Sunday, September 8, 2013

Song #346 of 9999 - The Dangling Conversation by Simon and Garfunkel

Tonight, we close out 1966 with my very first GUEST BLOGGER. Austin Wood teaches English in Moscow, Russia, while living his life as a "passionate language learner" and "extreme minimalist." He writes a blog about his love of traveling and his goal of eradicating the student debt he racked up studying physics and linguistics at the University of Maryland. In an earlier life, I taught him to play the viola; now, he is an inspiration to me.

Song #346 of 9999 

Title: The Dangling Conversation
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Year: 1966
Album: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

The anticlimactic release of their 1964 debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., prompted Paul Simon to retreat to England while Art Garfunkel returned to Columbia in pursuit of a Ph.D. in mathematics. During this time, producer Tom Wilson overdubbed a track off the duo's first album with electric instruments and released it without consulting either musician. Paul received news of the track's release only after the new and electrified version of The Sound of Silence began creeping its way up the charts. With a second chance at stardom, the group reunited and released two albums in 1966.

Lyrically, The Dangling Conversation continues the theme of broken communication that Paul explored in their first hit, The Sound of Silence. While The Sound of Silence explores this theme on a national and global level, The Dangling Conversation narrows in on communication at a personal level. In an interview, Paul revealed that when he performs this song, vivid images of people close to him — two lovers or a pair of friends — flash in his mind. Paul describes these two people who have grown apart over the years, "We are verses out of rhythm, couplets out of rhyme, in syncopated time." Art Garfunkel's angelic voice provides the harmony, cleverly repeating the last line with bold syncopation.

Sound engineer Roy Halee — who worked hand in hand with Simon and Garfunkel on all five studio albums — realized early on that traditional multi-tracking techniques were not sufficient for the duo's unique blend. In order to capture the full beauty of their harmonies, their voices had to be recorded at the same with one microphone. However, to add more depth, he recorded each voice a second time individually, hence using three tracks for the two-part vocals. This technique can be found on almost all their tracks, including The Dangling Conversation.

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