Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

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Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
Two men sitting and looking at the viewer. The one in the middle has yellow hair and a blue shirt and jeans, while the man to the left of him has black hair blending in with the background and a white shirt. Only the right side of the second man's face is visible. Flowers are in the images foreground. The right of the first man it is written in script "Simon and Garfunkel" and below that "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme". There are symbols in the top left and center top of the picture.
Studio album by Simon & Garfunkel
Released October 10, 1966
Recorded December 1965–August 1966
Length 29:14 (U.S.)
26:44 (UK)
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Johnston
Simon & Garfunkel chronology
Sounds of Silence
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
The Graduate
Singles from Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
  1. "Homeward Bound"
    Released: February 1966
  2. "The Dangling Conversation"
    Released: September 1966
  3. "Scarborough Fair/Canticle"
    Released: February 1968
  4. "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)"
    Released: 1970

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme is the third studio album by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel. Produced by Bob Johnston, the album was released on October 10, 1966 in the United States by Columbia Records. Following the success of their debut single "The Sound of Silence", Simon & Garfunkel regrouped after a time apart while Columbia issued their second album, a rushed collection titled Sounds of Silence. For their third album, the duo spent almost three months in the studio, for the first time extending a perfectionist nature both in terms of instrumentation and production.

The album largely consists of acoustic pieces that were mostly written during Paul Simon's period in England the previous year, including some recycled numbers from his debut solo record, The Paul Simon Songbook. The album includes the Garfunkel-led piece "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her", as well as "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night", a combination of news reports of the day (the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the death of comedian Lenny Bruce), and the Christmas carol "Silent Night".

Many critics have considered it a breakthrough in recording for the duo, and one of their best efforts. "Homeward Bound" had already been a top five hit in numerous countries and "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" performed similarly. The album peaked at number four on the Billboard Pop Album Chart, and was eventually certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Recording and production[edit]

The band’s previous album, Sounds of Silence, was a "rush job" produced to capitalize on the success of their first hit single, "The Sound of Silence".[1] Parsley was the first time Simon insisted on total control in aspects of recording.[1]

Sessions for the album took place from June to August 1966. Two previously released songs from the December 1965 Sounds of Silence sessions were also added to the tracklisting: "Homeward Bound" had originally been released as the second single from that album but had been left off the tracklisting of the US LP release; and "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall" had already appeared on the B-side of "I Am a Rock". Garfunkel considered the recording of "Scarborough Fair" to be the moment the duo stepped into the role of producer, because they were constantly beside Roy Halee mixing the track.[2]


16 second sample from Simon and Garfunkel's "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme is largely characterized by sharp contrasts from song to song.[3] Much of the album is composed of recycled songs written by Simon during his period in England in 1965.[4] Three songs on the album — "Patterns," "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall," and "A Simple Desultory Phillippic" — also appear on Simon's first solo effort, The Paul Simon Songbook ("Canticle," the second half of opening ballad "Scarborough Fair," is also culled from another song on the record, "The Side of a Hill").[5][6]

"Scarborough Fair", a traditional ballad, combines "fingerpicked guitar accompaniment, delicate chimes, harpsichord embellishments, and the vocal blend."[5] String snaps are used prominently in "Patterns", as well as a "syncopated bass and frenetic bongo part." Much of the original guitar line remains the same from its earlier incarnation.[6] "Cloudy" employs a "breezy, almost jazzy musical style."[7] "Homeward Bound" carries a sense of melancholia, which biographer Marc Eliot attributed to an "echo of longing" that had resurfaced during the recording process over the failed relationship with Kathy Chitty.[4] "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" is a "satirical appropriation of an electric, organ-heavy psychedelic rock style," in which the singer complains of various woes in his life, which can be "readily eased" by purchasing the titular device.[8] "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" is a brief vignette "made up of variations on a two-bar ostinato figure," in which the protagonist goes about a carefree morning.[9]

"The Dangling Conversation" concerns a dying relationship,[10] but Garfunkel disliked the song, feeling it pretentious.[4] In contrast to its earlier appearance on The Paul Simon Songbook, "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall" appears here as a "folk combo that produces a bright, almost bluegrass sound."[11] "A Simple Desultory Philippic" is a "satirical rant about the singer's confrontations with a wide variety of pop-culture personalities and phenomena."[11] In the song, Simon vocally imitates Bob Dylan, as well as his harmonica interjections.[12] "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" has sometimes been thought to be named after poet Emily Dickinson.[12] Simon later explained that "For Emily" is not about an imaginary girl Emily, but about a belief, while the song "Overs" (from the album Bookends) is about the loss of that belief.[13] While other songs, such as "The Sound of Silence," had taken months for Simon to complete writing, others, such as "For Emily," were written in a single night.[14] "A Poem on the Underground Wall" largely revolves around a man creating graffiti on a sign in a subway station, with Simon also bringing into play "a variety of visceral and religious images."[15]

