the duo for an album, which became Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. Simon had originally pitched it for a group called The Pilgrims.

Art Garfunkel: Paul was working for a publishing company. His job was to take the company’s catalogue and peddle it round to these various labels. Consequently he had connections with the major labels. In ’64 I was going to school uptown. We had been singing together (again) for about a year. After a certain point, Paul told Tom Wilson at ColumbiaRecords, ‘Well, I have some songs of my own that I never showed you. Would you be interested in hearing them? My friend’s uptown. He sings with me.’
Quoted in Simon & Garfunkel: A Musical Biography by John Svenson, 1984

They did a four song demo tape, and Columbia liked it.

There was a struggle over the group name. Paul Simon has said they were the first artistes to go out as two surnames. However, Ferrante & Teicher, Morecambe and Wise and Flanagan & Allan might disagree. The group name was a major issue. Paul Simon was concerned that they sounded like comedians. I guess ‘Garfunkel,’ like Ramsbotham or Gummidge is intrinsically a funny-sounding name. The sub text though was that they sounded Jewish, and perhaps more like a firm of accountants or lawyers. They insisted that people would not buy records from two middle-class Jewish men from Queens. The name change was not uncommon. Take Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman), Carole King (Carole Klein), Eydie Gorme (Eydie Garmezano).

Tom Wilson, as an African-American was incensed. He told them they were writing about prejudice and injustice, but were afraid to face anti-Semitism down in their own lives.

Tom Wilson: Finally, Norman Adler, who was the executive vice-president at Columbia Records, slammed his hand down on the table, “Gentlemen. This is 1964. Simon and Garfunkel. Next case.’
Quoted Joseph Morella & Patricia Barkey: Simon & Garfunkel: Old Friends (1981)

In the late 60s, Paul Simon spoke about their name.

Paul Simon: Our name is honest. I think if we lie, they are going to catch us. I always thought it was a big shock to people when Bob Dylan’s name turned out to be Bob Zimmerman. It was so important to people that he should be true.
Quoted Joseph Morella & Patricia Barkey: Simon & Garfunkel: Old Friends (1981)

This was rich from a man who had recorded as Jerry Landis, Paul Kane and True Taylor. Garfunkel used Art Garr on his arrangement credits too.

The album was ready, and with no prospect of touring before its release, Paul Simon returned to England.

This is when he was approached by the legendary British folk label, Topic Records (link to labels article). This had the status in the folk world of Folkways, Riverside or Vanguard.

Paul Simon met Bill Leader, Topic’s A&R man. Leader persuaded him to record an LP for Topic, and they recorded songs on a Revox in Leader’s back room. Paul Simon announced on his fliers that he was about to “cut an LP for Topic Records.” 

Peter Ames Carlin says in Homeward Bound, his Paul Simon biography:

The other Topic executives who heard the Revox tape shook their heads. How could an American songwriter possibly be a Topic artist?… the label had been created specifically to serve the British labour movement. Simon’s songs about American racism and civil rights had a spark of protest to them, but very little to do with Britain or British labourers and even less to with proper British folk music. So, no, thanks. Leader was less surprised than exasperated by his colleagues’ reactionary thinking. But that’s how the folk music world ran in Britain, where rules for what constituted a legitimate folk song, or an authentic folk performance of a song that was part of British folk culture were dictated almost entirely by songwriter, scholar and unapologetic Stalinist Ewan MacColl.

Paul Simon spent most of his time in England in 1964 and 1965, and wrote and recorded The Paul Simon Songbook. He was now contracted to Columbia, so he recorded at their CBS London Studio in New Bond Street … which had been the Oriole studio. CBS had recently bought Oriole so as to get their large pressing plants. It seems odd that they were interested enough to record a new album, but not enough to release the existing one in full.

What The Critics Said

Not a lot at the time. Few of them even saw a copy in 1964.

