‘Old Friends” by Dorothy Riley

I have often wondered, if there was to be one song that captured the essence of friendship, and the deep sense of fondness, affection and respect, what would it sound like?

And my mind would always play back Simon & Garfunkel’s ” Old Friends/ Bookends Theme ” from their BOOKENDS album. It becomes all the more poignant with the musicians themselves, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, sharing a rare, fulfilling and unique relationship that started way back in 1957, and been around ever since.

The painting that is featured is one by an American artist, Dorothy Riley, which I can identify with easily, and am sure, you can too.

It isn’t difficult to relate to the emotions, if you can close your eyes and rattle of the names from your childhood without missing a beat.

It becomes all the more unique when you have a larder full of tales that never seem to tire you out, as you repeat it, over and over again, till your ever loving wife screams out in   another boys’ meeting ” You mention that coconut operation once more, and I swear to God, I will scream!”

Bud Scoppa , who wrote the the CD sleeve note for the album, when it was re-issued in 2001, said:

The audio of  Voices of Old People” sets up the elegiac ‘OLD FRIENDS’, underpinned by a lovely string and horn arrangement that threatens to erupt into cacophony, a la The Beatles’ A Day in the Life, before the storm passes and the focus   shifts to the image of two old men sitting on a park bench, “silently sharing the same fear.” ‘OLD FRIENDS’ flows seamlessly into a restatement of the ‘BOOKENDS THEME’, which Simon brings to close with the suggestion, “Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.

Listen to OLD FRIENDS here.

Here are the lyrics.

Old friends, old friends sat on their parkbench like bookends
A newspaper blowin’ through the grass
Falls on the round toes of the high shoes of the old friends

Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sun
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settles like dust on the shoulders of the old friends

Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a parkbench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy

Old friends, memory brushes the same years, silently sharing the same fears
Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, A time of confidences
Long ago it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.


One Response

  1. I am pleased to see my work here paired with two masters- Simon and Garfunkel. This was painted for some friends of mine who have been through very much in their lives yet remain friends decades later.

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