The Story Behind Simon And Garfunkel’s Songs: "Richard Cory" With A Twist

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The Story Behind Simon And Garfunkel’s Songs: "Richard Cory" With A Twist

OK, you’re Paul Simon. You and Art Garfunkel became famous overnight when your song “Sound of Silence” hit #1 on the Billboard without you even knowing it had been re-recorded and re-released. You rush back from the UK to reunite with your partner and head to the studio to record some more songs to turn your new song into an album. Problem: You need more songs. solution? You use some songs you have stored. Then you write a few more, like “Richard Cory.”

Unbeknownst to most, Simon was an English major at Queens College with a degree in English Literature (few less know that he briefly attended Brooklyn Law School). So it was only natural that he would use his knowledge of poetry to help him come up with material for their hastily put together album.

Given that Simon’s audience was in the process of disenchanting with the Vietnam War and distrusting the “establishment,” the rich and the old, it was a natural choice for him to choose Edward Arlington Robinson’s poem “Rationale.” Chad Corey. Written in the depression that followed the Panic of 1893, it portrays a man who seemed to have it all: wealth, education, manners, and the admiration of all around him. Those who envied him did not have enough money for meat and cursed the bread they had (in those depressed years many were forced to live on stale bread). But despite all this success, Corey came home peacefully one day and shot himself. The reader has to see that for all of Corey’s strengths it doesn’t matter, he’s missing something important. Maybe it’s the folly of excess wealth (think Ecclesiastes “all are vanity and a chasing after wind”). Maybe it’s loneliness. Maybe it’s boredom or frustration. We don’t know…but it’s hard for us to ask.

Simon draws on his experience with English literature to bring Richard Corey into the 20th century. It starts out the same way, though Simon embellishes it a bit. Not only is Corey rich, he “owns half the town.” He is very wealthy and can give generously to charity. He knows all the right people. He was born with a gold spoon in his mouth, the pampered only son of a wealthy banker. The media followed his every move like a modern-day paparazzi. For entertainment, he throws incredible parties and indulges in raves.

However, he still committed suicide with a gun.

Where is the singer of this song? He works in a factory in Cory, hungry and poor, angry at fate for his poverty, and loathing his “boss”.But unlike the poem, the singer seems to have a death wish as he still even wished he was corey rear Corey committed suicide.

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