“A Hazy Shade Of Winter” — Simon and Garfunkel

“A Hazy Shade Of Winter” isn’t a song about the weather, the seasons or the time of year at all…despite initial appearances. It’s a song about life.

Paul Simon wrote “A Hazy Shade Of Winter” during his time in England and it’s a fair bet that the ever-unpredictable English weather provided the beginnings of an idea for him.

I also think he’d been listening to a lot of Dave Clark Five songs on the UK radio before he wrote it, because that very un-Simon-and-Garfunkel pounding drumbeat is, however, very Dave Clark Five.

The first clue that “A Hazy Shade Of Winter” is so much more than a musical weather forecast comes in the opening lines…

Time, time, time, see what’s become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities
I was so hard to please

This is a song about looking back on life, or at least a significant stage of life…the sort of thing you might do as a significant birthday approaches…and asking yourself “did I get to where I’d hoped?”

Whether it’s the end of your twenties, the collapse of a long-term relationship or leaving a job for pastures new after many years’ service, “A Hazy Shade Of Winter” is about reflecting on your journey up to that point.

A farmer can’t plant his crops when the ground is frozen, so he stays in the farmhouse, reflecting and planning for the year ahead. “A Hazy Shade Of Winter” is about a stage of life that’s over.

You can’t go back. There’s no do-overs. What’s gone is gone.

“What’s become of me?” is an all-too-common question tortured souls ask themselves.

And it’s a question that cuts two ways. It can be a valuable question to ask yourself as part of a process of reflection and introspection.

But it can also be a self-defeating question if you beat yourself up for all the things you did wrong and keep telling yourself how stupid you are for letting someone special slip through your fingers or how crazy you were to give up a good job for some crazy scheme.

You see, win lose or draw, it’s over. It’s done. Stop spending time regretting the past that didn’t work out the way you planned. Start making your future into whatever you want it to be.

These things will pass. They always do. Leave “winter” behind. Start to build your future.

Simon and Garfunkel get us to that place in pretty short order. At just a little over two minutes, “A Hazy Shade Of Winter” doesn’t hang around…which might account for those Dave Clark Five-style drums.

Simon and Garfunkel quickly set up the story, and then get us thinking about the possibilities, the alternatives, the new routes to try…

Hang on to your hopes, my friend
That’s an easy thing to say
But if your hopes should pass away
Simply pretend
That you can build them again
Look around
The grass is high
The fields are ripe
It’s the springtime of my life

No matter what you think…no matter what troubles you have…no matter what scars you bear…there’s always an opportunity to start again.

Maybe you don’t get where you thought you would…

But maybe the universe has other plans for you…maybe somewhere better than you imagined…somewhere that’s a better fit for who you really are, not who you tell yourself you are, who you’d like to be or who other people expect you to be.

The real you. The you that’s sometimes hard for all of us to recognise in ourselves. The you that you can’t discover until you stop doing what didn’t work and try something different.

That might not work either, but you can try again and again and again. You need to keep going until you find it. There’s something you need to find out for yourself, but when you do, you’re on the path that’s meant to be.

You can begin anew. And who knows where that might take you…

Winter’s darkest hour is a sign that spring is on its way.

At first you barely notice, but dawn breaks a minute or two earlier as each day passes. The birds who flew away when the cold weather arrived start to return, their song waking you up each morning. The trees and plants wake up from their hibernation, seeking warmth, energy and nutrition from the sun so they can start the next phase of their life and begin to grow again.

Like plants, we can’t stay in winter for ever either. Without warmth, energy and love, we don’t have a life…certainly not a life worth living.

The darkest hour is always just before dawn.

The shortest day means spring is on its way.

When your heart can’t break any more, that means it’s starting to heal.

When you start to move forward, the pain might not stop right away, but the intensity starts dialling back. Until, set against the new life you’ve found for yourself, you start to forget the tribulations of the past…

Seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won’t you stop and remember me
At any convenient time?
Funny how my memory skips
Looking over manuscripts
Of unpublished rhyme
Drinking vodka and lime

Simon and Garfunkel are telling us not to trap ourselves in winter, but to put the past behind us and set out on a different path.

No less a mind than Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

You’ll never make yourself happy beating yourself up about the past…after all, how well has that worked for you up to now?

It’s time to move on. Leave “the hazy shade of winter” behind you. Spring is just around the corner…

In addition to Simon and Garfunkel’s version of “A Hazy Shade Of Winter”, The Bangles did a pretty good version in the late 1980s which you can find here… https://youtu.be/TxrwImCJCqk

But for a Paul Simon song, there is only one band who can really do this justice…Simon and Garfunkel. And here they are to prove it…

PS — just before we get to the video, if you enjoyed this article, please give it a “clap”. You can also follow me on Medium (here)to get new articles as soon as they’re published. And why not check out my book “No Words, No Song”, where I write about more great songs like this one, available in the Kindle Bookstore (here).

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Without words, it’s just a nice tune. Add words — now you’ve got a song. And songs can change your world. I write about some that changed mine.

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