End of Term Blues, Simon & Garfunkel and “The Boxer”

My last post was a bit of a rant as a result of having imbibed a few Friday night wines. Time to move on, quickly, as all a bit embarrassing now. Last week we had to submit the final assignment for my college course, and the week before, we had our very last lecture of the academic year. It coincided with that really warm spell of weather which rather nicely landed upon Easter weekend. Although most of us VC in from home (as we are scattered across the vast college catchment area), I did go in for that lecture, and although we were all sweltering in the heat, it was nice to have a last meet up before the long summer break.

end of term

Sadly, I will now lose touch with most of my classmates as I am a part-time student and will be covering the remaining modules not taken this year, next year. Fortunately for me, the girl whose work I definitely warm to most is the other part-time student, so our paths will continue to cross. She was one of the few of us to complete the 30 day NaPoWriMo challenge written about recently, and here is another set of her amazing poems – Same subject matter, same title but two entirely different approaches. She says they are just rough drafts, but they look pretty finished to me. I am in awe.

Adrenaline-soaked Gauze and Silver Nitrate #1

An ancient trade; a coiled spring in sinew
The blood of men that failed to make their mark
A stage all ringed about with ropes and snarling
(Once you’re) In, just you and him, a roaring dark

The cutman’s in the corner gaging damage
The only middle-ground in all this noise
An alchemy of bone and glove, blood-thunder
The bruises start to blossom round your eyes

The oldest game that only ever yielded
When you saw the Devil’s face and knew your worth
Or was it God’s – his vital disappointment
(You’re) laughing bloody, carved in iron and in wrath

Adrenaline-soaked Gauze and Silver Nitrate #2

Begin the age-old fight, again, unbloodied

The bullet’s spark with caution is a cunning scalpel
Older eyes keep watch, as scattered scars break forth
This broad shoulder, molten heavy, built for battle
Reach and stagger as he falls towards the earth
Rage withheld until the fight is almost over
Face it all son, keep the rein in good and tight
Grinning bloody through the carnage thunder
‘Let the blood flow till he’s back in front.’
A break, tuck the edge, and enswell stiffly
A hand-clasp to his feet – he trusts your poise
A nod; you’ll see him at the end, come swiftly
Let him go, steady now into the noise

Back into the ring, my son, unburied

For me, there can only be one song to include in this post – The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel

The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel:

I think I’m going to have to set up a new category on my sidebar as I realise this must be at least the fifth song featured around here by that talented duo from Queens, NYC. I really don’t think I remember the song from when it would have appeared in the UK Singles Chart in 1969, but when a friend gave me a home-recorded cassette tape (naughty) with their greatest hits a few years later, it was one of the stand out songs for me and often listened to. It apparently took 100 hours to record in two different studios in two cities, and in a church with a tiled dome which had great acoustics. The legendary record executive Clive Davis was told a standard 8-track recorder wasn’t going to be enough for all their material, so he stumped up for a 16-track, and it shows.

I hadn’t heard of the term placeholder before but it’s what they call the part of a song where they just haven’t come up with the lyrics yet. The temporary bit where any old words or sounds can slot in. When Paul Simon couldn’t find the words to replace the lie la lie chorus, it was left as was, unintentionally giving the song international appeal.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have been a very part-time student over the last eight months, and each semester’s work is packed into an intense ten-week period so not been too onerous at all. Just got the results of my last assignment back though and pleased to report that all these years later I’m still a straight A’s student (fairly normal nowadays but it used to mean you were a swot). Sadly at this rate I’ll be drawing my state pension before I finish the full degree I embarked on last year, so I suspect that won’t be happening. I think I have another year left in me however of juggling the various commitments I seem to have taken on of late as well as doing the course. No more poetry next year, but glad my talented fellow student will still be by my side, as I can’t wait to see what wonderful material is still in her arsenal. I suspect it will be epic.

Until next time….

