Paul & Artie
Listen – Simon & Garfunkel – The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine – MP3
I hope the beginning of a new week finds you well.
The days are getting cooler (the nights even more so), and an extended lack of any serious rain has caused the front lawn to be coated with dead leaves about a month and a half early. Before the most recent hurricane remnant, it looked as if the lawn might very well catch fire in the sun, but a few days of soaking ran have restored it to it’s previously lush, crabgrassy self.
The tune I bring you today is one of those great “lost” tracks by a group that was simultaneously super-successful and underrated. What I mean is that although you all know who Simon and Garfunkel were/are, and some of their biggest hits may very well be on your (and my) list of songs you never need to hear again, their albums were actually – even in their “folkie” period – quite good and often home to very unusual, seemingly out of character tunes. Though the duo’s name conjures up thoughts of ‘Sounds of Silence’ and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, for each of those songs there are many other, much more obscure cuts that ought to set your ears on end. Tunes like ‘Bleecker Street’, ‘A Simple Desultory Philipic’ and pretty much every note on the ‘Bookends’ LP (one of my favorite 60s records) ought to provide (as they have for me) a new window into the music of S&G.
One such tune is today’s selection ‘ The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine’, which originally appeared on their 1966 LP ‘Parsely Sage Rosemary & Thyme’. The album, which produced a few big hits – ‘Scarborough Fair/Canticle’ and ‘Homeward Bound’ – was an important transitional record for Simon and Garfunkel in much the same way that ‘Rubber Soul’ or ‘Revolver’was for the Beatles. The sounds on the record, with their original folk harmonies morphing into folk rock, and then again into something else entirely are proof that Simon and Garfunkel are certainly deserving of a little more respect than they are traditionally afforded by rock snobs.
Though ‘Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine’ displays the influence of both Bob Dylan and the Beatles, it also serves as a great example of the kind of songwriting that Paul Simon has always been capable of. While tapping into the multitude of sounds swirling around in 1966 (or ’76, or ’86 or ’96 etc.), Simon wove them together, mixing in threads of humor and optimism and finishing it off with his and Garfunkel’s perfect harmonies.
The song was issued as the b-side of ‘The Dangling Conversation’ which was a Top 40 hit in 1966. Oddly enough, the tune was covered that year by none other than Gerry & the Pacemakers, in an interesting version.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back later in the week with something cool.
PSSS The Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast Archive has been updated as well…