One night in 2016 when I found myself deep down a YouTube rabbit-hole I stumbled across a 1966 Canadian TV broadcast of "Richard Cory" by Simon and Garfunkel. I had heard their album version of the song several times, and always loved the version by Them (Van Morrison's early group)--but this live version from 1966 was something I had never before come across. I was struck by how much more raw it felt than the album version. Simon and Garfunkel-- with just their harmonies and one acoustic guitar-- are a perpetual reminder that less can be more with many great songs.
Simon wrote the song based off the 1897 poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson and the subject matter, sadly, is a timeless American working class perspective on wealth, envy, and happiness. The fact that a poem written about an economic crash in 1893 could seem current in 1897, 1966, and now again in 2020 seems to imply that there is something in the very core of our ethos that we're perpetually doomed to repeat.
From a performance aspect, I was fascinated by Paul Simon's guitar tuning in this song. I watched the clip several dozen times to figure out what key he was in (I could tell it was an open tuning, but open G and open D didn't sound anywhere close to what he was playing). After an hour or so, I finally nailed it down. It's not like any other tuning I've stumbled across, but it allows you to do that rock & roll lick on the lower strings that he plays, while maintaining a dark almost-harpsichord like vibe on the other strings. Here it is for any fellow guitar enthusiasts looking for a strange tuning to enjoy. It's a variant of open C#.
High to low (thinnest string to lowest string)
The version I released on Reflectere uses this tuning, and was recorded live with no overdubs in tribute to Simon and Garfunkel's 1966 version (mentioned above). Hope you enjoy my take on this classic, but please check out the 1966 version--it's one of my absolute favorites from the duo.
Thanks for listening/downloading! This Sunday, April 26th, I'll be releasing the 7th song on Reflectere, "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie. More on that tune in a few days...