The Infinite Jukebox: Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘I am a Rock’

One afternoon, I was out driving. There was a cassette tape playing, a compilation tape of stuff recorded from the radio, mainly, over many years. This song came on. The woman with me listened carefully to the words and then asked me if I didn’t realise how much they applied to me. Or rather, to the me I had been before meeting her.
She seemed amazed that I had never made the connection, and it’s true that, once I listened again, the connection was obvious. The only explanation I could give was that I had known the song, been very familiar with it, since the Seventies, when it was just another Simon and Garfunkel song, a hit single, but their least successful hit in Britain, reaching only no. 19 where all their other successes had been top 10 records.
Familiarity had bred, in this instance, not so much contempt as oblivion. It was quite true that I had been shaped by events to echo the singer, though the song wasn’t true in every respect. A rock may feel no pain, and an island may never cry, but in this instance both were states I would have aspired to if I had consciously understood that this song was coming to be about me, and when it mattered most, neither state had saved me.
But I could not deny the force of Paul Simon’s middle eight: Hiding in my room/safe within my womb/I touch no-one and no-one touches me.
Time rolls on, and once again Paul Simon is singing for me, and this time I cannot hear the song without reflecting on its words. Once seen, things never become unseen again. I have suffered from depression for years. It is once again severe, and my best times are hiding in my room.
I wish this song meant nothing to me again, but a vibrant tune.

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