Monday, August 13, 2007

I'm Lost, I Said

By way of an apology to Signifying Nothing for incorrectly correcting him about the lyrics to "America," I will post here the (seemingly) correct lyrics for the song by Simon & Garfunkel. I got them off a website and I listened to the song, and they seem correct, so here it goes:

"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 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 hitchhike from Saginaw,
I've gone 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 gone to look for America
All gone to look for America
All gone to look for America

And I agree with SN that it's a beautiful (or accurate?) piece of Americana. We are all, in some way, looking for America. Or some of us have found it, our little corner, and we love it. Especially upon return.

6 comments:

Lisa B. said...

This happens to be one of my essential songs. I sang it in my youth, with the boy who made me my dulcimer (another story) at the Hootenanny (the semi-annual event sponsored by the Folksingers Club at my high school, a relic of the seventies). He was a wonderful guitarist. The part in the S & G song, "and the moon rose over an open field," is so beautiful it will break your heart. It is a great, great song.

Nik said...

What did SN think they said that you said they said but then discovered SN had it right? I agree with Lisa that that turn to moon rose over an open field is pure sonnet beauty. And any time I'm on a turnpike, I sing that song.

theorris said...

Back in the early 90s I liked using this song in Intro to Lit. It has a certain level of angst in it and ties all sorts of interesting American themes together, as well as the love story that goes pointedly wrong by the end of the song. That love seems connected to a love for America. As lisa b. points out "And the moon rose over an open field" highlights a realization of complete disconnectedness with "Kathy" and, indeed "America." Heartbreaking, indeed.

Cigarettes are used in interesting ways, as well. Note how they act as the connection between Kathy and the singer. When they are gone, their love is gone too. Fascinating.

Other favorite lines "I've got some real estate here in my bag."

theorris said...

Oh and I wouldn't use it any longer; it was dated when I used in the 90s but I was a lot younger then so got away with it. I would not date myself so these days, particularly since the song was written before I was born (no doubt.) Ah wait a fragile rose pop culture is.

theorris said...

And that last line should be "Ah what a fragile rose pop culture is."

I particularly recall a colleague who never got beyond the 60s in music. His students thought him quaint at best, and a complete, disconnected fool at worst.

ErinAlice said...

for fear of sounding oh I don't know like I don't "get it" this is not one of my favorite S&G songs. My favorite is Brigdge Over Troubled Water. Art's voice sounds so melancholy and just perfect. Just an aside, I like this song by Audioslave (so NOT S&G) but one line in their lyric goes like this: "I like gospel music and canned applesauce cause it doesn't remind me of anything." I mean really. Who can fit the words "canned applesauce" into a song???