Column: Simon, Garfunkel’s ‘The Dangling Conversation’ is liquid poetry

Logan Raschke, Managing Editor

Listening to Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel feels like absorbing beautiful poetry without having to read it. The duo’s “The Dangling Conversation” is no exception.

The 1966 song, released in Simon and Garfunkel’s Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme album, is just as harmonious and pleasing as any of their songs.

Nothing in life is perfect, but the voice combination of Simon and Garfunkel is pretty close.

Where Simon’s voice is sturdy and grounded, taking the lower range of notes with ease, Garfunkel’s soft, floaty tenor soars. Neither voice is more overbearing than the other, and they’re both codependent. It’s the definition of a symbiotic relationship.

The lyrics are profound and eloquent in nature, which isn’t uncommon for Simon and Garfunkel songs. There are multiple ways to analyze the story behind the words: “The Dangling Conversation” could tell the tale of a couple growing apart, calloused by years of empty intimacy. 

Another interpretation could be that a couple is growing old together, accepting that conversations aren’t as lively as they used to be because, well, what can you say to someone you’ve spent a lifetime with that you haven’t said already?

The singers paint a picture with the lyrics: “As the sun shines through the curtained lace and shadows watch the room … You read your Emily Dickinson and I my Robert Frost and we note our place with bookmarkers to measure what we’ve lost.” Just in those phrases, listeners can imagine a calm couple in their living room, perhaps, maybe sipping tea, living separately while in each other’s company. It’s profound, but not pompous. Beautiful, but not proud.

Maybe one of the coolest things about the song is the parallelism between the words and the rhythm itself. In one verse, Simon and Garfunkel sing “Like a poem poorly written, we are verses out of rhythm, couplets out of rhyme in syncopated time” in beautiful harmony. As Simon sings “in syncopated time,” Garfunkel responds with “sync-o-pate-ed-time” in, you guessed it, actual syncopated time. Little details like that make the listening experience worthwhile and timeless.

The song may be several decades old, but people who have never tried folk rock need to listen to Simon and Garfunkel, and if they’re listening to Simon and Garfunkel, they cannot pass up “The Dangling Conversation.” It’s just too good. 

Logan Raschke is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]