A Reason to Smile: It's Summertime, and the living is supposed to be easy. Yet, for an entire plethora of reasons, Abq Jew feels off-schedule and way behind on the many mundane tasks of Life.
Which have recently included preparing mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially for an upcoming positively celebratory event that we all know must be prepared for months in advance.
Thank God! Ken O'Hara! Yet Abq Jew still feels like he's running behind.
The Boxer: A Reason to SmilePain is an inevitable part of life, and none of us emerges unscathed. For some, the traumas are more acute — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But there is also the indelible spirit of fighting on in the face of everything thrown against you.There are many songs that capture this quintessentially human experience, and one of the best is Paul Simon’s classic “The Boxer,” which was released as a single in 1969. A year later it was included on Simon and Garfunkel’s fifth and final studio album, Bridge Over Troubled Water.Simon later said the song about a prize fighter and the bruises of a hard life was semi-autobiographical. He himself wasn’t a pugilist, but by the time he wrote the song, he had endured his share of criticism and difficult living. It’s hard to believe he was still just in his 20s.Most of the song’s lyrics evocatively express loneliness, poverty, and struggle, with lines like:“Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” and
“Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters where the ragged people go looking for the places only they would know”
It was a tough year. But Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel, two Jewish guys from Queens, got Abq Jew through it. Their album Bridge Over Troubled Water had come out in January 1970, and Abq Jew knew most of the songs by heart.Now the years are rolling by meThey are rocking evenlyAnd I am older than I once wasAnd younger than I'll beBut that's not unusualNo, it isn't strangeAfter changes upon changesWe are more or less the sameAfter changes we areMore or less the sameIn the clearing stands a boxer .....
And that is where Abq Jew left off. Perhaps not surprisingly, this is exactly where Dan Rather picks up -
But in the end, we get the hope of resilience that can emerge from struggle and suffering.In the clearing stands a boxerAnd a fighter by his tradeAnd he carries the remindersOf every glove that laid him downOr cut him till he cried outIn his anger and his shame“I am leaving, I am leaving”But the fighter still remainsThe song also tells its story through powerful musical composition. It was a painstaking recording process, involving multiple locations and over 100 hours.
There are wonderful instrumental accompaniments, but one of the song’s signatures is a simple vocal repetition of the phrase “Lie-la-lie.” Originally those sounds were stand-ins for lyrics yet to be written. But Simon chose to keep them. Sometimes we can express more through pure music than words can offer.We found, in our own times of struggle and uncertainty, reasons to smile in this remarkable song. We are sharing the original studio recording below. But first, this song has also been covered many times, and one of our favorites has a country style, showing the universality of the message.It is from a concert in 2007, when the Library of Congress awarded its first Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to Paul Simon.
Here the close harmony is by two women of immense talent and vocal power: Alison Krauss and Shawn Colvin.
They are accompanied by the equally brilliant Dobro and lap steel guitar player Jerry Douglas.
And here’s the original recording by Simon and Garfunkel:
Click here for the complete concert.
Or click here for The Boxer!