I still haven’t shaken it

“As a folk duo, how much could recording costs be?” asked the record producer who had been brought in to help Paul Simon get back into the studio during a bout of writer’s block. Unfortunately for Columbia Records the recording costs for Simon & Garfunkel could be memorable.

It was the summer of ’67, the Beatles had just released Sgt. Pepper, and the “duo” were working on a concept album of their own (exploring the cycle of life) called Bookends. 

The first session was for this track and after percussionists, brass and viola players had been brought in, everyone worked through the night to find just the right sound. Greatly influenced by Strawberry Fields Forever and Tomorrow Never Knows, the outcome is said to lyrically reflect Simon’s tenuous working relationship with his lifelong “frenemy,” Art Garfunkel.

The woman “entering” the tailor shop was folk singer Beverley Martyn, an associate of Simon’s who was good friends with (“the Scottish Dylan”) Donovan, whose last name is Leitch, hence the tailor’s name. Apparently Simon had wondered what his vocation might have been had he lived a century earlier and concluded that he surely would have been a tailor in Vienna or Budapest. Only later did he learn that his grandfather, whose name was also Paul Simon, actually was a tailor who’d lived in Vienna a century earlier.

Released as a single in June 1967 (the album itself was released the following year) the song’s running time is 3 minutes and 14 seconds, but since AM stations resisted anything that ran longer than 3 minutes, Simon slyly faked the time printed on the label to read 2:74.

Fakin’ It

When she goes, she’s gone

If she stays, she stays here

The girl does what she wants to do,

She knows what she wants to do

And I know I’m fakin’ it,

I’m not really makin’ it.

 I’m such a dubious soul

And a walk in the garden

Wears me down.

Tangled in the fallen vines,

Pickin’ up the punch lines,

I’ve just been fakin’ it,

Not really makin’ it.

 Is there any danger?

No, no not really,

Just lean on me.

Takin’ time to treat,

Your friendly neighbors honestly.

I’ve just been fakin’ it,

I’m not really makin’ it,

This feeling of fakin’ it.

I still haven’t shaken it.

 Prior to this lifetime

I surely was a tailor, look at me.

[Good morning, Mr. Leitch.

Have you had a busy day?]

I own the tailor’s face and hands

I am the tailor’s face and hands and

I know I’m fakin’ it

I’m not really makin’ it

This feeling of fakin’ it

I still haven’t shaken it.

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