I Am a Rock

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"I Am a Rock"
I Am a Rock - Paul Simon.jpg
45 RPM picture sleeve
Single by Paul Simon
from the album The Paul Simon Songbook
B-side"Leaves That Are Green"
Released1965 (1965)
Format7-inch single
GenreFolk rock
LabelCBS
Songwriter(s)Paul Simon
Paul Simon singles chronology
"I Am a Rock"
(1965)
"Mother and Child Reunion"
(1972)
"I Am a Rock"
I Am A Rock 45.jpg
Single by Simon and Garfunkel
from the album Sounds of Silence
B-side"Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall"
ReleasedMay 1966 (1966-05)
Format7-inch single
RecordedDecember 14, 1965
GenreJangle pop[1]
Length2:52
LabelColumbia
Songwriter(s)Paul Simon
Producer(s)Bob Johnston
Simon and Garfunkel singles chronology
"Homeward Bound"
(1966)
"I Am a Rock"
(1966)
"The Dangling Conversation"
(1966)
Audio sample

"I Am a Rock" is a song written by Paul Simon. It was first performed by Simon alone as the opening track on his album The Paul Simon Songbook which he originally recorded and released in August 1965, only in the United Kingdom. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, as the American folk rock duo Simon and Garfunkel, re-recorded it on December 14, 1965, and included as the final track on their album Sounds of Silence, which they released on January 17, 1966.

Writing, recording, and commercial success[edit]

Solo-acoustic version[edit]

Thematically, "I Am a Rock" deals with isolation and emotional detachment. The song was not included on Simon & Garfunkel's acoustic debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which was released on October 19, 1964. Some sources say that it was performed by Simon on January 27, 1965, on a promo show for the BBC.[2] Simon likely began writing the song before the end of January 1964, and had it completed by May 1965, when he first recorded it. It was included on his solo-acoustic The Paul Simon Songbook LP released in the UK in the summer of 1965.[3]

Until 1981, the initial recording of "I Am a Rock" on The Paul Simon Song Book remained unavailable in North America. This was partly because Simon himself was dissatisfied with the album, saying on the album's liner notes:

"This L.P. contains twelve of the songs that I have written over the past two years. There are some here that I would not write today. I don't believe in them as I once did. I have included them because they played an important role in the transition. It is discomforting, almost painful, to look back over something someone else created and realize that someone else was you. I am not ashamed of where I've been and what I've thought. It's just not me anymore. It is perfectly clear to me that the songs I write today will not be mine tomorrow. I don't regret the loss."[4]

As a result, the Song Book album was only made available in North America when it was released as part of the boxed set of albums Paul Simon: Collected Works. The album was not released on CD until March 23, 2004.[5] For this release Columbia included two bonus tracks, one of which was an alternate take of "I Am a Rock", during which one can plainly hear Simon stamping his foot for a beat.

In 1965, the solo-acoustic version "I Am a Rock" was also released as a rare A-side of a single in the UK, backed with "Leaves That are Green".

Electric version with Garfunkel[edit]

While Simon was in Europe during the summer of 1965, Tom Wilson, the producer of Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., responded to requests for "The Sound of Silence" from American radio stations and dubbed an electric guitar, bass, and drums onto the original track. He then released the song as a single, whereupon it entered the United States pop charts. When Simon heard about the success of this song, he was still touring in Europe as a solo folk singer.

Simon immediately returned to the United States, and with Garfunkel in December 1965 began a series of hasty recording sessions to match the electric "mold" created by Wilson with many of the other songs that Simon had recorded on the Song Book, including "I Am a Rock," which was re-recorded during these sessions on 14 December 1965.[6] The result was the album Sounds of Silence, which the duo released the following January. "I Am a Rock" was the fifth and closing track on Side 2 of the record. Along with most of the other tracks on the album, it was produced by Bob Johnston and recorded in New York at Columbia Recording Studios using some of the same session players that had appeared on Bob Dylan's recent Highway 61 Revisited LP.[3]

The album quickly capitalized on the success of the new album's title track as a #1 single, and itself rose to #21 on the Billboard charts. The duo cashed in quickly on their new-found success. They released "I Am a Rock" as a single in the late spring of 1966,[7] and the song reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, the third single (chronologically) by Simon & Garfunkel to reach the top 5 (after "The Sound of Silence" and "Homeward Bound").

This single had two incarnations. First, as a promotion, it was released on red vinyl to radio stations, with a mono mix on one side and a stereo version on the other. These copies are somewhat difficult to locate for collectors. The standard version sold in stores, however, was the black vinyl 45 rpm record with the red Columbia Records label. The B-side was a version of "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall," which was later released on Simon & Garfunkel's even-more-successful (and critically acclaimed) album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. The single mix of the song features a more prominent lead vocal track (and different phrasing in the opening lines) by Paul Simon, and less reverb, than the more common LP version.

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1966)[8] Peak
position
Australian Kent Music Report 20
Canada RPM Top Singles[9] 6
Dutch Singles Chart 10
New Zealand (Listener)[10] 2
Swedish Singles Chart 10
UK Singles Chart[11] 17
US Billboard Hot 100 3
US Cash Box Top 100[12] 4
West Germany (Official German Charts)[13] 35

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1966) Rank
US Billboard Hot 100[14] 51
US Cash Box [15] 40

Other versions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ LaBate, Steve (December 18, 2009). "Jangle Bell Rock: A Chronological (Non-Holiday) Anthology… from The Beatles and Byrds to R.E.M. and Beyond". Paste. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  2. ^ See the bootleg disc Far East Reunion, released by Hard Rain Records (Hard Rain 007/008). Jean-Marc Orliaguet claims (archived July 21, 2006) this show aired on 27 January 1965 (accessed 13 April 2006). This is dubious, however, because the liner notes to Far East Reunion claim this is a promo show for the release of the Simon & Garfunkel EP Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which itself was not released until 1966.
  3. ^ a b "I Am A Rock by Simon & Garfunkel". Song Facts. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  4. ^ Paul Simon, liner notes, The Paul Simon Song Book. London: CBS Records, 1965.
  5. ^ This date is cited from Paul Maclauchlan's discography Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine of Simon's career (accessed 27 September 2006).
  6. ^ Heylin, Clinton, Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions, 1960-1994, Macmillan, 1997. Cf. pp.34–36. ISBN 978-0-312-15067-9. It mentioned Tom Wilson's use of the technique he tried with Dylan's early recordings, later with Simon and Garfunkel's work.
  7. ^ The reference number is Columbia 45 4-43617.
  8. ^ Steffen Hung. "Simon & Garfunkel - I Am A Rock". Swisscharts.com. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  9. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1966-06-06. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  10. ^ http://www.flavourofnz.co.nz/index.php?qpageID=search%20listener&qsongid=1107#n_view_location Flavour of New Zealand, 12 August 1966
  11. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 499–500. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  12. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, June 18, 1966
  13. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Simon & Garfunkel – I Am a Rock". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved February 18, 2019. To see peak chart position, click "TITEL VON Simon & Garfunkel"
  14. ^ Musicoutfitters.com
  15. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 24, 1966
  16. ^ Hughes, William (August 26, 2016). "Tim Heidecker proudly proclaims his "cuck" status in new parody anthem". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Retrieved August 27, 2016.

External links[edit]