I was watching a random episode of Arrested Development’s fourth season in which Simon and Garfunkel’s »Sound Of Silence« serves as a leitmotif to be heard every time any ridiculous character has an equally ridiculous emotional moment. It’s a good choice to ironically thwart a meaningful moment as there are only few songs out there which have been over-used and over-exposed the way »Sound Of Silence« has been ever since it was to be heard on the soundtrack of The Graduate, and yet it still pulls all the strings. Mine at least.
My record collection is now approximately worth as much as a small Eastern European country and weighs as just much as one. But when I think back to the first few records to enter my collection, the ones with which my financial ruin started out, Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits must have been one of the first, if not the very first record that I really liked, no, absolutely loved and which has stayed with me until this day. I listened to it on end on my mum’s old music box which was about the same age she was when she gave it to me when I was 14 years old or so. Holy fuck, that was a confusing sentence with a lot of irrelevant information in it, but it still seems important in a way so I’ll leave it there. Anyway.
I listened to Greatest Hits on end, especially at night. For me, it was a flawless record. Why?
1. outstanding guitar work and overall songwriting skills
2. well-written lyrics an angsty male teenager at that age can relate to easily (except maybe the »banging your crush’s mum« thing, and whatever the hell »feelin’ groovy« is supposed to mean)
3. they liked books and shit, and books are pretty cool and stuff
4. it was the kind of music that made me feel it’s okay to have emotions despite owning a dick
5. amazing production which sounded truly awe-inspiring on vinyl, especially when amplified through a vintage piece of gear which gave it a nice tone which was equally warm and full. I mean, just listen to »The Boxer«! That fucking SNARE! It was recorded in an empty elevator shaft because, fuck, those people were incredibly serious about the shit they did
The Graduate might be one of my favourite films ever. On the one hand because I have always been a sucker for the goold ol’ »privileged white cisdude male experiences a troublesome coming of age, drinks a bit and has meaningful and/or cynical conversations« narrative because d’uh. On the other hand because I know very few films in which the story, the acting, the cinematography and the music go so well together. Except maybe for 24 Hour Party People, but something tells me those two don’t really play in the same league. Bottom line: If it wasn’t for Simon and Garfunkel’s music and yes, especially »Sound Of Silence« playing while Benjamin and Elaine’s faces freeze in desperate, mysterious perplexity just before the credits roll, this movie would just be half as good.
Anyway, back to Greatest Hits. Considering the importance that collection had on me when I was a young potatoe, it should be clear that my judgement is of course not free from nostalgia or sheer self-conditioning. I have literally never listened to a regular studio album of theirs, I think! All I had was this compilation, and that was all I was content with. Because it seemed so flawless to me, just like a regular monolithic masterpiece should be. The question I have now, and maybe the two people who are still reading this have an answer to that, is if I’m correct in this assumption. Would you say Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits pass as an album of its own? If (not) so, why (not)? Are there any Best Of compilations that are equally flawless or at least have a similar meaning to you?
I’d like to hear your thoughts, because then I’d feel like less of a weirdo and also I have stuff to do and I would rather do something else because I’m the kind of person who identifies with Benjamin fucking Braddock, so what the fuck do you even expect!? Exactly.
Having said that, I’m currently listening to a digital version with a lot more tracks on it than on my vinyl record (which I’ll pull out with a gentle sigh after this) and it feels completely off. But I still don’t know why. Help me out.