May 3rd, 2020

The Old Kingdom

Dept. of Song

Songs of Joy and Sorrow

These days of quasi-lockdown, I'm doing well, but I find myself looking to music to maintain my balance. And I find myself thinking of these two songs, written by Paul Simon. Both "America" and "American Tune" remind me, every time I listen to them, that tears of joy and sorrow can be intertwined so tightly that it's sometimes hard to determine where one begins and the other ends. 

When I hear Simon and Art Garfunkel sing "America" - when I hear anyone sing the song, such is its power for me, but especially when I hear their performance - my throat is thick with tears by the time I hear "It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw," and the tears fall freely, generally beyond my control before the end of the song.

Here are Simon and Garfunkel performing the song in their 1981 Central Park concert, Garfunkel's voice like an angel. 


I spent time searching fruitlessly for a version of "American Tune" that I recalled from years ago. I didn't find it, but I found this version from one of my favorite jazz singers and artists, Kurt Elling. The version Simon and Garfunkel sing at the Central Park concert is glorious, but tonight, Elling's resonated with me. 


And finally, can I ask you which songs bring tears of joy or sorrow or both to your heart? Please let me know. I want to hear them. 

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