Simon didn’t have an album’s worth of original material at the time and the duo’s sound hadn’t really coalesced. The album as a whole sounds immature. It was about as good folk music as the Tom & Jerry material was good rock ‘n’ roll.
Simon & Garfunkel: A Musical Biography by John Svenson, 1984

Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. , their 1965 (sic) debut made no waves until producer Tom Wilson grafted electric guitar to a song called Sounds of Silence which proceeded to become one of the biggest and best folk-rock hits. Two stars **
Dave Marsh, Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1979

A fairly conventional folk album, two stars **
Rolling Stone Album Guide, 4th edition 2004

He and Garfunkel clambered aboard the folk bandwagon, borrowing protest from Dylan and harmonies from The Everly Brothers.
Bob Wolfinden

Throughout his career, Simon has never been a prolific writer, but for a debut, particularly at a time when the singer-songwriters in a folk mould were reaching an early zenith, Wednesday Morning 3.a.m. was a timid and restrained first effort.
Patrick Humphries: The Boy InThe Bubble: A Biography of Paul Simon 1988

(a positive review that cites others’ negatives)
Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. is often dismissed as a piece of juvenilia from the start of their career but it was made nearly a decade after Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel started making music. … The critic Ian MacDonald dismissed the album as “Dylan for thickos” “a classic example of the sophomoric immaturity of the American campus folk idiom of the time.”
John Lewis in Uncut: Simon & Garfunkel. The Ultimate Music Guide

The album

Tom Wilson wanted to attract the folk audience, and was well aware that twelve original songs wouldn’t do it. He’s right. I’d advise any new artist to include at least one already known song on a debut. They came down to six folk club specialities, and five originals and one re-created song, Benedictus.

Side One

In this series, I normally use British releases, but the US release pre-dates that by so long that it is selected here.

You Can Tell The World
(Bob Gibson / Bob Camp)

The song dates from the 1920s, but the version most likely to have inspired them would be Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers from 1951.

Attempting to capture the gospel fervour of You Can Tell The World or Go Tell It On The Mountain, Simon & Garfunkel lack the necessary passion. The image is of two choirboys, noses pressed against the windows of a Harlem revivalist church.
Patrick Humphries: The Boy InThe Bubble: A Biography of Paul Simon 1988

The sound of the strummed guitars and harmonies is sheer Everly Brothers, always a major influence. I saw them with The Everly Brothers in London.

Art Garfunkel, Phil Everly, Hyde Park., London

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
(Ed McCurdy)

Ed McCurdy had been going for a few years on Elektra. He wrote this back in 1950. I bought one of his LPs for the sleeve and title When Dalliance Was In Flower and Maidens Lost Their Heads. McCurdy had also recorded a (different) song with the title Homeward Bound in 1960. He was an archivist as much as a writer.

In 1950, Ed McCurdy came up to the hotel room of the Weavers, who were working in the vaudeville show at the Strand Theater on Broadway at the time. He just sang “Last Time I Had the Strangest Dream” which he’d just made up. The song has never been in the top-forty, but has gradually spread throughout much of the world, and has been translated into several languages.
 Ronald D. Cohen, Will Kaufman, Singing for Peace: Antiwar Songs in American History

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream had been done by Pete Seeger (1956), The Weavers (featuring Pete Seeger in 1960 at Carnegie Hall, released in 1963), Joan Baez (1962), The Kingston Trio (1963), the Chad Mitchell Trio (1962) and many others. Decades later, Johnny Cash recorded it twice. It has been translated and recorded in seventy-six languages and is the official song of the Peace Corps. When the Berlin Wall fell, the TV cameras showed a mass of East German children singing it.

Like Deportees, you were unlikely not to hear it in a folk setting in 1964/65. To me, it summons up my local folk club in a Bournemouth cellar every Monday night, with two girls with Joan Baez length hair and black polo necks singing it sweetly, but piercingly on a weekly basis. Incidentally, Paul Simon mentioned that he remembered playing a cellar club in Bournemouth in 1965. This was during a concert in the 2000s. I never missed a week. Did I see him? I don’t know.

McCurdy was the compere at the Bitter End in New York, where Simon & Garfunkel had performed. They’d seen him play the song, so their reference was the original.

There’s banjo on it, credited often to Paul Simon, though his co-guitarist Barry Kornfeld was a renowned banjo player. I suspect it’s him. Banjo and the pacifist lyric is a major nod to Pete Seeger.

