"America" by Simon and Garfunkel
"America" was written by Paul Simon and released in 1968 on Simon and Garfunkel's "Bookends" album. It is a song that almost always fills the listener with a certain tinge of melancholy. It is a song about leaving one place and attempting to find a home in another.
"America" is a notable tune because of it's prose-style and un-rhymed lyrics. At first listen, it is hard to tell that the lyrics do not rhyme because the melody and tempered rhythm of the prose style. If the lyrics were read rather than heard in a song, it could very well pass as a very short, but still compelling story.
America in "America"
Sprinkled throughout the lyrics of the song are references to real towns and places within America. From Pittsburgh to Michigan to Saginaw to the New Jersey Turnpike, the two lovers in the song travel by Greyhound bus in search of, what else, "America."
As the song begins, the listener is almost dropped into a private conversation, and like a fly on the wall we follow these wary travelers as they search for something that is never found. With the money they have and the "real estate" in their bag they set off across the country to find "America", wherever it lays. We follow the couple through the playfulness regarding a man and his gabardine suit, through the regarding an empty pack of cigarettes, and all the way to the sorrowful apex when our narrator relays that familiar feeling of unrest, the uneasy acknowledgment of the emptiness we all feel at least once in our lives, and for some a feeling that persists as long as we live. The narrator hopes to fill this emptiness with this journey but perhaps doubts its success when he sees all "the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike" which are filled with people all trying to do the same thing.
This great cinematic song is easily one of Simon and Garfunkel's best. It deserves the recognition of picturing the American struggle, so filled with sorrow, hope, the sting of emptiness and the need to pick up a bag, travel on, and find America.