"7 O'Clock News/Silent Night" is a sound collage and simply constructed: it consists of the duo singing "Silent Night" two-part harmony over an arpeggiated piano section.[15] The voice of the newscaster is that of Charlie O'Donnell, then a radio disc jockey. As the track progresses, the song becomes fainter and the news report louder. "The result rather bluntly makes an ironic commentary on various social ills by juxtaposing them with tenderly expressed Christmas sentiments."[15]


After issuing several singles and receiving sold-out college campus shows, the duo released Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.[16]

The duo resumed their trek on the college circuit eleven days following the release, crafting an image that was described as "alienated," "weird," and "poetic."[17] Mort Lewis also was responsible for this public perception, as he withheld them from television appearances (unless they were allowed to play an uninterrupted set or choose the setlist).[17]


Bruce Eder of AllMusic called it the duo's "first masterpiece," one that regarded "youthful exuberance and alienation, [proving] perennially popular among older, more thoughtful high-school students and legions of college audiences across generations."[18] Andy Fyfe of BBC Music felt the record carried a sense of timelessness, calling its "boldest themes [...] still worryingly pertinent today," while remarking that the record as a whole "reflected the social upheaval of the mid-60s while playing as substantial a part in folk rock's evolution."[19]

In 2003, Rolling Stone listed the album at number 202 on their list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[20] Disc jockey and author Pete Fornatale wrote that, "Few others have come close to the intelligence, beauty, variety, creativity, and craftsmanship that Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme captured."[21] Andrew Gilbert, in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, called it "their first great album," producing "a sense of impending doom and Simon's insistence on emotional connection that makes the album such an enduring work."[1]


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Robert Dimery U.S. 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[1] 2005 *
Rolling Stone The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time[20] 2012 202

(*) designates unordered lists.

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Paul Simon except where noted.

Side one
  1. "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" (Traditional, arranged by Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel) – 3:10
    Recorded: July 26, 1966
  2. "Patterns" – 2:42
    Recorded: June 8, 1966
  3. "Cloudy" (Paul Simon, Bruce Woodley) – 2:10
    Recorded: June 10, 1966
  4. "Homeward Bound" – 2:30 [not on UK release]
    Recorded: December 14, 1965
  5. "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" – 2:44
    Recorded: June 15, 1966
  6. "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" – 1:43
    Recorded: August 16, 1966
Side two
  1. "The Dangling Conversation" – 2:37
    Recorded: June 21, 1966
  2. "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall" – 2:10
    Recorded: December 22, 1965
  3. "A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd into Submission)" – 2:12
    Recorded: June 13, 1966
  4. "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" – 2:04
    Recorded: August 22, 1966
  5. "A Poem on the Underground Wall" – 1:52
    Recorded: June 13, 1966
  6. "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night" (Josef Mohr, Franz Gruber) – 2:01
    Recorded: August 22, 1966

Chart positions[edit]




  1. ^ a b c d Dimery, Robert (ed.) (2005). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Milan: Universe Publishing, p. 94. First edition, 2005.
  2. ^ Fornatale 2007, p. 57.
  3. ^ Bennighof 2007, p. 31.
  4. ^ a b c Eliot 2010, p. 71.
  5. ^ a b Bennighof 2007, p. 22.
  6. ^ a b Bennighof 2007, p. 23.
  7. ^ Bennighof 2007, p. 24.
  8. ^ Bennighof 2007, p. 26.
  9. ^ Bennighof 2007, p. 27.
  10. ^ Bennighof 2007, p. 28.
  11. ^ a b Bennighof 2007, p. 29.
  12. ^ a b Bennighof 2007, p. 30.
  13. ^ "Three for Tonight". Kraft Music Hall. January 3, 1968. NBC. 
  14. ^ Jackson, Laura (2004). Paul Simon: The Definitive Biography. New York: Citadel Press, p.99. First edition, 2004.
  15. ^ a b c Bennighof 2007, p. 32.
  16. ^ Eliot 2010, p. 73.
  17. ^ a b Eliot 2010, p. 72.
  18. ^ Bruce Eder. "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme - Simon & Garfunkel". AllMusic. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  19. ^ Andy Fyfe (2009). "BBC - Music - Review of Simon & Garfunkel's Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme". BBC Music. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone (Wenner Media LLC). May 31, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  21. ^ Fornatale 2007, p. 58.
  22. ^ "Simon & Garfunkel – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme". Hung Medien. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  23. ^ "Simon & Garfunkel – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Simon & Garfunkel. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  24. ^ "1969-03-01 Top 40 UK Albums Archive". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  25. ^ "American album certifications – Simon & Garfunkel – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH


External links[edit]