A couple of years ago, I’d have dissed the Utopian pacifist lyric as a touch crass, but I write this in March 2022, and you really want someone to do a new version for today. I’d choose the weary gravitas of Johnny Cash from American VI: Ain’t No Grave.” Having said that, Simon & Garfunkel did it much better than Pete Seeger did. But not as touchingly as those two girls did in 1964.

Bleeker Street
(Paul Simon)

Bleecker Street: B-side f the US single release

Bleeker Street is in the heart of Greenwich Village, New York City. Key music clubs were there … The Bitter End, The Village Gate, The Cafe Au Go Go, Cafe Wha?, CBGB. Former residents include Herman Melville, James Agee, John Belushi, Robert de Niro, Alicia Keys. On the surface, it’s a bustling, lively, exciting place … but Simon teases out the “bleak” in Bleecker. It’s Bleecker Street after the crowds have gone. To me early morning. Grey, foggy. The lyrics sum up Christian imagery … shepherds and sheep.

Fog’s rollin’ in off the East River bank
Like a shroud it covers Bleecker Street
Fills the alleys where men sleep
Hides the shepherd from the sheep

then

A poet reads his sacrament
Holy, holy is his sacrament

The poet may reference Allan Ginsberg’s 1956 poem Howl!

Art Garfunkel: I confess that Bleecker Street (finished in October 1963), was too much for me at first. The song is highly intellectual, the symbolism extremely challenging. The opening line in which the fog comes like a “shroud” over the city introduces the theme of “creative sterility.” But it is the second verse which I find particularly significant:
Voices leaking from a sad cafe,
Smiling faces try to understand;
I saw a shadow touch a shadow’s hand
The first line is a purely poetic image. The second line touches poignantly on the human conditions of our time. To me, it shows the same perceptive psychological characterization as Sparrow – the “golden wheat” (“I would if I could but I cannot, I know”). The third line marks the first appearance of a theme that is to occupy great attention in later work- “lack of communication.”
The author says that the poets have “sold out” (“the poet writes his crooked rhyme”). The line “Thirty dollars pays your rent” reminds one of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Christ for thirty pieces of silver. Admittedly, the song is difficult to understand, but worth the effort.

Sleeve notes to the original LP

OK, and there’s considerable guitar picking in the background.

Sparrow
(Paul Simon)

Lovely tune, though the lyric is somewhat ‘Child’s Anthology of Verse.’

Art Garfunkel: The clarity of the song’s structure is matched by the simplicity of its subject. The song is asking ‘Who will love?’ Poetic personification is used for the answers: Greed (“the oak tree”), Vanity (“the swan”)., Hypocrisy (“the wheat”). I was greatly impressed with Sparrow, and I arranged the (two) songs for us.
Sleeve notes to the original LP.

It would be easy to take the piss out of Garfunkel’s sleeve notes, but he was very young.

The Biblical imagery continues through the album: Like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon was aware that the Bible was a source of inspiration for lyrics. None more so than on 1965’s Blessed, but also here:

For all I’ve created returns unto me
From dust ye were made and dust ye shall be.

Sparrow

It’s a repeated theme. Compare:

By the sweat of your face
You shall eat bread
till you return to the ground
for out of it you were taken
for you are dust
and to dust you shall return

Genesis 3:19

All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.
Ecclesiastes 3: 20

Another Biblical fable in the form of a nursery rhyme, about a bird who ‘has travelled far and wide and cries for rest’ The fluttering urgency of Barry Kornfeld’s acoustic guitar suggests flight, while the flamenco touches serve as a premonition of Simon’s experiments in world music. Simon’s biographer, Cornel Bonca, says it reads like a dutifully written high school English assignment, an accusation that might also apply to the closing title track.
John Lewis in Uncut: Simon & Garfunkel. The Ultimate Music Guide

Benedictus
(Arranged and adapted by Simon / Garr)

Garr was Art Garfunkel. He had recorded two solo singles under the name Artie Garr, Beat Love / Dream Alone (1959) and Private World / Forgive Me (1961). He wrote three of the sides. Jeff Raphael wrote Forgive Me.