The Boxer Lyrics
(Song by Paul Simon)

I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station
Running scared,
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places
Only they would know

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Asking only workman’s wages
I come looking for a job
But I get no offers
Just a come-on from the whores
On Seventh Avenue
I do declare
There were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there, le le le le le le le

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Then I’m laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone
Going home
Where the New York City winters
Aren’t bleeding me
Leading me
Going home

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains, mmm mmm

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie……
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

11 thoughts on “End of Term Blues, Simon & Garfunkel and “The Boxer””

  1. Remember the vinyl section at the back of Kay’s catalogue? Dark Side of the Moon? Never not there. Tapestry? Never not there. Bridge Over Troubled Water? Again, never not there. It’s a staple, but a staple for a reason: there is, quite literally, not a duff track on there. Not a one.
    I once wrote a Paul Simon pastiche called ‘Looking for Fun’ and did, indeed, have a lot of fun with it.

    Come that fateful day, Simon will, along with Sir Paul of Kintyre (they’ll probably both go at around the same time) be recognised as the songwriter’s songwriter; never to be matched. Ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my – It’s a long time since I’ve seen a Kays catalogue. In the summer holidays we used to cut out those self folding envelope forms from magazines. and order all the various catalogues on behalf of our mums. By the time term started again the house was awash with thick tomes of glossy paper – Ambrose Wilson, Littlewoods, Marshall Ward. Back in the day it would have been the equivalent of modern-day online shopping I suppose.

      But I digress, yes indeed, not a dud track on that album – I have now added a new S&G category to my sidebar as I’ve featured them so many times now. Never tire of their songs (or Paul Simon’s on his own) which is unusual all these years later when so many others have become over-familiar.

      Like

  2. Congratulations on getting to the end of your first year – blimey, that was quick!
    Some lovely language in those poems.
    The Boxer has long been a favourite of mine, it has a wonderful atmosphere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, it has flown in – Guessing it doesn’t seem that way if you’re sitting on the other side of the teacher’s table though. Because of the nature of our course there is supposed to be a lot of self-study so only 10 weeks of lectures/semester – Means it flies in. Wrote my first academic essay in nearly 40 years the other week and did surprisingly well. Was just hoping for a pass as I’d been so busy that week but was really pleased with the result. I’ve got a lot of years and life experience on the rest of them so I really should do ok, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

      Yes, the girl who wrote those poems and the others I shared previously (I told her you’d called them Jim Steinman-esque – She said, “Who’s he?”) has some fabulous language skills. We have all gravitated toward different styles – Some write about nature (an awful lot of petals), fairies and princesses (???), emotions… My specialism has been comic verse! I like my poems to rhyme and can’t take them too seriously, so they end up being funny (hopefully).

      Yes, love The Boxer and now that I have added S&G to my sidebar as a category, more of their songs are bound to appear around here before long.

      Like

  3. Great song, like almost everything Paul wrote back when he was working with Art. I’m not a fan of his later stuff. I saw him in concert a couple of years ago, with only one Simon and Garfunkel song, “The Sound of Silence”, but in the arrangement from The Paul Simon Songbook, i.e. without Art. Sad. In contrast, Art Garfunkel (will be seeing him again live in October) puts on a good show, mostly consisting of stuff recorded with Paul. By coincidence, just a few days before I plan to see Bookends for the third time, a really, really, really good Simon and Garfunkel cover band. It’s not a “show”, i.e. they don’t try to look like Simon and Garfunkel (compare the many Beatles tribute bands who dress up etc), but just get up and sing, really well. I think that they will play in your area this year. Do go to the show!

    Simon and Garfunkel should tour again. In contrast with other comebacks, their concert in Central Park and their reunion tour almost 20 years ago were both excellent. If they wait too long, at least one will be dead.

    Later versions of “The Boxer” include an additional verse:

    Now the years are rolling by me
    The are rocking easily
    I am older than I once was
    And younger than I will be
    But that’s not unusual
    No, it isn’t strange
    After changes upon changes
    We are more or less the same
    After changes we are
    More or less the same

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gosh thanks for all this great additional info and lucky you having seen them both in concert.

      I don’t actually have a problem going to see “tribute” shows as long as they don’t try to look like the artists (some awful Abba ones around) and just concentrate on the songs and turn in a good performance – Will look out for that Bookends band. Think I would really like them.

      Like

      1. I don’t even mind if they try to look like the artists, as long as the music is good. But between-song banter as if they were the artists is taking it too far.

        Some other really good tribute bands: The Iron Maidens, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, La Villa Strangiato, The Musical Box.

        Liked by 2 people

I'd Love To Hear From You And I Always Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s