“The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” — Simon and Garfunkel
There was a time when “groovy” was the state of mind everyone aspired to. Now it’s just a word that embarrasses my daughter when I use it in front of her friends.
“Everybody feeling groovy?” I ask when I bring the drinks and treats into the room when her friends come round.
If you don’t have a teenage daughter you might not fully understand what it’s like to see them trying to be polite and stifling the laughter they feel welling up inside because their friend’s dad has dared to use such an un-cool expression in front of them…
And the minute I leave the snacks and close the door behind me, I love to hear the explosion of laughter from a roomful of teenagers who can’t hold it in any more. I like to hear my daughter laugh, so I don’t mind.
I don’t even mind her friends seeing me as un-cool, because let’s face it, that’s a pretty accurate judgement. I’ve been un-cool all my life, so I’ve had plenty of time to get used to it.
But I do feel sorry for the word “groovy”. There was a time that word was cool…all the most popular kids in class used it as they feigned a casual, chilled-out approach to life. That was what you did back then — looking like you were making too much of an effort was rather frowned upon.
The more casual you were, the groovier you were. The groovier you were, the cooler you were. It’s what everyone aspired to.
There was a time in Paul Simon’s life when he aspired to be a bit groovier too.
That might be hard to imagine. It seems he’s always been a global superstar…both with and without Art Garfunkel…so it’s hard to remember a point in time before his skilfully crafted songs became regular visitors to the top of the pop charts.
Now I’m old…very old in my daughter’s eyes…but I’m not old enough to remember a time before Paul Simon was famous. He’s always been famous to me.
But back in the early 1960s, Paul Simon spent a year in England, travelling around, singing in folk clubs, going wherever he could pick up a couple of quid for playing his guitar and singing his songs.
While he was away, things started happening for him State-side. “The Sound Of Silence” gained traction and started motoring up the charts. From his year of obscurity, Paul Simon was asked to make records, headline gigs and tour around the country with Art Garfunkel.
In a way, it’s what everyone who ever picked up a guitar dreams of. But that’s a much harder transition to make than you might imagine. You go from having no expectations placed upon you to having hundreds of people’s livelihoods depend on you…your manager, your road crew, your producer, the backing singers — the list goes on and on. Everyone wants a piece of the action.
In the midst of all this, Paul Simon was crossing New York’s Queensboro Bridge on a bright sunny morning. And he started writing the song that would become “The 59th Street Bridge Song”.
In case you’re wondering, the Queensboro Bridge is at 59th Street in New York., which is how Paul Simon’s journey that morning links back to our story.
However most people couldn’t tell you that “The 59th Street Bridge Song” is the proper title of today’s song. But almost everyone knows the “feeling groovy” refrain and calls the song that instead.
I know the 1960s were all about tuning out, but however pressurised the world was then, it’s got a lot more pressurised since. So this is still good advice…
Slow down, you move too fast
You’ve got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy
We all move too fast. Apparently the average goldfish can now hold their attention longer than the average teenager…and not because goldfish are somehow getting smarter…
There’s a generation growing up which has never seen the sky because they walk around with their heads bowed over their smartphones all day long.
They could do with slowing down and not moving quite so fast…
Even if all you have to do is chase the dopamine rush from getting some likes on your Instagram feed, we’ve all got too much to do. I like the sound of this instead…
I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morningtime drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you, all is groovy
You don’t need teenagers to embarrass to enjoy feeling groovy.
All you need is some headphones and the time to listen to a Simon and Garfunkel classic. Soon you’ll start to feel groovy yourself…and for bonus points you can try to name all the bizarre instruments used on-stage in this video…
Here’s Simon and Garfunkel live with “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”…
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) or Twitter (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).