Sonically, Bookends is a continuation of the baroque folk pop of Parsley, but lyrically it’s much more mature and richer. Bookends is based around an aging theme, with childhood represented in ‘Punky’s Dilemma’ and ‘At The Zoo’, adolescence in ‘Save the Life of My Child’, young adults in ‘America’, older adults in ‘Overs’, and old age in ‘Old Friends’ and ‘A Hazy Shade of Winter’.
Instead of pretentious poetry, Paul Simon’s songwriting finger is on the pulse on American society; ‘Mrs. Robinson’ asks “Where have you gone Joe Di Maggio/a nation turns a lonely eye to you,” while ‘America’, reflects a climate of apathy in a nation unsure of itself at the height of Vietnam (“Kathy, I’m lost I said though I knew she was sleeping/I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.”).
Bookends is Simon and Garfunkel’s most consistent record, and the only quibble I have with it is that it’s too short; even including interviews with old people and variations on the Bookends theme, and it still clocks in at less than half an hour.