Friday, January 18, 2013

Looking for America

A few years ago I was watching the Fourth of July festivities from Washington, D.C.  

As I watched the performances they announced Josh Groban.  I was vaguely familiar with him.  He seemed like a nice guy.

He sang Simon and Garfunkle's well known song America.  If you were not familiar with the original it would have sounded fine.  In fact, to be honest, it was pleasant enough to listen to.

Here is the YouTube version of his performance that night.

However, if you know (or grew up with) the original, then the Josh Groban version sounded .... mushy.  Okay.  Mushy is not an accepted term but that is all I can think of.  He has a pleasant voice, is apparently a very nice person and this song is nice to listen to.  But it is ...mushy.

The Simon and Garfunkel rendition tells a story.  You can understand the words.  It has a very precise, even beat though the words do not rhyme. Paul Simon was thinking about a young woman named Kathy Chitty when he wrote this song in 1968.

It is my understanding she is the woman pictured with him on the cover of this album.

I don't know what happened to Kathy Chitty but can only assume that she, like most of us, got on with her life as the years went by. Still, Simon and Garfunkel are beyond special in my opinion. I guess I see them as bigger than life and when someone, anyone, does one of their songs I find myself being critical. That is probably not fair or right but that is how I feel. Here is the REAL rendition of America as done by Simon and Garfunkel.

PS Sometimes what I do in my classes is play both of these songs for students to listen to and have them explain the differences they hear. Though it has nothing to do with the law, it allows me to see fairly quickly which students will more than likely be successful in the class by their ability to appreciate and perceive the differences in these two renditions.

1 comment:

A Lady's Life said...

There truly is a difference in style. One is opera, classical the other with guitar appeals to the pop culture and pushes America.
I like both .