Art Garfunkel: I’ve been at University now for about seven years. I’m in the graduate school there now, but when I was an undergraduate I took quite a few music courses, one of which got me very involved in 16th century music. And I researched, one week in the library, a two-part setting of a Benedictus from the church mass, originally done by Orlando de Lasso and brought it for the two of us to do. We rewrote the two parts and added guitar chords to it and put it into our first album for Columbia. This is our version of Benedictus
Tufts University, school paper 1964

Orlando di Lasso / Orlandus Lassus was a Flemish composer who lived from circa 1530 to 1594. He was chapel master of the papal church in Rome in 1553 and Palestrina took over from him.

Art Garfunkel had researched this 16th century chant in the New York Public Library, so it was his original contribution to the sessions. Bowed bass is an important part of it, well bass according to most notes. It sounds like cello to me . Add it to the two gospel songs and it makes three songs with Christian connections.

The Sounds of Silence
(Paul Simon)

A masterpiece.

From the chill welcome to darkness in the song’s first line, The Sounds of Silence clearly is, and remains, a major contribution to rock culture, and is perhaps the classic hymn of alienation, an outsider forced to exist in a city from which he draws no comfort.
Patrick Humphries: The Boy InThe Bubble: A Biography of Paul Simon 1988

The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls.

Every book of modern quotations you;ll ever pick up

That’s why they took their cover photo in a subway, but Columbia airbrushed out a large FUCK YOU from the wall behind them.

Lines have stuck in my head ever since I first heard it. At the most mundane level I can never even turn up my collar without I turned my collar to the cold and damp playing in my head. A large lighted sign conjures my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light, which split the night.

There are so many versions. It pops up again on The Paul Simon Songbook then the version with overdubbed instruments came on Sounds of Silence album. The duet version early on here is sublime. I do think Tom Wilson improved it with the electric instruments, but in fact it’s all there in the strummed acoustic guitars creating the rising drama. Paul Simon often performed it with solo guitar as the final encore. I think the best for me was Hyde Park 2018 with 50,000 (or was it 100,000) of us singing word-perfectly along with him.

Side Two

He Was My Brother
(Paul Kane)

Art Garfunkel: I first heard He Was My Brother in June 1963, the week after Paul Simon wrote it. Cast in the Bob Dylan mould of that time, thee was no subtlety in the song, no sophistication in the lyric; rather the innocent voice of an uncomfortable youth. The ending is joyously optimistic . I was happy to feel the way the song made me feel. It was clearly the product of considerable talent.
Sleeve notes to the original LP

Reading Art’s sleeve notes reminds me of seeing him in concert, solo in 2007. We had received a letter from the venue that morning (everyone did) reminding us that we MUST be seated before 7.30. Everyone was, and sat in silence for twenty minutes until it started, enlivened only by announcements that anyone wishing to go to the toilet must only do between songs. There were notices on every door saying “Loves, please do not open this door during the concert. It affects my concentration, Art.”

The only trouble was that they were handwritten and signed by Art. So by the interval, every single sign had been purloined. It was, indeed, precious, as are his sleeve notes. (Incidentally, he was extremely good solo).

He Was My Brother: Jerry Landis
Not the same version, recorded 1963, Oriole 45 1964

See above. Paul Simon did a version on Tribute Records in 1963 as ‘The Voices of Paul Kane’ then it was (licensed to Oriole / released by Oriole) as by Jerry Landis. The jury’s still out on whether the Oriole one is the same recording or done afresh in London. It’s the song that got them the Columbia audition.

This town’s gonna be your burying place …

Life followed fiction, when Paul Simon’s friend, Andrew Goodman, was murdered with two other Civil Rights workers by Ku Klux Klan members in Philadelphia, Mississippi on 21 June 1964. They were captured by the local sheriff and beaten to death, though evidence suggests Goodman was buried alive. A chilling premonition perhaps. it took 41 years for just one of the murderers to be brought to justice.

Paul Simon: It hit me really hard and that’s when I wrote my first serious song, He Was My Brother.
Quoted in John Swenson, Simon & Garfunkel: A Musical Biography 1984

At the time of the murder, the Oriole single (May 1964) was already in circulation. The Tribute single was over a year old, so the above is simply untrue. The first line is:

He was my brother, five years older than I

Simon was born in 1941. Goodman was two years younger born in 1943.

