Song: “The Boxer”
Artist: Simon & Garfunkel
Album: Bridge Over Troubled Water, 1970
Somewhere in the hazy, forgotten realm of Woodstock-eclipsed vinyl antiquity reside the uncrowned kings of hippie-folk: Simon & Garfunkel.
After their 1965 takeoff with the renowned, loner-celebratory track, “The Sound of Silence”, (which could easily be the prequel for the self-minded “I Am a Rock”), the two conquered the singer-songwriter game…with refreshingly less concern for aesthetics than most of their contemporaries.
Packaged with woodsy, organically-voiced appeal, Simon & Garfunkel had two things to give: profundity and humming harmonies. Armed with both of the above, “The Boxer” is a movingly vagabond-ish artifact from the 60s-rooted folk duo.
And one that can still blow your mind…
Flowering acoustic cadences decorate the song’s country-craving words, and the lyrical adept, Paul Simon, sings “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…”.
Harmonized “Lie-La-Lie”s repeat throughout, further vocalizing the hoped-for passing of time.
Two choruses later and the climactic, hoofbeat-backed dynamics build to a soul-swallowing end. A final verse is the title’s metaphorical comparison…
“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
and cut him till he cried out, in his anger and his shame,
‘I am leaving, I am leaving’,
but the fighter still remains…”
However much city life tests his endurance, Simon is the ever-fighting boxer–in or out of his country element.
A should-be classic, in every aspect.