The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine
|"The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine"|
|Song by Simon & Garfunkel|
|from the album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme|
|A-side||"The Dangling Conversation"|
|Released||October 10, 1966|
|Recorded||December 1965 – August 1966|
"The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" is a 1966 song originally by Simon & Garfunkel released on their album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Written by Paul Simon, it is a commentary on advertising. It was also released as a B-side of "The Dangling Conversation", which charted at number 25 on Billboard's Hot 100.
Writing and composition
"The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" was written by Simon while he was in London apparently watching his clothes in a washing machine. It takes a cynical view of the advertising on Madison Avenue in New York City. The song also includes references to the hippie movement during the Vietnam War as well as a series of unanswered personal questions. The lyrics are "blisteringly satirical" and aimed at various popular culture targets. In the original album notes, Ralph J. Gleason said this song and "The Dangling Conversation" were criticisms of television and radio commercials. The notes for The Columbia Studio Recordings (1964–1970), a 2001 release of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme and four other albums, called the track "Simon's caricature of consumer culture". The song's verses arpeggiate in full 1—3—5—8—3 on the I chord.
Release and reception
"The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" was the fifth track on Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, which was released on October 10, 1966 and peaked at number four on the Billboard 200. It was then released as a B-side of "The Dangling Conversation", reaching number 25 on Billboard's Hot 100. In the February 1968 release of the soundtrack for the movie The Graduate, the song appeared (in a different version) as the eleventh track.
"The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" received generally positive reviews. Allmusic's Matthew Greenwald wrote a review of the song, comparing it to Marty Balin's "Plastic Fantastic Lover" (recorded by Jefferson Airplane on their 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow). Greenwald called it "a great putdown song about the effect of television" that "succeeds precisely because the overall sound of the record conveys the over-saturation and ridiculous nature of the medium". In Allmusic's review of the album, Bruce Eder defined the song as a "sneering rock & roll-based social commentary". Andy Fyfe of BBC Music said in his review of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme that the song "may seem slight on the surface, but their joy at merely being alive reflected the optimism of youth in a time of crisis", referring to the Vietnam War.
In a 2006 review of The Graduate, John Nesbit said that although the duo's songs "blend in quite well", he called the track "a silly flop that no self-respecting young person played even back in the 1960s".
- Charlesworth, Chris (1997). The complete guide to the music of Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel. London, England; New York City, New York: Omnibus Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-7119-5597-4.
- Fornatale, Pete (2007). Simon and Garfunkel's Bookends. New York City, New York: Rodale. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-59486-427-8.
- Gleason, Ralph J. (1966). Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (Vinyl booklet). Simon & Garfunkel. Columbia Records. CS 9363.
- Scoppa, Bud (2001). The Columbia Studio Recordings (1964–1970) (CD booklet). Simon & Garfunkel. Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings. p. 37. C5K 63815.
- Everett, Walter (2008). The Foundations of Rock: From "Blue Suede Shoes" to "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes". Oxford; New York City, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-19-531023-8.
- Fyfe, Andy (September 2, 2009). "Its boldest themes are still worryingly pertinent today". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- "Simon & Garfunkel Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Ankeny, Jason. "The Graduate > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Greenwald, Matthew. "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine". Allmusic. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Eder, Bruce. "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Nesbit, John (2006). "Mike Nichols, The Graduate". Old School Reviews. Retrieved January 9, 2010.