The murder affected Paul Simon greatly. The lyrics were tweaked, but it was not originally about Goodman, though later versions were dedicated to him and online sources say it was ‘about Andrew Goodman.’ It wasn’t, but it fitted. Perhaps he’d dedicated it to Goodman so often that reality and afterthought blurred. He recorded it again on The Paul Simon Songbook.

Peggy-O
(Traditional)

Not necessarily co-incidentally, this traditional song is on the 1961 debut album Bob Dylan, as Pretty Peggy-O.

Fennario is a mythical place, originating in Scots folk ballads (The Bonnie Lass of Fyvie). The origins are a classic ‘soldier’ and ‘maid’ story. The original Bonnie Lass of Fyvie has twelve verses, as covered by Ewan MacColl on the LP Popular Scottish Songs just before Dylan recorded it.

When it reached the USA in the 19th century, it was shortened, and become transformed into a Civil War (or given Louisiana, War of 1812?) tale. This is the Dylan take, where in the song the captain ends up buried down in Louisiana … Battle of New Orleans territory.

Bob Dylan starts it in his best Woody Guthrie imitation, I been round this whole country but I never yet found Fennario. His version has urgent harmonica driving it along.

Their version is reverential. Dylan tackled it like a stray dog, gnawing at a bone; Simon & Garfunkel forsake the song’s narrative drive and development, and their syrupy harmonies are no substitute.
Patrick Humphries: The Boy InThe Bubble: A Biography of Paul Simon 1988

I love the Dylan version, but I don’t agree with Patrick Humphries. Yes, Paul Simon would have been well aware that Dylan had done the song … in those early days he was quite antagonistic to Dylan.

However, it was a folk club standard. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem (a major Dylan inspiration) recorded it as The Maid of Fife-e-o in 1961. Joan Baez recorded it in 1962 as Fennario on Joan Baez in Concert Vol. 2. Judy Collins recorded it the same year, spelled Fannerio, The Chad Mitchell Trio recorded it in 1963, as did Hoyt Axton. Dylan’s version is short, and simplified. The Simon & Garfunkel version is much more likely to have been taken from Joan Baez and/or Judy Collins. Judy Collins is more energetic than Joan Baez. The Simon & Garfunkel is closer to the folk club standard, so not a Dylan lift.

Both Joan Baez and Simon and Garfunkel share the verse with In a carriage you will ride , missing from Dylan. Then both Baez and Simon & Garfunkel have this (rather chilling) verse, which is absent from Dylan and other Americana versions:

If ever I return, pretty Peggy-o.
If ever I return, pretty Peggy-o.
If ever I return all your cities I will burn,
Destroying all the ladies in the are-o.
Destroying all the ladies in the are-o.

So the reason Simon & Garfunkel use the deceptively sweetened vocal for what turns out to be a harsh story is that they took their version directly from Joan Baez NOT from Bob Dylan. As soon as you stop comparing, their version grows in stature.

The Grateful Dead later did it live throughout the 1970s. Then the Black Crowes did it. Jefferson Starship did a magnificent version on 2008’s Jefferson’s Tree of Liberty.

Go Tell It On The Mountain
(Traditional)

Tell It On The Mountain: Peter, Paul & Mary, Warner Bros UK 45 release 1964

This was played in all the folk clubs in 1963 and 1964. Peter, Paul & Mary had done a version as Tell It On The Mountain in 1963 on In The Wind and followed folk tradition by claiming writing credits on their version. Fair enough in that they changed the words and related it to the Civil Rights struggle rather than gospel and emphasized Go Tell it on the mountain … to let my people go. Somewhere I have the sheet music of that version, as my teenage group were forced to play it in church (along with Very Last Day also Peter, Paul & Mary and on In The Wind) as payment for using the church hall to practise on Saturdays. It’s a good stirring song. It was a single in 1964.

However, Simon & Garfunkel didn’t use the “protest” version which was around the folk clubs (and were the lyrics we used). They reverted to the Christmas nativity lyrics Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watch
O’er silent flocks by night
Behold throughout the heavens
There shown a holy light

It’s odd that they eschewed the Peter, Paul & Mary lyric in favour of overtly Christian lyrics. They’re American. Having a Menorah and a Christmas tree in the same room is not uncommon.

