October 02, 2015

Simon & Garfunkel - America (1968)

In 1964, Paul Simon was living in London, England with his then-girlfriend Kathy Chitty. His debut album with Art Garfunkel, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. had recently been finished recording and was now in the stage of being mixed and having the artwork created/picked out. Simon’s producer, Tom Wilson, informed him that he wanted Paul to come back to the United States to assist with the work. Not wanting to leave his girlfriend behind, Simon suggested he and Kathy go together, where they could spend five days touring the country before he got back to work. The resulting road trip became the inspiration for the song heard below.

It was in 1966 when Simon eventually wrote the song; and, according to a former disc jockey from Saginaw, Michigan, Bob Dyer, Simon wrote the song while he was in town- in Saginaw- to perform in a concert series.

The finished song was first released in 1968 on Simon & Garfunkel’s third album, titled Bookends. That version of the song begins with a segue from the previous track; so the version heard below- the single- was chosen for being featured here instead, as the intro is cleaner. The single version heard below and released in 1972 reached #92 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #25 in the UK. It features Hal Blaine and Larry Knechtel from The Wrecking Crew on drums and bass, respectively.

album art

Simon & Garfunkel - America (1968)

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Let us be lovers
We’ll marry our fortunes together
I’ve got some real estate here in my bag

So we bought a pack of cigarettes
And Mrs. Wagner’s Pies
And walked off to look for America

“Kathy,” I said, as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh
“Michigan seems like a dream to me now”
It took me four days to hitch-hike from Saginaw
I’ve come to look for America”

Laughing on the bus
Playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said, “Be careful, his bowtie is really a camera”

“Toss me a cigarette; I think there’s one in my raincoat”
“We smoked the last one an hour ago”

So I looked at the scenery
She read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field

“Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping
“I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why”

Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America

All come to look for America
All come to look for America

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