Probably every indie rock band or musician from The Lumineers to Feist has referenced Simon and Garfunkel as a major influence in their career. Most millennials who listen to indie folk don’t even know who Simon and Garfunkel are. If you have heard them, you most likely remember them for creating the soundtrack to the iconic film “The Graduate” with Dustin Hoffman. The folk duo have had a massive influence on both the genres of rock and folk. Simon and Garfunkel’s debut album “Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m” truly paved the way for contemporary indie music.
Simon and Garfunkel start the album with an ethereal, slow-moving vibe that melts into their lyrics for “You Can Tell The World.” In this soft rock hit, they subtly hint at their religious values and their position on spirituality, which continues into “Go Tell It On The Mountain” and “The Sun Is Burning.” Though some religious imagery is present throughout the music, it is subtle because of their descriptive lyrics and beauty of their voices. Their soft voices mix well with the acoustic guitars and banjos. S&G will make you melt in these songs with their enthralling vocals.
During the time when S&G recorded their debut album, The Vietnam War was going on in the periphery. There are many songs that address their feelings towards the war. Starting with the rhythmically upbeat tune “The Times Are A-Changin,” which addresses their anti-war sentiment by urging senators and congressmen to bring back the deployed soldiers. Then, “The Sound Of Silence,” one of the opening songs used in the film “The Graduate,” addresses the death of thousands of young American soldiers in Vietnam. Besides “The Sound Of Silence,” S&G also sing “He Was My Brother,” conveying the feelings following the death of a loved one due to war. It is a relatable song for anyone who has dealt with the loss of a loved one. Though the song touches on a dark topic, the melody of the song is reminiscent of a lullaby.
In addition to anti-war sentiment, there is a lot of symbolism in the lyrics. S&G’s “Sparrow” outlines the seven deadly sins and creates an allegory with how they affect birds (which actually refers to human beings).
Simon and Garfunkel’s debut album is more of a political piece that is hidden under soft rock lullabies. It is not until you look up the lyrics to the songs that you will see the hidden political statement. The imagery and the symbolism that are present throughout the record make this album more poetic than many others. When listening to this album, you can hear the similarities in today’s music from Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine and Yo La Tengo. It is evident that Simon and Garfunkel have influenced and will influence future musicians for years to come.