02 August 2011

Now playing...

... "A church is burning", sung by Paul Simon.

It used to give me the shivers in my mid-to-late teens. It wasn't just the protest song nature of it (though that was the genre that most moved me at the time) or the fact that it came from one half of Simon & Garfunkel (which, I confess, also gave it a head start for me) or the rousing tune (which certainly helped). I was also deeply impressed, then, by its ecumenicalism: the identification of a Jewish singer/songwriter with a oppression of Christian victims. Christian imagery ran through other parts of Simon's repertoire too: not always to Christanity's credit, as in "Blessed" for example, but ecumenical nevertheless.

It gives me the shivers still.

  • Paul Simon, The Paul Simon songbook, "A church is burning". 1965, London: CBS.
  • Simon & Garfunkel, Sound of silence, "Blessed". 1966, New York: Columbia.

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