Paul Simon liked gospel music … he did Live Rhymin’ with the Jessy Dixon Singers, and check out Loves Me Like A Rock on There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. Like You Can Tell The World it’s remains an unexpected choice with its lyric (Jesus Christ is Lord) for two Jewish singers. A suspicious critic will note that Paul Simon worked for a music publisher. He knew full well the financial advantages of “Traditional: arranged by …”. The Peter, Paul and Mary version was freshly copyrighted, so avoid that, but it had the same tune.

Peter, Paul and Mary did the song better.

The Sun Is Burning
(Ian Campbell)

This is a cover of a song on the authentic folk Topic label mentioned above. The Ian Campbell Folk Group were a popular folk club act at the time, which is where Paul Simon heard the song, Ian Campbell wrote it, and was a stickler for credit, so Lorna Campbell gets her name alone on the disc. It was the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) era. The Cuban Missile crisis had everyone scared of the nuclear holocaust. It’s the same year as Come Away Melinda, co-written by Fred Hellerman of The Weavers, and recorded in 1963 by both Harry Belafonte and Judy Collins. I find Come Away Melinda a far better song. They chose the wrong one.

For my theory that female singers were the main influence on the album, the original is female vocal. The simple accompaniment is just banjo. The plinky-plink banjo never worked with mushroom cloud of death and blinding flashes.

The guitar playing on the Simon & Garfunkel version is streets ahead of Ian Campbell’s banjo, and it is enhanced by the gentle, persistent double bass. Instrumentally, it’s a major improvement. Lorna Campbell was impassioned. They certainly are not, however they can accentuate that mushroom cloud and blinding flash both in vocal phrasing and in playing.

(It is) a grim CND anthem written in 1963 by British folk revivalist Ian Campbell (father of UB40s Robin, Duncan and Ali Campbell). The original was a slightly austere banjo-led piece, sung by sister Lorna Campbell. S& G’s sugary harmonies bury lyrics like “twisted sightless wrecks of men go groping on their knees and cry in pain” to the point that you’d barely guess this was about a nuclear holocaust.
John Lewis in Uncut: Simon & Garfunkel. The Ultimate Music Guide

I disagree. I think the S & G version is better.

The Times They Are A-Changin’
(Bob Dylan)

Oh, dear. Bad move. Over the last twenty-five years, Paul Simon has had a better stage show than Bob Dylan, is in better voice, has a more elaborate and better band and crucially a far, far better technical stage sound than Bob Dylan. But in 1964 Simon & Garfunkel were trailing such a long way back. Not in the same league. What were they thinking? They were following Peter, Paul and Mary (again) in covering it. A number of covers came out in late 1964 and 1965, including the aforesaid Ian Campbell Folk Group, plus The Seekers, The Silkie, The Byrds.

Simon & Garfunkel were early in covering it, it’s true. Bob Dylan’s LP came out on 10 February, they were covering it just a month later.

They even try to adopt a slightly hokey Americana accent, for the only time on the album (or in their later careers). It’s a truly pointless cover. At least you could change the instrumentation from strummed guitar. This is definitely Bob – 10 points, Paul & Artie nil.

Wednesday Morning 3 a.m.
(Paul Simon)

It was added separately after those original March 1964 sessions.

Art Garfunkel: Written in April 1964, (it) is a change of pace. The heightened intensity of The Sounds of Silence has given way here to a gentle mood, and the melody is once again a soft smooth vehicle. It is a painting that sets a scene, sketches some details and quietly concludes.
Sleeve notes to the original album

I’ve committed a crime,
I have broken the law
For twenty-five dollars
And pieces of silver
I held up and robbed
A hard liquor store

It’s 3 a.m. The narrator has robbed a liquor store and now must flee, looking at his sleeping lover for the last time before he goes.

My life seems unreal,
My crime an illusion
A scene badly written
In which I must play

It is somewhat literary. Does it point forward decades to the Capeman?

Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. : A side of US single

(It) was inexplicably chosen as the album’s title track. What could be Simon’s equivalent of a B-Movie about a cheap and unnecessary robbery needs to be stark and driving, not reverential and pious; Simon and Garfunkel even manage to make the line about a girl’s breasts rising and falling as she sleeps un-erotic.
Patrick Humphries: The Boy InThe Bubble: A Biography of Paul Simon 1988

Just about everyone agrees that the version on the Sounds of Silence LP with its new title, Somewhere They Can’t Find Me is superior to the first effort. Not for me, but then I had the original EP and met the song there, and always liked it. But then I like The Dangling Conversation, which made a rock snob list of the fifty worst rock songs of all time.

