Simon and Garfunkel were a musical duo that provided a defining sound for the 1960’s. The two separated and Paul Simon continued to make music on his own, in his style, representative of his mood and opinions. It is an interesting path that Paul traveled to be where he is today. One of those pivotal steps was the album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. The A side has the hits and the songs people still sing, but I have always enjoyed the B side, in it’s entirety, over the A side at all. One of the hidden gems is the last song on the album, “Silent Night/ 7 o’clock News.” This track begins with Simon and Garfunkel singing two-part harmony over an arpeggiated piano section in the well known Christmas carol with news playing faintly in the background. As the song progresses, the news becomes louder and more prominent as the song fades out to almost nothing by the end of the track. The news stories are true but it is not an actual newscast. It is read by Charlie McDonnell and contains two errors. First, Lenny Bruce died at the age of 40, not 42 and Richard Speck was tried for killing 8 student nurses, not 9. Additionally, the speech that Richard Nixon gave, referenced at the end, was delivered to the American Legion, not the Veterans of Foreign Wars. These details are trivial to the intent of the message. The world is hurting today, even as we celebrate peace and love, others suffer and die.
This song contains the second direct reference to Lenny Bruce on this album (both B side). We can infer that Paul Simon was heavily influenced by Bruce and the consequences that he was exposed to. Come back and read the upcoming article on Paul Simon.
Side note: I rarely use the Oxford comma. I do not use it unless it is absolutely necessary to clarify context. If you notice, it is not used on this album either. Lesson 1 from Paul Simon.