Simon and Garfunkel – Homeward Bound

It all started for me with a Simon and Garfunkel greatest hits package and I was instantly a fan.

Being a Beatle fan I always liked the version that Paul and George Harrison did on SNL in 1976 which was their highest rated episode up til that point. Paul played this and “Here Comes The Sun” with Paul Simon in 1976 on Saturday Night Live.

This was just the second Simon & Garfunkel single, following up “The Sound Of Silence,” which became a surprise hit when their record company added instrumentation and released it a year after it was first recorded. The duo had parted ways, but got back together in a hurry when “Sound of Silence” hit #1 in America.

The song peaked at #5 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, #1 in New Zealand, and #9 in the UK in 1966. It appeared on the album  Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme  but they recorded it during the Sound of Silence album sessions.

Paul Simon: “That was written in Liverpool when I was traveling. What I like about that is that it has a very clear memory of Liverpool station and the streets of Liverpool and the club I played at and me at age 22. It’s like a snapshot, a photograph of a long time ago. I like that about it but I don’t like the song that much. First of all, it’s not an original title. That’s one of the main problems with it. It’s been around forever. No, the early songs I can’t say I really like them. But there’s something naive and sweet-natured and I must say I like that about it. They’re not angry. And that means that I wasn’t angry or unhappy. And that’s my memory of that time: it was just about idyllic. It was just the best time of my life, I think, up until recently, these last five years or so, six years… This has been the best time of my life. But before that, I would say that that was.”

From Songfacts

Paul Simon lived in Brentwood, Essex, England when he wrote this song. When traveling back from Wigan, where he was playing, he got stuck at the train station and wrote this. The song has a double meaning: literally, wanting for a ticket home to Brentwood, but on the other hand, yearning to go to his home in the US. 

Along with “I Am A Rock,” this was recorded at a late-night session in New York City with producer Bob Johnston. Simon played acoustic guitar, and Ralph Casale was on electric. Johnston was working on Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 album around this time, and Casale recalls that drummer Bobby Gregg and organist Al Kooper – both Dylan regulars – played on this Simon & Garfunkel session as well.

Paul Simon performed this song with Billy Joel at Joel’s concert on August 4, 2015 at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York. This was the last concert at the venerable arena, and Simon was a surprise guest. It marked the first time Joel and Simon ever sung together.

Peter Carlin called his 2016 novel about Paul Simon Homeward Bound. “Given the immigrant story beneath Paul’s life and work (what are his many musical re-creations if not the assimilation process writ in music over and over again) ‘Homeward Bound’ worked too well to ignore,” he explained.

Homeward Bound

I’m sitting in the railway station.
Got a ticket to my destination.
On a tour of one-night stands my suitcase and guitar in hand.
And every stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one-man band.
Homeward bound,
I wish I was,
Homeward bound,
Home where my thought’s escaping,
Home where my music’s playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.

Every day’s an endless stream
Of cigarettes and magazines.
And each town looks the same to me, the movies and the factories
And every stranger’s face I see reminds me that I long to be,
Homeward bound,
I wish I was,
Homeward bound,
Home where my thought’s escaping,
Home where my music’s playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.

Tonight I’ll sing my songs again,
I’ll play the game and pretend.
But all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony I need someone to comfort me.
Homeward bound,
I wish I was,
Homeward bound,
Home where my thought’s escaping,
Home where my music’s playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.
Silently for me.