America :: First Aid Kit
“‘Kathy, I’m lost’, I said,
Though I know she was sleeping.
‘I’m empty and aching and
I don’t know why.'”
America is a song originally by duo Simon & Garfunkel from their fourth studio album, Bookends (1968). Produced by the duo themselves and Roy Halee, the song was later issued as a single in 1972 to promote the release of Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits.
The song was written by Paul Simon and concerns young lovers hitchhiking their way across the United States, in search of “America,” one both literal and physical. It was inspired by a 1964 road trip with his girlfriend Kathy Chitty.
The song has been regarded as one of Simon’s strongest songwriting efforts and one of the duo’s best songs. A 2014 Rolling Stone reader’s poll ranked it the group’s fourth best song.
America was inspired by a five-day road excursion in September 1964 with Simon’s love interest Kathy Chitty. Producer Tom Wilson had called Simon back to the United States to finalize mixes and artwork for their debut studio album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. Simon, living in London at the time, was reluctant to leave Chitty, and invited her to come with him, forgetting the album and spending five days driving the country together.
Several years later, America was among the last songs recorded for Bookends, when production assistant John Simon left Columbia Records, forcing Simon, Garfunkel, and producer Roy Halee to complete the record themselves.
In 2004, Bob Dyer, a former disc jockey from Saginaw, Michigan, explained the song’s genesis in an interview with The Saginaw News. According to Dyer, Simon wrote the song while visiting the town in 1966, when he booked him for Y-A-Go-Go, a concert series hosted by the Saginaw YMCA.
In 2010, lyrics from the song began appearing spray-painted on vacant buildings and abandoned factories in the town of Saginaw, Michigan, which is mentioned in the song. The group of artists, Paint Saginaw, decided to paint the phrases after the population had dwindled vastly, noting that the song became rather “homesick” for the town’s residents. The song’s entire lyrics are painted on 28 buildings in the city, including railroad tracks and bridge supports.
America :: Simon And Garfunkel
The original is one of my all-time favorite songs. There are times the song hits me so deeply that it brings tears. Other times, it makes me itch to be on the road. It is the theme song to journeys I want to take.