Bookends: Getting Old Beats the Alternative, by Knute Rimkus

Just listened to Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends. So many things anachronistic about the activity — 1967 album, listening to a whole album, actually was an LP I digitized. And I’m not the first to observe the weirdness of Paul Simon, who sings “how terribly strange to be 70” being over 70 now.

I think Simon was trying to be sympathetic to older people, but I can’t help but think that he would not portray them the way he does if he were making that album now. It would be interesting to hear his reflections on what he was thinking then and how he reflects on it now.

What young people like Simon 50 years ago didn’t understand, or at least l– as the great omnipotent subjective voice– didn’t understand when I was young, is that life gets better as you age. Old people aren’t necessarily unhappy. I enjoy life far more now than I did 30 years ago. The whole business makes much more sense now.

In an interview with Forbes, Art Garfunkel said, “[The line] was intended to be how terribly strange to be 70 when you’re an old man sitting on a park bench with your buddy, and you make bookends with him. But as I turned 70, I remember thinking ‘piece of cake. Drive right through, man.’”

Bookends is a brilliant album, but I definitely would ditch the orchestra. All those strings and gentle French horns make the songs a little precious.

– Knute Rimkus

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