Simon & Garfunkel – I Am A Rock

I first found this song on Simon and Garfunkel’s greatest hits. At times everyone could relate to this song. Beautiful melody along with lyrics about someone shutting themselves from life. The verse I’ve built walls, A fortress deep and mighty, That none may penetrate, I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain, I am a rock, I am an island… says it all.

The song peaked at #3 in the Billboard 100, #6 in Canada, #2  in New Zealand, and #17 in the Uk in 1966.

In the UK, this was released three times in a one year span: first as the original Paul Simon single in 1965, then in the summer of 1966, it was released as an EP and again as a single. The song was very popular there in 1966, but the chart position suffered because the sales of the single were diluted by multiple releases.

From Songfacts

This song is about a recluse locking himself away from the world. When he says, “I am a rock, I am an island,” he means away from everything and everyone. It’s far from autobiographical, as Paul Simon was doing his best to write a hit song with this effort, and didn’t write it for himself. The use of the word “rock” is interesting in that Simon considered himself a folk singer, and didn’t associate himself with rock music. In the vast majority of songs with the word “rock” in the lyrics, it is used to imply music or lifestyle, but for Simon, it was just a piece of stone. He did the same thing in 1973 for his song “Loves Me Like A Rock.”

This song has one of more perplexing histories of recordings and releases. Written by Paul Simon before he hit it big as a musician, the song was offered to the duo Chad and Jeremy, who turned it down. Simon then recorded it himself for his UK solo album (released in America 1981) The Paul Simon Songbook, which was released in the UK in August 1965. The single was issued in September but didn’t chart despite a performance by Simon on the show Ready, Steady. Go!

Simon was going solo at this time because the Simon & Garfunkel 1964 debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. had stiffed, and the duo split up. Late in 1965, the producer Tom Wilson overdubbed and remixed a track from that album, “The Sound Of Silence,” and it became a huge hit. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were summoned back to the studio, where they recorded the singles “I Am A Rock” and “Homeward Bound,” which were included on their Sound of Silence album. These songs were recorded with producer Bob Johnston at one of the Columbia Records studios in New York City, and now released with a more contemporary sound, “I Am A Rock” became a hit for the duo.

The guitarist on the Simon & Garfunkel hit version of this song was Ralph Casale, who was a top session player in the ’60s. He remembers organist Al Kooper and drummer Bobby Gregg – both associated with Bob Dylan – also performing on the song. Describing the sessions, Ralph told us: “The band was booked from 7:00 p.m. into the wee hours of the morning. I was given a lead sheet for ‘I Am A Rock’ with just chords and asked to play the electric twelve string guitar. The producer wanted a sound similar to the Byrds. It was important that session players became familiar with the current hits because many times producers describe the style they want by referring to well known groups. Paul Simon sang the figure he wanted me to play between verses and asked me to play it in thirds. The rest was left to me. ‘Homeward Bound’ was on that same date.”

I Am A Rock

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark
I am alone
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow
I am a rock
I am an island

I’ve built walls
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain
I am a rock
I am an island

Don’t talk of love
But I’ve heard the words before
It’s sleeping in my memory
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried
I am a rock
I am an island

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock
I am an island

And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

20 thoughts on “Simon & Garfunkel – I Am A Rock”

    1. That is why we love music… it’s great that a song can inspire and comfort.

      Off topic. I went went to a family reunion yesterday and guess what game they had? The beanbag…. none of us were that guy that was on your video lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. S & G was another set of music I grew up on. My dad was particularly attached to The Sound of Silence and The Graduate. He graduated college in 1967. On the flip side of that, The Breakfast Club was our generation. The movie takes place in March 1984.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The Graduate got me into them at first. I still love the movie.

      I agree that The Breakfast Club was huge on our generation. The music… everything.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL…I’m not either… but it’s a great song. Sorry I’ve been away…I had a kidney stone on and off for a few weeks.


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