A social and historical retrospective on Simon & Garfunkel’s Bookends
Forty-five years ago, Simon & Garfunkel released their fourth album, Bookends (1968). This concept-album topped the music charts in the United Kingdom and United States at #1, and #3 in both Australia and France. Interestingly, this was the last album to be released in both mono and stereo. To the collector, the mono pressing of the album contains many noticeable sonic differences.
A few highlights from the album retrospective:
- Richard Avedon had David Bailey’s famous photograph of the Kray twins in mind when he shot the cover.
- If [Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band] brought childhood to the fore, Bookends addresses the other end of the telescope – and apart from the Beatles, few players in this tale thus far have addressed the question of age and impermanence.
- The film of The Graduate, too, attempted to address the question of age, and not simply how wrongly the old were regarding the young from either perspective (prospective employer or mistress); the couple may elope at the end, but are they also ready to turn into reactionaries, think by 1980 that Reagan has a point?
- But on Bookends the duo, and Paul Simon in particular, were keen to wrongfoot any doe-eyed newcomers, expecting some calming, soothing wisdom of folk.