BONUS TRACKS

Bleeker Street (Demo)
It’s 1 second shorter, I guess.

He Was My Brother (Alternate Take)
This adds harmonica, in considerably gentler style than rival Bob. There’s banjo. It might be on the main track, but it’s more prominent here.

The Sun Is Burning (Alternate Take)
The CD bonus tracks are simply alternate takes. They throw no new light.

Overall

The five originals are easily the five best tracks on the album. Paul Simon’s roots were Everly Brothers rather than hearty folk singing. They were jumping on the wrong bandwagon with the cover versions.

Simon & Garfunkel were promoted as part of the folk scene hence the squeezed in folk favourites. Simon had toured the folk clubs of England, but he didn’t fit the templates. He wasn’t a blue collared Americana singer like Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger or Rambling Jack Elliot. Nor was he a serious folk archivist like Ewan MacColl, Pete Bellamy & The Young Tradition or Martin Carthy. He didn’t sing in a road weary weatherbeaten and gruff American style, nor did he offer up regional British accents like Mummerset, Geordie or Yorkshire. He didn’t sing risqué songs clutching a pint of beer either. (See Bawdy Ballads, Lewd Lyrics, Rugby Songs and Folk here).

Note how critic after critic chooses syrupy, sugary, saccharine, reverential, pious in discussing these songs. I don’t think Art Garfunkel’s mildly pretentious sleeve notes helped. At my local folk club, the other template was the female singers. We had a duo who performed every week, leaning strongly on Joan Baez and Judy Collins BUT with one harmonizing. Female vocal was always a strong strand in folk, which comments on this album ignore. It comes out in Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Sandy Denny, Linda Thomson, Karen Dalton … add as many as you like. You can emphasize an uncomfortable message by whispering it entrancingly rather than bellowing it to the rooftops.

Simon and Garfunkel sang in the voices of what they were … young, urban, college educated, articulate, with crystal clear diction. If they were following a folk model, it was the singing of Joan Baez or Judy Collins, or the harmonies of Peter, Paul & Mary. Folk was opportune for a poet and a one man band. It gave Paul Simon places to play. In spite of excursions in the future like Scarborough Fair and El Condor Pasa, he wasn’t a folk singer. He fits best with Leonard Cohen and James Taylor as singer-songwriters who crafted their lyrics. Incidentally, the three of them would be the best live performances I’ve seen in the last quarter century, with the best live bands too.

It’s under-rated.

SEE ALSO:

One Trick Pony – Paul Simon

PAUL SIMON LIVE REVIEWS BY ME:

THE REVILED ALBUMS ARE (so far) …

Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. – Simon & Garfunkel
Beatles For Sale – The Beatles
Their Satanic Majesties Request … The Rolling Stones
Speedway (and Elvis film music) – Elvis Presley
Electric Mud– Muddy Waters
3614 Jackson Highway – Cher (plus the bonus tracks)
Let It Be – The Beatles
Self Portrait – Bob Dylan
Byrdmaniax – The Byrds
Cahoots – The Band
Carl and The Passions- So Tough! – The Beach Boys
The London Chuck Berry Sessions – Chuck Berry
Wild Life – Wings
Sometime in New York City – John and Yoko / Elephant’s Memory
Recall The Beginning: A Journey From Eden … The Steve Miller Band
Hard Nose The Highway … Van Morrison
Chicago III … Chicago
Berlin– Lou Reed
Pinups – David Bowie
There’s One In Every Crowd – Eric Clapton
I Want You – Marvin Gaye
Love At The Greek – Neil Diamond
Death of A Ladies’ Man – Leonard Cohen
Shakedown Street – The Grateful Dead
Born Again – Randy Newman
Mingus – Joni Mitchell
One Trick Pony – Paul Simon
Everybody’s Rockin’ – Neil Young  
American Dream – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Jefferson Airplane – Jefferson Airplane (1989)
Human Touch – Bruce Springsteen
Latest Record Project Volume1… Van Morrison

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